By on August 28, 2009

The Mazda3’s performance has always kept it a step ahead of the other economy cars on the market. However, as Mazda’s worked to differentiate their econobox from cookie-cutter Cobalts, Corollas and Civics visually, they’ve tweaked it from different to borderline bizarre. It is said beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bones. Has Mazda gone too far, or is the 2010 Mazda3s Sport still good enough underneath to make you overlook its sheet metal shortcomings?

Mazda says the front-end styling of the Mazda3 is borrowed from the RX-8. If that’s so, then they need to return it posthaste. Its grinning countenance brings to mind the pre-Heath Ledger Joker. And when you discover more than half the grill is blocked off and only a small portion of it functions to funnel air anywhere, you have to wonder what Animé-influenced acid trip the designers were on.

Fortunately the inside is as good as the outside is bizarre. A dual pod instrument cluster sits right in front of the driver, displaying the electroluminescent speedometer and tach. You also get a bar-graph gas gauge but all indicators of the engine’s wellbeing are relegated to warning lights. The leather-wrapped steering wheel sports buttons for the cruise control, audio system, Bluetooth and nav system, and all of the other controls on the dash are well marked and easy to figure out.

The seats deserve special mention. They’re firm, well bolstered and one of the few seats I’ve been able to get comfortable in without an inordinate amount of fiddling and squirming. While power adjustment is standard in the top-line Touring model, the lesser models’ manually adjustable seats are so good you don’t miss the electronics.

The only real ergonomic blunder is the optional nav system. The screen is above and to the right of the instrument cluster, almost at the base of the windshield. The tiny screen is hard to read and the steering-wheel-mounted controls are inaccessible to the passenger. That means the driver has to divert his attention from the road to locate local points of interest, restaurants, etc.—tasks best relegated to the passenger while the vehicle is in motion.

And you don’t want to divert your attention from the road, especially when that road is the infamous Tail of the Dragon. Mazda says the 3s has “zoom-zoom,” so to see if they’re right my son and I drove up to Tennessee to abuse put the 3s through its paces.

Driving there showed it’s a capable freeway cruiser. It had no problems keeping up with (or leading) traffic. The 2.5L, 167HP engine has plenty oomph for passing and the 168 lb·ft of torque makes it quick off the line. The five-speed automatic shifts almost imperceptibly. Overall it’s fairly quiet on smooth pavement, and with a Cd of 0.29 there’s a minimum of wind noise (at least with the sunroof closed). However, if the surface is somewhat rough, quite a bit of tire and road noise filters through.

But where the Mazda3s shines is when the freeway ends and the twisties start. It had no problem exceeding the (ridiculously low) posted speed limit on the Cherohala Skyway (thanks, Trooper Allen, for cutting me a little slack!). I tried manually shifting the transmission but it seemed happiest when left to its own devices. Even at altitudes in excess of 5000 feet, the engine didn’t seem to be straining.

The real test came once we hit the Tail of the Dragon. Mazda says they recalibrated the suspension for 2010. Whatever they did, it worked. This thing boogies like a Bollywood babe. There was a bit of understeer as you might expect, but the handling was totally predictable. The steering is light but never feels over-assisted and you get excellent feedback.

The P205/50R17 Yokohamas voiced their protest at times but the car never faltered as I hound-dogged a motorcycle the entire 11 miles. After alternating between the two pedals for all 318 curves, the 11.8-inch front and 11-inch rear disk brakes showed no sign of fading. This car has the type of handling performance you paid big bucks for in sports cars two decades ago. And it runs rings around other similarly-priced econoboxes.

We returned home tired but I could have sworn I heard the car saying “more, please” as we got out. For all my heavy-footed driving it still returned a respectable 25 mpg (EPA rating is 22/29) My only misgiving was that it had the automatic instead of the six-speed manual. I guess it’s a good thing it didn’t have the third pedal, though.  There’s only so much fun someone my age can handle in one day and the Mazda3 delivered in spades. Like an ugly puppy that grows into a faithful lifelong companion, the Mazda3’s goodness transcends its questionable looks.

[Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance and a tank of fuel for this review.]

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104 Comments on “Review: 2010 Mazda3s Sport...”


