This sweetheart trips the light fantastic!
Mazda has always
been a utility player in the automotive field. With the exception of
the ridiculous (now discontinued) B-series, mostly-Ford Ranger pickup
truck, all of their vehicles are very competitive. It’s not a question
of individual preference, as many automotive periodicals sign the
praises of Mazda.
Initially, I had mixed feelings about the cartoonish Mazda3. Worried was I as to changes made to the superb
original. I had the opportunity to test the 4-door Mazda3 Sport with
the beefier 2.5 liter 4-banger. At a hair under 3,000 lbs, the 2010
Mazda3 Sport was a fun ride.
A 2.0 liter 148 horsepower 135 lbs
feet of torque engine comes standard in the lower level model Mazda3
4-door models. It is spunky and very fuel efficient (rated at about 25
mpg city and 33 mpg highway). The 167 horsepower, 168 lbs feet of
torque 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine is the one you want. At just over
4,000 rpm, you hit the sweet-spot in the 2.5 4-banger and launch
Mazda’s 3 dances!
The overall feeling is silky
smooth and the 6-speed manual is one of the most refined gearboxes in
its bracket. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the whole
package is the most sophisticated in its class. I managed to keep pace
with a Honda Civic Si (THE best in the business) as we hustled through
the back hills of Evergreen, Colorado. The cornering is superb. There
is a bit of body lean to be sure, still this sucker holds on to a
corner like a tongue to a frozen pipe.
Very few factory-built, economy minded cars can match the Mazda3.
beefy proportions had no problem getting comfortable inside the wee
little Mazda3. Backseat room is fine, great even if children are
involved. The 5-door hatch (obviously) has more useable space. All the
same, the little sedan is very roomy for its size, one of the best in
class for real space. The trunk is wide, deep and very spacious.
gauges, buttons and (especially) the slick steering-wheel controls are
all top notch for this price bracket. Instrumentation lighting and
ergonomics are excellent. The overall feel is a step under Volkswagen
and a step above Nissan. Honestly, this is a well put together machine.
I could not help but drive this little guy like a Mario Andretti
wanna-be. Still, I managed a combined mpg of 22, which is just 1.5 mpg
less than a Hyundai Accent I recently tortured.
Is it ALL love?
No, there are a few minor issues. I am not convinced the over
exaggerated smiley face front end is that great. I mean, it’s okay for
those who like the ‘cute’ thing, but not for serious driver types –
which this car is meant for. The total MSRP for this loaded 2010 Mazda3
4-door Spot is $22,000 on the nose. It is a good price, perhaps a tad
too high. Still, if you hold off on a few goodies, ANY Mazda3 is worth
Don’t skimp on the stereo. I found the 6-speaker Bose to kick some serious donkeys.
Mazda3 with the 2.5 liter 4-cylinder is one of the most rewarding
vehicles to drive in its bracket – period. Look, don’t take my word for
it, check out any car magazine’s top cars and I guarantee you’ll see
one of the Mazda3’s.
Let me put it in another way. For the price, you will be very hard pressed to find a vehicle in the Mazda3’s class.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: N.D