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First Drive: 2010 Mazda3

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2010 Mazda3

2010 Mazda3

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We were among the first journalists to drive the 2010 Mazda3 before the recent L.A. auto show--and we're happy to report that Mazda didn’t screw up the recipe for their best-selling vehicle.

On the contrary, the new 3 has been spiced it up a bit with a larger-displacement engine and made it a better-looking and more refined compact. From its manga-like smiling front end to its long list of available luxury options, the new 2010 Mazda3 should be another hot seller.

Mazda is launching the sedan version of the Mazda3 first, but a sleek five-door wagon is on the way in the 2010 model year. We had both the base “i” and the sportier “s” sedan at our disposal for a day of driving up the coast from Santa Monica to Malibu, and then for some twisty routes through the canyons inland.

We started out with the Mazda3 “s” manual and ended the day with the base “i” mated to a manual. Both delivered smooth performance and fantastic handling for a front-driver, but oddly, we preferred the base engine. In stark contrast to the vehicle it replaces, the base engine is peppy enough to live up to the “zoom, zoom” slogan and delivers a respectable 33 mpg on the highway. The Madza3 “s” at 167 horsepower is faster and incredibly smooth, but we don’t think the additional 19 ponies are worth the 4-mpg highway fuel mileage deficit.

After a day in various versions of the new Mazda3, we left impressed with the level of refinement throughout the car. The exterior styling is very expressive while maintaining the family DNA, the interior quality and design are class leading, and driving experience is engaging but not exhausting.

If we had any complaints about the car, it would be that all the “goodies” are only available with the bigger engine. We’d like to see the miserly engine available in a fully loaded car. Also, the driving feel may be a little too smooth for some--but an upcoming five-door Mazdaspeed3 should remedy that.

The 2010 Mazda3 continues the success of the previous model by offering the most engaging driving experience in the compact car segment along with class-exclusive features. Read more over at our full 2010 Mazda3 page, including our quick Bottom Line, and see a huge photo gallery of the new four-door sedan, too.--Joe LaMuraglia

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Comments (8)
  1. The front gaping grille looks ludicrous. Too big a gap, huge. Like some dumb marine mammal feeding itself by swallowing 1,000 toms of water and any loser critters it contains..LOL
    Most mazdas think they are BMW Wannabes, but they are really, really lame. With the exception of that Miata, popular with secretaries and a few really short-legged males...
    But, if you buy one here, you get the ford discount.. and it needs it badly too... to be a decent value..LOL
     
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  2. As for that "smile" when no joke is being told, it only makes the vehicle look really, really dubm,
    as dumb and insufferable that totally lame "zoom zoom" campaign was, with that silly-cute 6 year old...or whatever.
    Would any self-respecting person buy a vehicle that advertises like that? Some dumb bubblebrain, maybe...
    Compare to BMW ads!
    Geez!
     
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  3. The new mazda3 is going to be amazing. I agree that some of te exterior styling is hit/miss with the grinning front end, but the features that can be had in the S-GrandTouring model will blow any other small car (under 30,000) out of the water. The specs have come up on Mazda's webpage: 3position memory driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers, front heated mirrors, power drivers seat, key fob and push button start, dual zone automatic climate control, button recognition (a two stage lighting system that acknowledges the button has been pressed), Ipod dock/usb connectivity, bluetooth, and heated seats. Talk about features for a small car - I'm willing to guess this is going to undercut the 2009 Mazda6 SGT which doesnt even have as many features!
    Try to find a car that has those many luxury items that gets 30mpg and is under $25,000 I bet you'll have a very hard time.
    I look forward to its release date - sometime in early 2009!
     
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  4. So Ed, how many beemers you own? :)
    I had a rental for 2 weeks while my car was in the shop and absolutely enjoyed the 3. Was looking forward to the new model, but that "smile"... just dumb looking.
     
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  5. Wow Ed,
    I don't know what to believe. On the one hand, you are 'bashing' the Mazda3, yet you defend all Japanese cars. Why is that? Is it because Ford owns a part of Mazda, and so you don't consider it to be a 'true' sacred Japanese/import vehicle? Or is it because it might just be a Japananese/Euro 'wannabe'?
    Please stop. Your ignorance and foolishness only grows more as time goes by (you).
    I guess if it's not a Honda or Toyo, or a BMW for that matter, it's not worth mentioning anything good?
    Please make constructive comments, and not these uninformative remarks.
    BL in San Fran (home of the import lovers - like me)
     
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  6. Ah, by the way.
    This new Mazda3 does look a bit better then the current model (sedan).
    FYI
    Cars I own:
    1994 Honda Accord EX (White - my favorite car, year and model)
    2000 Nissan Quest GXE
    2008 Saturn Outlook XR
    And I think this Mazda might replace my Honda (if it ever breaks down) ;-)
    So, unlike others here, I don't discrinate based on car companies....
    BL in San Fran (Home of the import buyers ;-) )
    "No Brand Loyalty; my loyalty is to my money"
     
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  7. Yay, I get to disagree with Ed, the world is back in order. Ed you are a first grade idiot. For once I think the sedan version actually looks better than the hatch. It is cure without being so cute that it will date quickly. Comparing a Mazda to a BMW, yeah that is Mazda's strategy, maybe you should go work for GM Ed. his thing will sell fantastically and Ford can thank Mazda for ensuring the C platform is such a great drive. And since theya re selling so well the advertising can't be all that bad.
    Great looks, great car, all reports is a great drive and Ed hates it, what more of a compliment can you give.
     
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  8. I actually thought it looked pretty nice at first glance - even sort of aggressive. After reading the comments above all I see is a characture from the movie cars. Thanks for killing it for me. It must be a Rorschach ink blot king of thing.
     
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