  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    How can you not think WTF was going thru their heads when they slapped that clown face on?

    I prefer the 1998 Chevron Tina Turbo. Still $5 on eBay.

  • avatar
    paulie

    Very nice.
    And having driven both the i and s, I think spot on.
    However, to me the looks are worse in pictures than live.
    On the street, the new look is more lively than ugly.
    And its strange that my teenage kids love it, the wife gags.
    And one more thing, the whole design works better on the hatch than the sedan.
    But over all, still THE top econo car.
    To me the Civic looks boring.

  • avatar

    I’ve already seen quite a few of these one the road, and I’m even starting to find the front end attractive. It certainly makes a statement…it says happy. I can appreciate what Mazda was trying to do.

    My co-workers wife has an ’04 3s and it had to have the automatic transmission replaced at 40,000 miles. Just thought I’d relay that.

  • avatar
    matt

    Does anyone else find the mileage a bit low for an economy car? I get 25 mpg in my 350Z, easily.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Nice car, but I don’t like the front end. Said the same thing about Audi’s bass out of water look. But it’s growing on me. Think the A5 coupe is gorgeous.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    As far as I’m concerned the 2.5 was really a mistake.

    A car this size just doesn’t need that much metal under the hood. A slightly tuned up 2.0 would have done the job just fine, without the weight and MPG penalties.

    Daydream as this is, it would have been more interesting to just wedge in a small <2.5 liter V6 from Mazda’s olden days.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    I love the Cherohala Skyway . . . probably the best piece of pork our elected officials ever spent. Shame I’m 600 miles away from it.

  • avatar

    matt: Yeah, 25 MPG is not great for an economy car. I can get better milage in my TSX, but in all fairness if you wanted economy you’d get the 3i with the 2.0L.

  • avatar
    texlovera

    I test drove a 3 about 5 years ago and loved it. Wound up getting the 6 (only the 4-cyl) due to space considerations.

    As with the 3, I like the looks of the older 6 compared to the new (even if the old front end looks cribbed from an Acura). I also particularly like the old tailight clusters; seems like every small car has the same “wedge”-shaped ones now.

    May have to test drive the new 3 now that one kid will be off to college soon…

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Aftermarket items could fix the front end (probably) and navigation (certainly), but the mileage is worrisome.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    regardless of how good it is, i’d get nightmares from seeing that face lookin at me in the driveway, especially at night. And I thought nothing could possibly out-hideous the Acuras.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @ carguy: a new ATX was used from 2006 and on for the 2.3l models. It’s a 5-speed from JATCO. The reliability so far has been great for Mazda3 owners, especially compared to the 4-speed ATX. I have 60k miles on mine, no issues with shifting or any metal shavings (I replaced the fluid at 20k and just this past weekend).

    Mazda was smart to not mess too much with the 3′s chassis when updating the car, it’s already a solid car with great handling and a pretty comfortable ride (there will always be a tradeoff at this price range). The biggest downfalls I’ve had with my 06 GT wagon has been paint chips from this new environmentally-friendly paint and excessive road noise on certain asphalt types.
    Design wise, the front is a bit excessive but does look good in darker colors. Also, picture angles always tend to be at a lower POV than if you were looking at the car while standing in front. You see more of the design flow in person. There is a “bar” that goes along the top of the grill, if that was painted I think it might subdue the front a little bit.

    Handling, road noise, and winter driving become much better when I replaced the OEM Goodyear Eagle RSA tires with Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S tires. Pads still have another 20k on them! And no motor mount issues so far, but this has been a common problem due to the design of having a rubber bladder taking so much vibration. It’s a cheap fix (~$150 at the dealer) and relatively easy for a DIY. I’ve been very pleased with the car, and it’s always enjoyable to drive…even loaded down with 3 adults, a toddler, and gear for a weekend to Glacier or Teton NP.

    The mileage is similiar to what I get with…which is just fine with me. I didn’t buy the smaller engine, a Civic, Focus, Corolla, or Hybrid. I do get constantly better than the EPA rating. I average 30-32 MPG on highway trips (80 MPH, varying elevations), and about 24 MPG around town, Boise traffic tends to flow decently and some lights are timed well.

