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2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 Sport Review & Test Drive

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‘ZOOM ZOOM POCKET ROCKET’

From a distance the all-new may look like its Mazda3 siblings with its five-point grille and sleek lines, but upon closer inspection and just one minute behind the wheel will prove otherwise.

The all-new MazdaSpeed3 blends the five-door functionality of the all-new Mazda3 5-door with bolder, more aggressive styling and exhilarating performance to meet the needs of driving enthusiasts with active lifestyles.  Carrying forward the award-winning MZR 2.3 liter DISI Turbo engine, the new MazdaSpeed3 builds on the legendary performance of the original while adding a fresh new look and even better handling.

The design of the all-new MazdaSpeed3 evolves the model’s visual identity to create a sportier, more aggressive look.  The result is a more emotional design that takes the sporty, agile nature of the new MazdaSpeed3 to higher levels.

The MazdaSpeed3 is easily distinguished from its siblings.  Starting at the front you’ll notice a lower air dam and round foglamps that frame an organic, metallic-black grille.  The hood now features a wide intercooler scoop to improve charge air-cooling, and the front fenders are flared to contain the car’s wider tires.

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From the side, the new 18X7.5in. aluminum wheel design is unique, but modeled closely on the deeply sculpted, expressive, and very lightweight 19in. forged wheels on the RX-8 R3.  Sculpted side skirts and a lower stance also give away the MazdaSpeed3’s sinister motives.  From the rear, larger dual exhaust tips, a rear valance painted the same metallic black as the grille, and a larger, roof-mounted wing give it away.

Nagare-inspired design defines the exterior and continues into the cabin, which features color coordination and materials chosen to excite you and your passengers every time they take a seat.  Black is the keynote color employed throughout the interior, while the seats and trim fabric have an organic red graphic design.  This MazdaSpeed3-exclusive design is distributed throughout, with red stitching enhancing the sporty interior character on the steering wheel, door trim, seats, shift lever boot and center armrest.

The dashboard is designed to give a roomy feel while displaying critical information up high and deep into the dashboard, closer to your field of vision and focal point.  The instrument cluster also includes a new LED turbo boost gauge positioned between the speedometer and tachometer.  The manually operated, deeply bolstered front bucket sport seats are designed to provide support without compromising everyday riding comfort.

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The new MazdaSpeed3 continues to use Mazda’s award-winning MZR 2.3 liter DISI (direct injection spark ignition) turbocharged and intercooled powerplant.  It delivers 263hp at 5,500rpm and 280lb.ft. of torque at 3,000rpm, it made the original MazdaSpeed3 the most powerful front-drive performance car under $25,000.00, and remains one of the strongest engines in its class today.

With no need to increase power, the development team focused on harnessing that power more effectively.  Engine output itself is more consistent, thanks to the hood-mounted intercooler scoop that not only improves intercooler airflow over the grille-mounted intercooler duct of last-year’s car, but also frees up grille space for a fresh-air duct to feed the engine’s intake.  Breathing cooler air improves efficiency, boosting both real-world power and fuel economy.

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The gear ratios in the compact, three-shaft 6-speed gearbox have also been revised with 2nd through 5th gear all getting slightly taller to make better use of the engine’s abundant torque.  The new gear spacing and refined engine calibration are focused on providing more linear, seamless power delivery.  The advanced torque-sensing conical limited slip differential torque management system minimizes torque steer by adjusting torque output based on gear position and steering angle, has also been recalibrated.  The new gear ratios allow more of the engine’s torque to be utilized in the lower gears while still keeping torque steer at a manageable level.

The new MazdaSpeed3’s body shell benefits from a focused effort at strengthening the most important parts of the structure.  The use of high-strength and ultra-high strength steel in the safety structures like bumpers and side impact beams has nearly doubled, making these areas both stronger and lighter.  The suspension mounting points all gain rigidity from the use of thicker sheet metal in high-stress areas and extensive use of weld bonding, a hybrid joining technique combining conventional spot welds with structural adhesives.  Torsional stiffness around the rear suspension mounts is improved roughly 2%, while deflection around the rear liftgate is reduced by nearly 40%.

