One aspect of the MazdaSpeed3's interior that we're still not sure about is the dual-screen instrument panel display. On Mazda's newer models, there are two small screens: On the left a high-contrast color screen that shows trip computer functions along with nav-system displays and audio information; on the right, a soft orange-red display for climate-control functions, also displaying audio information above. But the big dot-matrix-like display is virtually useless for RDS information, satellite radio, or anything else where the tag is longer than six or seven characters. What we're left wondering is, wouldn't Mazda be better served by a single, wider display, like the one that BMW uses?
Most other controls and displays in the MazdaSpeed3 were pleasing and straightforward, with excellent gauges and one of the best sets of steering-wheel controls we've found in any vehicle. Though we also noted that the huge 'play' dial in the middle of the dash, labeled "Tune/File," actually accessed very few functions except when navigating through music directories.
Frugal? Yes, surprisingly so
Fuel economy was another pleasant surprise in the MazdaSpeed3; over about 80 miles of local errands in very cold weather, and a 40-mile highway blast once it had warmed up, we averaged nearly 24 mpg. That's within a couple of miles per gallon of what we would have seen in a 2.5-liter 2010 Mazda3.
Of course, take full advantage of its power and its cornering ability, and we bet it won't be quite as miserly as a standard Mazda3—especially when it comes to tire life. And speaking of tires, if you plan to drive the Mazda3 in the white stuff, you'd probably be best getting some real winter tires, even though we luckily managed just fine with the SP Sports.
All said, there's no reason to be afraid of the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 because it lacks all-wheel drive, or you think it might ride a little too hard for daily driving. As far as we're concerned, it's earned its daily-driver stripes.