  • avatar

    As FWD cars go, the 3 handles superbly. But I just can’t get past that hideous face.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @Justin: I’d like to see a Club-Spec style sedan. Slip the 2.0l from the MX-5 into a base sedan, add brakes and suspension bits from the Mazdaspeed3 (if possible). That would be Zoom-Zoom.

  • avatar
    Jason

    If this is the best car in its segment, that face it has will send me to purchase the second-best. I don’t consider a car’s looks to be the most important thing, but I have limits.

    Mazda should do an internal investigation into the exterior design team regarding sabotage.

  • avatar
    sc5i

    How is the backseat, say compared to a Ford Fusion or the old Focus Hatch for ‘adult’ leg room?

  • avatar

    I drove one of these a few months ago.

    The handling was as described. But the styling–I couldn’t get over it.

    I didn’t care much for the powertrain–the 2.5 felt rougher at high RPM than I remember the 2.3 feeling, and the automatic sapped all potential joy. Like the 2.3, the 2.5 doesn’t have the sort of midrange punch needed to enjoy an automatic powertrain. I’ve been meaning to drive another with the manual, and expect it to be considerably more fun.

    Didn’t test MPG–it was just a test drive. But note that he was hammering this car. That’s going to have an impact. TrueDelta has a real-world gas mileage survey. The new 2.5 appears to get low 20s is true city driving, mid 20s in suburban driving, and about 30 in mostly highway driving.

    TrueDelta will have an initial reliability stat in November. Additional participants always helpful.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    jmhm2003

    Happy faces are for kids assignments. There’s a 5-door white one of these on my street and the styling is completely overwrought. Never mind the face, the rest of it is a design school dropouts dream. It reeks of desperation on Mazda’s part.

  • avatar
    don1967

    The previous Mazda 3 was the best poor man’s BMW to come along since the first-gen Sentra SE-R. Aside from disappointing fuel economy and some paint problems, it was a near-perfect product.

    There was no need to slap a silly clown face on the new model, but it is what it is. At least Mazda didn’t screw up the dynamics like Nissan did. And I like the new interior, especially the dashboard which has an organic asymmetry to it.

    Regarding engine harshness, in the world of motorcycles a single-cylinder 550cc engine is called a “thumper” for good reason. Not surprisingly, in the automotive sphere many fours which exceed 2.2 litres and sixes which exceed 3.3 are known to be NVH-challenged relative to their smaller brethren.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @ sc5i: the interior is slightly roomier than a Focus 5-door but smaller than a Fusion. Fusion is the next size up.

    Also, the Fusion does get better mileage out of this 2.5l I-4. It has a 6-speed ATX and is geared higher throughout the range than the Mazda with the 5-speed ATX.

  • avatar
    ca36gtp

    That navigation screen is hilariously terrible. How are you supposed to see that without binoculars?

    Did Mazda just stuff a Tom Tom into some black plastic trim and call it a day?

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    Daydream as this is, it would have been more interesting to just wedge in a small <2.5 liter V6 from Mazda’s olden days.

    I agree. Remember the 1.8L 6 pot in the old MX-3? What a ridiculous, wonderful little engine that was. It made no sense, and yet it was such a great idea at the same time.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If this is the best car in its segment, that face it has will send me to purchase the second-best. I don’t consider a car’s looks to be the most important thing, but I have limits.

    +1.

    Can’t believe I’m writing this, but I don’t care how good this car is dynamically. I would never get over the exterior. Absolute deal-breaker.

    It makes the Acura TL seem normal and the Subaru Impreza look like an Aston Martin.

    If that makes me a poseur or a bad enthusiast then so be it.

  • avatar
    orc4hire

    I don’t like the grill either, but damn people, it’s not THAT ugly. We’re not talk in Aztek ugly. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that the comfortable seats were _way_ more important than the grill. I spent most of my driving time on the inside of the car….

    And for the record, not one single person that I’ve showed the car to has noticed the ‘smiley face’ grill until it was pointed out to them. It just doesn’t stand out that much in person compared to the press pictures.

