First Impressions: 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 GT w/Techie Package Induces Big Smiles All Around

Expert Reviews Mazda

2010 Mazda MAZDA3

By Mary Ellen Ash


  • Value
  • Keyless remote entry and ignition
  • Lots of cupholders.
  • Sliding front seat arm rest for shrimp-lings like me
  • Bose Stereo System
  • Fold-down rear seats for excellent cargo space


  • Bluetooth system finicky
  • Limited rear passenger leg-room

First Impressions
Over the past 2 years, I’ve had the pleasure of casually driving the 2007 MAZDA3 GT model, and I was very curious to see how the new design features and overall package offered in the 2010 MAZDA3 compared to the older model.

Based on pure car value, this is one of the best cars on the market. Comparing all the features included in this car, for the price, it’s arguably the best valued car in its class. That’s some pretty high praise. When I was initially introduced to this vehicle 3 years ago, it was dubbed the “poor man’s BMW.” Take this car out for a drive and you’ll immediately see what I mean.

The popular MAZDA3 was, for the first time in 7 years, completely redesigned. The first thing you’ll either love or hate about the redesigned 2010 model is the smiley-face front grille. While it may mimic your own smile when driving this car, its function is to provide more air into the engine, while the dual tailpipes and specially tuned mufflers provide a pleasant exhaust note without a hint of mid-range boom or high-rpm thrash. All this means that along with the bigger 2.5L engine (up from 2.3L), the new car gets 167 hp at 6000 rpm and 168 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm; significant increases from previous years with no loss of fuel economy.

2010 Mazda MAZDA3

Taking into account my spirited enthusiasm every time I got behind the wheel of the new MAZDA3, I still averaged 26 mpg overall. Pretty darn good considering how my feet tripled in mass every time I started the car. EPA estimates are 22 city and 29 highway with the automatic and 21/29 with the 6-speed manual gearbox.

California and ten other states get the clean-burning Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) version. Fewer greenhouse gases are emitted, but power output is a little lower with the PZEV engines. The PZEV version of this engine produces 165 hp @ 6000 rpm and 167 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.

2010 MAZDA3 5-door 2010 MAZDA3

While a manual transmission would maximize the car’s engine better, our test car with a 5-speed automatic was responsive, had quick accelerations out of stop lights, and easily out-paced neighboring vehicles. As previous MAZDA3 owners can attest, the true enjoyment of driving one is found in its handling. With a sporty suspension system and great balance, the new MAZDA3 comes alive on curvy mountain roads. It confidently hugs the road while making absolute mince-meat out of twists and turns — never giving you any indication that this is also your daily commuter car.

The upgraded MAZDA3 interior is another huge positive. Compared to previous models, the seats and steering wheel are wrapped in much better quality leather. There were just enough controls on the steering wheel without being too cluttered. And there were plenty of cupholders and storage compartments to keep the driver happy. The front seats are also equipped with heated seats with 5 levels of heating so your buns don’t have to come out of the oven too toasty. A minor drawback I noticed was the amount of rear passenger leg room. When the front seats are at their furthest back, there were only a few inches of leg room remaining. Even my 5’2 frame, was barely able to fit under these conditions; something to consider if you have freakishly average-sized children.

2010 MAZDA3 interior

Dual-zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter, a feature not normally found in cars of this class, maintains the individually selected interior temperatures at a desired level for both driver and front passenger. Something I became to appreciate whenever I had to drive my older car. With my allergies out of control this summer, the pollen filter became a true friend. Comfortable temperature. Allergy relief. Yeah, I can get used to this very easily.

(Continued on page 2)

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