2010 Mazdaspeed3 Review

2010 Mazdaspeed3 Review
August 2, 2010 2010 Mazdaspeed3 Review By Bertrand Godin
The little boy inside me is still alive and well. When I’m not doing crazy rides at the amusement park, I like to drive a car that’s just as thrilling and smile-inducing. The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 definitely fits that bill.

This Japanese hot hatch will try anything to make people notice. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)

Turning heads
This Japanese hot hatch will try anything to make people notice. My Velocity Red tester rode on gorgeous 18-inch alloy wheels and, just to make sure it doesn’t get mistaken for the regular Mazda3, the front section has been extensively tweaked. Witness the massive hood scoop and the exclusive grille that doubles as a menacing grin.

Available in 5-door configuration only, the Mazdaspeed3 proves quite versatile, too.

Ready for takeoff
Despite being a full-blown performance car, comfort is still part of the equation. Entering or exiting the cockpit is easy, especially with the ultra-low ground clearance, and the sports seats up front provide wonderful support in addition to a perfect driving position. The cushions are actually quite comfortable, summer or winter (heated seats come standard).

Much like the exterior, the interior is dynamically styled and very attractive. Material selection and build quality keep improving from one generation to the next, with the company now offering serious fit and finish inside the Mazdaspeed3. The controls are nicely laid out and user-friendly as well.

Some restrictions apply
I’m obviously not talking about a minimum height, here. Rather, I want to stress that some degree of experience is required when stepping behind the wheel of this sporty 3. People who just got their driver’s license should definitely not be taking the helm. In fact, I’d recommend some genuine driving skills and wisdom if one hopes to maintain control in certain situations.

Much like the exterior, the interior is dynamically styled and very attractive. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)

The Mazdaspeed3 sure is a blast to drive (and was designed accordingly), provided that you know how to remain in charge of the elements. That being said, for all its impressive performance credentials, the car shows relative docility in daily driving conditions. Granted, reaching the speed limit as quickly as possible becomes a regular habit — I recorded a time of 6.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h — probably as much a habit as stopping at the gas station, as my average of 12 L/100 km would attest.

Once up to speed, the machine feels immensely sharp and responsive, instilling superb confidence in the driver with a surgically-precise steering. It simply won’t leave its track, like a train on a railway or, better yet, a wagon on a roller coaster. The sport-tuned suspension with stabilizer bars makes the car unshakeable.

despite all its impressive performance, the car shows relative docility in daily driving conditions. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)

There is one (big) caveat, though: torque steer becomes seriously annoying under hard acceleration, forcing the driver to continuously anticipate the reaction of the front axle. Some will claim that an all-wheel drive system would cure the problem and, while I agree, I have to admit that I kind of got used to it after the first few times.

The main attraction
The 2.3L, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder MZR DISI Turbo engine with direct injection is a true little marvel. Producing 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque, it sends the Mazdaspeed3 on a front-wheel adrenaline rush once you get past the slight turbo lag. Pure fun.

The six-speed manual gearbox with sport shifter is awesome to play with. Gear spacing is appropriate and heel-toe shifting just adds to the excitement. The brakes work like a charm although they could use a tad more endurance. Unless you spend every weekend on a track, they’ll be more than up to the task.

When I handed over the keys of the 2010 Mazdaspeed3, I felt exactly like when I leave the amusement park — one more run, please! It’s a bit of a shame, however, that the price of admission is so steep ($32,995).

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