  • avatar
    twotone

    +1 on mileage. My 1998 BMW 328i sedan manual transmission gets 21 city and 33 highway.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    John R

    I saw a few of these on the road. It’s really growing on me. As usual, the hatch looks best.

  • avatar
    tauronmaikar

    I just want to grab red paint and put “lipstick” all around the front air vent. They I will grab a large red ball and stick it on the hood as the nose.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Nice review, Frank…well done.

    Back in ’05, when I bought my last car, this was a finalist, along with the Focus ST (with the 160-hp Mazda 2.3) and Corolla XRS. The 3 was definitely the best car, but Ford gave me a deal no sane human could ignore (almost 6 grand off).

    Haven’t regretted buying the Focus – it’s actually been a wonderful car – but if money’s no object, the 3 is definitely the car I’d recommend…ugly nose and silly nav screen be damned.

    Here’s my question, though…since the 3′s platform is shared with the Euro Focus, why the hell did they stick with a warmed-over version of the old-gen Focus platform for ’08?

    I’ve heard price is the culprit, but I think that’s bunk – they sell the new-gen Focus in Mexico, of all places, it can’t be that expensive to produce. Ford really dropped the ball on that one.

  • avatar
    Riz

    One thing to keep in mind is that the Civic does gear their autobox to enjoy revving the engine, while the Mazda 3 will often upshift on you to try to lower fuel consumption (during normal driving). So my 09 near base Civic does feel more zoomy than the Mazda’s I test drove.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @ FreedMike: I think the price of federalizing the C1 platform for Ford’s use in the States was the “price” culprit. Plus, the Mazda can be priced slightly higher than the Focus…even though the base sedans are pretty close in MSRP.

    The C170 Focus is still a fun car to drive, although Ford has softened it a bit since the original hatchback.

    So, to the people calling this car ugly (and I’ll admit, it took me some time)… is it 1986 Taurus ugly (as in, we haven’t warmed up to it yet) or Subaru Tribeca ugly (weird ugliness)?

  • avatar
    adonasetb

    25 MPG in hard ass mountain driving ain’t bad at all

  • avatar
    AlexD

    I’ve never seen a review photo of the new 3 with an affixed North American license plate.

    There’s good reason for this. It looks like a buck-toothed yokel off a 50s cartoon reel.

    Can’t agree with some of the posters – the front end actually pisses me off more in real life than in pictures. Almost up there with the Buick Rendezvous.

  • avatar
    Jason

    I think if people are defending it by picking out very specific vehicles which are even MORE ugly…it’s sort of proving that it is, yes, very very ugly.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I like the difference in behavior between the designer out of Irvine versus the designer out of Hiroshima…

    Vid 1

    Vid 2 (Yes, the interviewer actually says the design gets him “rock hard”)

    I think you can blame them both studios in some capacity for the wacky front clip on the Mazda3.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    For years I’ve complained about the Jet Jaguar school of Japanese automobile design, but never in my wildest dreams did I think they’d graft Jet’s face into an actual production car. Even if this were the best car in the world, I’d walk away…I’d simply be too embarrassed to drive it.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Looks like the hallucinations that Lisa Simpson had when Marge put her on Ignoritall…

    While the “whale tail” design elements in the last iteration of the 3 put me off from buying it, this silly crap (right up there with the “horse-collar” grill of the Edsel) makes me wonder if Mazda has lost their sanity.

    Take a great car with “iffy” styling and ‘improve’ it by making it as friggin’ goofy-looking as possible.

    I can’t wait until one is attacked by a pack of angry Dodge Chargers (wat r U smilng about, punk?) in a mall parking lot.

  • avatar
    LennyZ

    A nice car that is suffering from a poor choice of grills. True it does look like the Joker or maybe Philip IV displaying the prominent “Habsburg lip”. Mazda needs to go in a different direction or their sales will go zoom,zoom.

  • avatar
    v65magnafan1

    So, the 2010 has been available for a few months, right?

    There are lots of Mazda 3′s in my area.

    Do you know how many LSD Fish-Face 3′s I’ve seen on the road so far?

    Zero. Nada. Not one.

    I expect Mazda to design a retrofit, or the 2010′s will be rusting in lots all over North America.

    Great car. Makes a repulsive statement about any purchaser, though.