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In general, a stiffer structure allows firmer suspension tuning without compromising ride comfort.  In the case of the new MazdaSpeed3, that firmer suspension was accomplished with stiffer springs, higher damper rates, and revised mounting points for the front stabilizer bar that reduces bushing deflection and increases the bar’s effectiveness.  Combined with wider, higher-grip 225/40R18in. Dunlop SP Sport 2050 performance tires, the MazdaSpeed3’s new suspension tuning marries unflappable control with a comfortable everyday ride.  While stiffer than the Mazda3 Sport, the ride is never harsh.

This new pocket rocket from Mazda zooms out to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.4sec. with only a minimum of torque steering so straight-line acceleration is improved.

Steering feel and response have been improved through more rigid 3-point mounting of the steering rack, compared to the previous 2-point system.  The hydraulic power steering pump has also been removed from the engine and is now driven by an electric motor.  This electro-hydraulic power assisted steering (EHPAS) reduces parasitic drag on the engine, lowers power steering fluid temperature, and gives much more flexibility for the development team to dial in steering feel.  Rigid high-speed steering feel can now be accomplished without suffering heavy steering at low speeds.  I found the feel at speed and at slow speed to be well balanced with great on center feel and a great feel for the road surface.  The reaction time to my inputs was spot-on, just like a racecar.

More Zoom Zoom acceleration needs stronger brakes and the new MazdaSpeed3 comes with exceptional braking power.  Brake feel in hard braking has been improved through the upgrade of the brake assist from mechanical to a new electronically-controlled system.  Brake assist shortens stopping distance in panic-stop situations by applying full brake pressure during the moment of hesitation that most drivers exhibit in the instant after first pressing the brakes.  Electronic Brake Force Distribution also helps to keep brake bias of the front to rear braking balanced as needed.  Up front are 12.6in vented discs clamped with dual aluminum calipers while the rear features 11in. solid discs clamped with single, sliding aluminum calipers.  When entering a corner at high speed the brakes felt very linear as I applied the binders to slow me down then powering out of the curve.

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The 2010 MazdaSpeed3 is loaded with all the goodies a driving enthusiast wants, but without anything that would add undue weight.  Standard features and equipment include variable intermittent wipers, roof-mounted aerodynamic antenna, illuminated vanity mirrors, electroluminescent gauges, aluminum pedals, MazdaSpeed3-branded black/red cloth/leather seats, door trim interior trim, floor mats, MazdaSpeed3 aluminum scuff plates, power windows/door locks, rear intermittent wipers/washer, 60/40 rear folding seat with pull-down armrest/dual cupholders, tilt-telescoping/leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, multi-information display, cruise-control, dual front cupholders and door pockets, center console with sliding padded armrest with storage, welcome lighting, black/red decoration panel, and dual-zone climate control.  An available MazdaSpeed3 Tech Package offers advanced keyless entry, push-button start/stop, a compact full-color navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, a perimeter alarm, six CD changer, and Bose Centerpoint surround sound-five-channel surround sound system engineered cooperatively with Bose and 10-speakers.

To keep you and your passengers safe in the event of a collision is a full complement of safety features including 5-passenger 3-point safety belts, dual front airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, active front headrest, LATCH child seat anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer and side-impact airbags and curtains.

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After test driving the all-new 2010 MazdaSpeed3 sport 5-door sedan you’ll agree that it has the bold looks, power, performance and interior features that could only cost more money as the new model is still the best performing sedan with a sticker price of just $23,195.00 and a loaded price of just $25,840 including destination charges.  Get ready for more Zoom Zoom fun at the wheel.

COPYRIGHT:2009:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $23,195 As-Tested $25,840
Type:
Compact Sedan
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Compact Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 177.6 in.
Width: 69.7 in.
Height: 57.5 in.
Wheel Base: 103.9 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3245 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 38.9 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.7 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.9 in.
Rear Head Room: 38 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 54 in.
Rear Hip Room: 52.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 42 in.
Rear Leg Room: 36.2 in.
Luggage Capacity: 17 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 43 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

0-60mph: 6.4 seconds
Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2.3 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 263 hp
Max Horsepower: 5500 rpm
Torque: 280 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 3000 rpm
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 18 mpg / 25 mpg / 21 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 286.2 mi. / 397.5 mi. / 333.9 mi.

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