With front and rear sway bars, Mazdaspeed tuned suspension, a torque-sensing conical limited slip differential, and 40-series Dunlop SP 2050 summer tires, you don’t expect poor handling and the Speed3 doesn’t disappoint. Sure the ride borders on harsh at times, but it remains flat and taut in the twisties. When it was a bit drier on the road, I did push the car but was unable to break it loose. Like the 2008 model, this 2010 is just as fun. The new electro-hydraulic steering was tactile and provided excellent feedback. Having very little lash, a slight rotation of the steering wheel resulted in a responsive change in direction. This little Mazda had one of the best on-center feels of the cars I’ve driven and only seemed to improve as the velocity increased.
Personally, I liked the body of the previous generation. The new one looks a bit elongated for a sport compact. The rising beltline common in so many cars today makes the car look sleeker, but it reduces rearward visibility. I much prefer the larger windows of the previous generation MS3. Mazda has visibly set the Speed3 apart from the standard model with a large hood scoop for the intercooler which sets it further apart from the standard Mazda 3 (previous model used under-hood ducts). The large, black, Cheshire-cat grill opening looks a bit much on the front end and detracts from the sporty look of the car.
This Mazda is a very fast and fun car to drive. However, the practical side of me (and maybe being older), I wanted something a bit more refined. With a backseat that has almost zero legroom (with my seat adjusted normally, I could squeeze my soft briefcase between the rear seat and the back of the front seat), and a very taut ride, I think a VW GTI might be a better choice as an all around fun car to drive plus it gets much better gas mileage. Other cars would be the Subie WRX, Honda Civic Si, Chevy Cobalt SS, and Dodge Caliber SRT4. Only the Subaru, Chevy and Dodge are in the same horsepower ballpark as the Speed3 while the Subie and Dodge list for a few thousand dollars more.
If you’re a young, single-guy looking for an inexpensive sports car that you don’t have to dump money into for a better suspension, tires, etc, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is the car for you. With 5-doors, it’s even somewhat practical allowing you to fold the seats down for a cavernous rear. On the flip side, if you’re planning to haul 4-adults around all of the time, look elsewhere due to the lack of rear legroom. One nitpick that Mazda needs to solve: with one door open (say the driver side), and you’re outside using the remote or the buttons on the door handles to open, for example, the passenger door, the door won’t unlock. You need to close the open door, and then go through the process to unlock all the doors. At a cruise-controlled 65-mph with no a/c driving a Kansas-flat stretch of road, the instantaneous mileage showed 32-mpg. In 237-miles of mixed driving, I averaged almost 22 mpg (EPA mileage: 18/25 mpg) which is pretty good for a sports car. For almost $26k as-tested, Mazda has hit another home run fixing some of the shortcomings of the previous model, while updating its looks.
|Official website for Mazda cars, trucks, and SUVs – www.mazdausa.com|
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