    Guys, I drive a nine-year-old Crown Vic, but I wouldn’t be seen in a new Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    Yeah that front end is really bad. It’s surprising that so many people let it pass to production. They should have kept the original look. I wouldn’t buy it on look alone (and i saw some rust problem on earlier version)

  • avatar
    QueensMatt

    This was an enjoyable review, and I loved the photos w/ comments, esp. the one of the car’s godforsaken front end. Mazda’s styling lately has become a real obstacle to potential buyers who prefer a simple, refined look.

    I used to drive an ’03 Corolla, and I’ve driven more recent ones as rentals. I think for a driver who’s focused on practical design and comfort, the Mazda suffers in comparison.

    I used to easily get 29 mpg on a mix of mostly city/some hwy driving in that 4-speed automatic Corolla. The Mazda, with newer technology, should get better mileage – maybe it does need a smaller engine.

    Also, why do designers insist on putting the speedometer and tach in separate pods? It’s distracting and makes it harder to scan the instruments quickly. I’ve noticed this same problem in my wife’s ’05 Rav4 – Toyota does this too, on some models it wants to make seem “sportier”.

    I know the Corolla may not drive as well or have the refined transmission or suspension of the Mazda 3. But its instrument panel and controls are a model of simplicity and common sense in comparison.

    On a related note, I’ve driven this car’s other main competition, the Honda Civic, extensively, and that car’s much-maligned instrument panel (2-level digital instruments) works amazingly well – you never have to take your eyes off the road in order to check the key instruments (speed, fuel level, and engine temp).

  • avatar
    Zarba

    One good thing: From the driver’s seat, you can’t see the grille.

    The 3 has been the poor man’s BMW for a few years now, as has already been said.

    Since my old Alfa doesn’t have power steering, our last couple club excursions to the ToftheD have been nice workouts. Probably one of the best roads in the world. Watch out for the kamikaze bikers, and you’ll be OK

  • avatar
    Rada

    Corolla XRS with the 2.4L and TRD springs will smoke this Mazda. Plus, Corolla is a much more refined car, and looks awesome, what can’t be said of the Mazda here.

  • avatar

    Tidbit I picked up from an instructor at Skip Barber.

    NEVER buy a used red Mazda 3 ;-)

  • avatar
    amcadoo

    Someone needs to make some aftermarket “teeth” to put in that grill. That would be hilarious.

    Maybe glue a beard on?

  • avatar

    amcadoo

    Someone needs to make some aftermarket “teeth” to put in that grill. That would be hilarious.?

    Do you mean like this

  • avatar
    SV

    @The Comedian: Oops.

    The new face is slightly obnoxious but really doesn’t bug me at all. I’d still buy a 2010 hatch in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    AlexD

    @ Frank Williams:

    How titillating – but then I have a somewhat embarrassing gap fetish.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Rada :

    Corolla XRS with the 2.4L and TRD springs will smoke this Mazda. Plus, Corolla is a much more refined car, and looks awesome, what can’t be said of the Mazda here.

    TTAC isn’t the ToyotaNation forum.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    @ FreedMike: I think the price of federalizing the C1 platform for Ford’s use in the States was the “price” culprit. Plus, the Mazda can be priced slightly higher than the Focus…even though the base sedans are pretty close in MSRP.

    I think this is a total cop-out for Ford… they say the platform was too expensive to federalize? BS. The S40 Volvo, and the Mazda 3 are on the same platform as the Euro Focus… IT IS ALREADY FEDERALIZED!

    What it comes down to is the fact that American’s are not sophisticated enough to spend real money on these “economy” cars… therefore Ford needs to squeak as much profit as they can out of the Focus by using an outdated platform.

