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2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 Review

This review was written when the 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 was new.

True to Mazda's motto, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 has enough "zoom zoom" to satisfy the snobbiest of enthusiasts. Plus, its comfortable ride, spacious interior cabin and large cargo hold make it practical for everyday use. The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 has been named a 2010 Car & Driver "10Best Car."

Model Overview

The redesigned 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is a performance-tuned variant of the popular 2010 MAZDA3 -- which ranks high in the class of affordable small cars for its sprightly performance and upscale cabin.

However, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 ups the 3’s game in a major way. Not only does it feature 115 more horsepower than the base model, but it’s tuned for real mind-numbing sports performance. The result is the same old fun, comfortable and practical hatchback, but with a lot more sports capability. The Boston Globe writes: "There's no doubt that Porsche builds the world's best performance cars that can also serve as daily commuters, like the 911 twin turbo with all-wheel drive. But on the lower end, Mazda leads the pack -- at the racetrack and in suburbia."

Though the 2010 MAZDA3 is available in both a sedan and hatchback body styles, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is only offered as a five-door hatchback.

  • "Although the redesigned Mazda3 joined the Cheshire cat smile now shared with the Mazda6, CX-7, MX-5 Miata, and RX-8, the Mazdaspeed3 gets a bit more of a 'prankish' style. Appearing at first like a mild, happy-go-lucky ride, the Mazdaspeed3 has a Mr. Hyde side to its grinning Dr. Jekyll look - and you'd better be buckled up when that alter ego takes control." -- Left Lane News
  • "Look, the world needs some good news. Wars, the economy, swine flu. My God, Andrew Lloyd Webber is making a sequel to "Phantom of the Opera."
    So now comes the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 -- which is the best-in-class compact-hatch Mazda3 stuffed with horsepower foie gras -- and that, oppressed citizens, is an occasion for good cheer." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "Since being introduced in 2007, the Mazdaspeed 3 has thumped all who have dared to take it on. Its combination of power, handling, practicality and value has proved to be unbeatable in the various Edmunds comparison tests it's participated in over the years." -- Edmunds
  • "The Mazdaspeed3 is one of those rare have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too packages capable of entertaining its driver, hauling family or friends, and minding a budget." -- Automobile Magazine.
  • "Some cars are so much fun to drive that it is hard to send them back at the end of a weeklong test drive. The MazdaSpeed3 is just such a car, and with a base price of $23,195, it is one of the performance bargains of the year.… The compact Mazda3 has long been a favorite of enthusiasts because it has aggressive handling and sharp looks, and the high-performance version only heightens its appeal." -- Kansas City Star

The Bottom Line

The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 makes a great choice for anyone in the market for an affordable sports car that’s easy to live with.

Still, serious car shoppers should test drive the similarly-priced 2010 Subaru WRX before making a final decision. Like the 2010 Mazdaspeed3, it features a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 265 horsepower -- two more than its Mazda counterpart. The 2010 Mazdaspeed3, however, provides a lot more torque at a lower range of rpm. While both vehicles are dynamic performers, the Subaru is equipped with a standard all-wheel drive system, which provides more traction and capability in adverse weather conditions.

Drivers seeking an affordable car with a sporty feel, but not necessarily sports car performance, should consider a 2010 Honda Civi Si or 2010 Mitsubishi Eclipse instead.

Performance Dynamics

Test drivers are impressed with the 2010 Mazdaspeed3's quick acceleration and balanced handling. It shines as both a back-road burner and grocery getter with a bad boy edge.

The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is equipped with a 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition Turbocharged I4 engine. It produces 263-horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. A close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter is standard. According to Mazda, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 has a top speed of 155 mph. Edmunds reports that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 nets an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 18/25 mpg.

The front-wheel drive 2010 Mazdaspeed3’s performance abilities are aided by an electro-hydraulic power assist steering system, four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. A sport-tuned exhaust system is also standard.

For 2010, the Mazdaspeed3’s power remains unchanged. However, its performance is enhanced with minor -- but effective -- changes to its gear ratio, suspension tuning, torque-management system and steering set up. The result is less torque steer, more road feel and better ride quality.

  • "Powered by a 2.3-liter DISI (direct injection) turbo powerplant putting out 263-horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque, the Mazdaspeed3 makes the list of cars that provide as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Step on the loud pedal and a raspy (albeit four-cylinder, higher-pitched) note starts to sing from the engine room." -- Left Lane News
  • "This five-door hatchback is a real kick. The 263-horsepower, turbocharged engine has a power band that is so elastic and linear that the four-cylinder will blast through the gears with grin-inducing speed or accelerate steadily from less than 2,000 rpm in fifth or sixth gear. That flexibility makes Mazda's hot compact a ton of fun for daily driving or a vigorous romp through the countryside." -- Kansas City Star
  • "Powered by a fervid, phat-with-torque turbocharged four-cylinder engine (263 hp) and strung with a cat's cradle of stiff springs and struts, sticky 18-inch tires and big brakes, the Mazdaspeed3 can throw you around like an LAX baggage handler.… Hook a 12-volt car battery to a Meyer lemon. Take a bite. That's what the Mazdaspeed3 feels like. Sweet, tart, electrifying." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "The MazdaSpeed is very quick, but acceleration is blunted by turbo lag. The clutch is stiff on this model, and the shifter is tricky to modulate in heavy traffic." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's still some steering-wheel tug at wide-open throttle-the official line is that a little torque steer adds to the fun-but it's not the wrestling match of 2007-09 models." -- Car and Driver
  • "With increased roll control, the MS3 handles more precisely, yet with less of its former self's kidney-thumping feel over larger bumps. Skidpad is a solid 0.90g, up from 0.86. Under power, steering still gives unsolicited suggestions to your cornering line, but this time the torque steer is less extroverted." -- Road and Track
  • +"The previous MS3 was already our favorite high-performance hatchback, but Mazda's engineers felt that its suspension was in need of an overhaul, as it had a tendency to get unsettled over bumps and around pockmarked corners. The result of their efforts is impressive: Not only does the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 ride noticeably better than its predecessor, it also slithers through our slalom cones a whopping 4.6 mph faster." -- Edmunds
  • "This is a performance car. The turbocharged engine spools up quickly, but not frighteningly so. The improved transmission is well-matched to the engine's power. Cornering is precise, the electro-hydraulic power steering feel is just right, and the four-wheel disc brakes are up to the task." -- Orlando Sentinel
Review Last Updated: 5/19/10

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