    Of course, when you really break it down the US Focus, Volvo, Mazda, AND the Euro-Focus still share the suspension (control blade rear)…

  • avatar
    ventdiver

    Test drove one of these a couple of months back… a few observations:

    1. The Sport with no options in a darker color would be my pick – you really don’t need any of the options and the dark masks the ugly black plastic “mouth” more effectively.
    2. The cloth seats are fantastic… and it has been quite a while since I’ve said that about cloth seats. The fabric is high quality (no mouse fur!), the bolstering is just right for a daily driven sporty car.
    3. The clutch/shifter is ridiculously easy to modulate. I don’t think I could get a rough shift/stall if I tried. Best front-drive transmission I’ve used in a while.
    4. Handling is very good considering the ride/handling balance, although I felt the whole thing was a bit numb and uninvolving. Of course, I feel that way about most modern cars.
    5. Power and torque are good, especially for this segment, but as mentioned it doesn’t feel eager to rev. For how 95% of people drive, and especially with the automatic the emphasis on low-end and midrange flexibility is probably the right call.
    5. Quality overall seemed very good and improved from the previous generation.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    You don’t federalize a platform, you do a car. The Mazda 3 and 5, and Volvos sell at a higher price. It’s too late now, might as well wait until the next major design cycle when the Focus will supposedly be the same for all markets. The C170 is now 10 years old, that really isn’t bad considering how advanced it was when introduced, and has been tweaked. It’s not like a Fox-platform that was left untouched.

    It’s not that Americans aren’t sophisticated enough, it’s that it’s a tight market. The Focus sells, and well enough for Ford. It’s more basic, and for some people that’s all they need. That is essentially what a Ford has and is all about. Some people don’t want or can’t spend alot on a compact car, just like those that don’t spend alot on a midsize buy stripped-down Fusions, Malibus, Sonatas, etc… Ford is filling the market, and it’s better than their domestic competitors.

    What is “real” money?

    Everyone craves what we can’t get here…but how many actually buy one? Not many bought a Contour or Sierra/XR4Ti when they all said how much they wanted one. I don’t see that changing any bit. Yes, I would have liked a Euro Focus 5-door, but just bought the Mazda instead and even used my X-plan discount. Other vehicle I considered at the time: Civic EP3 hatchback. My Integra had done me well, and the Civic was a quirky Euro-style Honda.

  • avatar
    Flipper

    This whole car is overwrought. I was a big fan of the last gen but this is U G L Y . Start a poll as to how soon the restyle, I’m guessing 20 mths.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    @TEXN3:

    TEXN3 :
    August 28th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    You don’t federalize a platform, you do a car. The Mazda 3 and 5, and Volvos sell at a higher price. It’s too late now, might as well wait until the next major design cycle when the Focus will supposedly be the same for all markets. The C170 is now 10 years old, that really isn’t bad considering how advanced it was when introduced, and has been tweaked. It’s not like a Fox-platform that was left untouched.

    It’s not that Americans aren’t sophisticated enough, it’s that it’s a tight market. The Focus sells, and well enough for Ford. It’s more basic, and for some people that’s all they need. That is essentially what a Ford has and is all about. Some people don’t want or can’t spend alot on a compact car, just like those that don’t spend alot on a midsize buy stripped-down Fusions, Malibus, Sonatas, etc… Ford is filling the market, and it’s better than their domestic competitors.

    What is “real” money?

    Everyone craves what we can’t get here…but how many actually buy one? Not many bought a Contour or Sierra/XR4Ti when they all said how much they wanted one. I don’t see that changing any bit. Yes, I would have liked a Euro Focus 5-door, but just bought the Mazda instead and even used my X-plan discount. Other vehicle I considered at the time: Civic EP3 hatchback. My Integra had done me well, and the Civic was a quirky Euro-style Honda.

    I should have made it clear that I was trying to put the thought process for Ford out there… it’s not that they needed to redesign the crash structure, replace the engines, etc to federalize. The mere fact that the structure is already up to the safety standards of the US obviously didn’t make sense financially for what American’s are willing to spend on a vehicle like this. These cars are “family cars” in the EU and UK… and they are a lot more expensive in their home markets than they could ever sell them for in the US.

  • avatar
    Cynder70

    Bought this model a couple months ago. Love it and the way it looks. My only issue is that the iPod connectivity kit is kind of a drag… have been using bluetooth audio streaming with iphone. Propping up your iphone with the $99 Tom-Tom navigation application is actually better than the factory unit–just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    You did well to hide your disappointment that an automatic showed up for your drive, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers?

    Wake me when you drive the manual. Although the fugly front, over-styled dash, and over-sized engine rule it out for me. And silver plastic still in 2010? This is not the future I imagined.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    This car is FAR too ugly and goofy looking to be taken seriously.

    It could be the best car in the world…and it would still be crap because of the styling.

  • avatar
    dean

    I thought the previous gen 3 sedan was one of the best looking sedans on the market at any price. Very well proportioned to my eye.

    The new sedan is a step back, but I still find it less offensive than the new hatch. I don’t know why Mazda decided the new 3 Sport should look like a Toyota Matrix.

    I’m happy with the ’07 hatch that I’m picking up in 3.5 hours.

  • avatar
    George B

    Looked at Mazdas on a dealer lot yesterday evening. The Mazda 3 is much better in black or dark grey to help hide the smile front fascia. Maybe there is a market for the equivalent of the old car bras to hide front fascia styling mistakes.

  • avatar
    paulie

    ca36gtp
    Mazda did this little nav screen because of cost.
    They wanted to have if more available in more options than a costly one.
    They think their younger buyer wants is but can’t afford the larger.
    Not sure if they did right because I would prefer a small Garman than this.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I had the opportunity to spend a day driving one of these this past spring. The driving experience more than made up for the aesthetic challenges. What I found to be curious is that if you don’t get the NAV system the NAV screen becomes what appears to be a black and white CRT for secondary information that looks like it was stolen from an old TRS-80 console.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Spot on review.

    Mazda seems to have gone overboard with the front end styling (and the nav problem is easily fixed by not opting for it and going aftermarket) but this is truly a great car. I test drove the 3s hatch with the 6 speed manual (the only one with that option on the lot) while my 6 was in service and it’s every bit as fun as the last one was the drive.

    I have no qualms with the increased power of the 2.5 as it gets pretty good mileage for such a big motor. If you don’t like it, well there’s a smaller 2.0 with your name on it.

    The new Speed3 looks a heckuva lot better than the regular 3 though.

  • avatar

    Every time I see one on the road I like it more and more. The “grin” isn’t as noticeable and actually ties it together a bit – I also like the styling being more “Japanese” in character versus the Alfa-light styling from before. The car also just looks way more expensive than anything else in the class. Since BMW refused to bring over the 5-door 1 series, and VW/Audi can’t build a reliable car, this is slowly becoming the choice for me and my wife.

  • avatar
    jtk

    I was hoping to buy one of these pretty soon, but there’s no way I can stomach that front end.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    The angle on photos are always very low, so the grille looks a lot more prominent than it really is. In person your view is angled downward, and it looks different. It’s also less prominent if you get it in black. I think the sedan looks fine. The hatchback… I agree with one of the other commentators in that it looks too much like a Matrix/Vibe. Neither of them looks as nice as the previous generation, of which I own one. I’m not seeing much improvement with this generation, and it’s more expensive, but maybe I’ll have to try one.

    Something that I would be interested in finding out is what percentage of Mazda3s are sold with a manual transmission. I work at a hospital and we have six 3s in the lot. Every single one is manual. I thought it was pretty cool, like these are my homies who drive 3s. There are also 4 Proteges, 3 of which are manual.

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    Lucky me – I live in N.Carolina and work in Tennessee so I get to choose between taking the Tail of The Dragon or the Cherohala Skyway to work and back every week. Unlucky me, I have to do it in a 4-cyl, automatic Camry.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    It makes the Acura TL seem normal.

    No way. That’ll never be normal. The 3 just grins at you – it doesn’t make you want to puke like the TL or Aztek. I’d get over it.

  • avatar
    visualry

    “Maybe there is a market for the equivalent of the old car bras to hide front fascia styling mistakes.”

    There is a bra for this, and it actually makes this look good!

    Being the owner of a 2010 Mazda3 I may be biased :-}, but here were my observations as I decided to purchase one:

    > The front looks MUCH better when the smiley swoop is broken up by a license plate. I think that why people prefer them in person over the promo shots

    > The interior of the new 3 is so much better than that of the old, that it displaces any dissatisfaction with the exterior styling that I have (I prefer the old exterior, but the new is growing on me).

    > Color combos make a difference. I own charcoal, the blue wasn’t gonna happen

    > Man do I love to throw this thing around the bluffland roads that I live near .I think it beats the Golf I no longer drive. Besides, I don’t see my front when I am driving.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    I’m trying to square a monumentally fugly, overpriced, ridiculously low m.p.g. econobox sporting bordello red make-your-eyes bleed instrumentation and a cell-phone sized navigation system with a four-star rating.

    Yeah, it drives nice. But not nearly enough. Not for the money nor to put up with such a hideous “butter face.”

    I’m thinking maybe Mazda supplied a little bit more than a test car and a tank of gas. (Hey, you did say you thought you heard the car talk.) Anyway, it’s quite apparent that Mazda has supplied their designers with mind-altering substances.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Answer: No.
    Aztec ugly. Mitsubishi Montero ugly. 03 Cavalier ugly.

    The Joker, Clown Face or the post mortem shots of the Black Dahlia pretty much describe the sort of ugly this achieves: criminal. A new level.

    Not Taurus “different”, but yes, Tribeca “weird” ugly.

    Ditch those stupid pregnant front fenders as well . They make the car look like it was welded together from two different cars.

    People like to have their pictures taken with their new cars. I’d need a blue dot over my face or a mask to do that.

  • avatar
    PG

    WHY SO SERIOUS?

  • avatar
    V6

    i honestly thought i was the only one truely repulsed by the design of the new 3, glad to see i am not alone.

    i was never a fan of the old 3, and the new one is just so overstyled. i prefered the mid 90′s Mazda, before they turned super conservative. the Mazda Lantis, MS-8, 626 hatch, MX6, Millenia, Eunos 500 were all awesome looking cars and still look good to this day. and as mentioned above, i’d so much prefer a 2.5 V6 than a 4 cylinder. i dont care if the V6 isn’t as torquey, at least it will be hugely more refined and sound a hell of a better than a stinking 4 cylinder.

    i’ll take the Hyundai i30 hatch over a 3, thanks

  • avatar
    dgduris

    I kept expecting that, when I saw one in the flesh it would look better than in the phot.

    I was wrong. Happened today. Came around a corner with that very silly looking grin.

    Weird.

    Perhaps I should try some acid…or lead.

  • avatar

    :D

  • avatar

    I test-drove a 2010 Mazda3s Hatch. It was stripped down as much as they’ll strip it, with the 6-speed manual. It was the loveliest thing I’ve ever driven in my life. The transmission is so well-suited to the motor, the gears notch just so, it makes you feel like you’re driving a chocolate spaceship or some other suitably fantastical machine. I only drove it for about 15 minutes but it was just a grand experience.

    The mpgs were too low for my commute & the price a bit too high, so I ended up with a Honda Fit Sport that I’m very happy with, but every time I see a Mazda3 on the road I’m tickled by a thrill of memory.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I’ve had a non-sport Mazda3 as a rental… Not a bad little car, but pretty cramped and uncomfortable, and I’m only 6’3.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    2.0 liter is only available in the sedan, but not in the hatch. Doh! (21/29 MPG vs 25/34 MPG.) I thought severely limited engine choices was a Europe to USA lost-in-translation thing? I guess one doesn’t buy it for the average gas mileage? (Even the Mazda5 microvan gets 22/28 MPG with a stick.) Right, I forgot the Mazda2 was coming…(right?)

    Forget the whole thing: I’m forced to get leather with the HIDs. And beige seats and trim with the copper paint. Beige is not sporty. Come on, mix things up a bit! Stupid packages…

  • avatar
    rodster205

    Mazda should ask Acura and Subaru how wierd styling, especially front ends, affect sales. How sad. A Speed3 has always been on my short list for next purchase. But it can never be good enough to overcome that ugly face. I will buy a used pre-2010 one that won’t burn my eyes.

  • avatar
    Accords

    matt :
    Does anyone else find the mileage a bit low for an economy car? I get 25 mpg in my 350Z, easily.
    ———
    carguy622 :
    matt: Yeah, 25 MPG is not great for an economy car. I can get better mileage in my TSX, but in all fairness if you wanted economy you’d get the 3i with the 2.0L.

    Hmmm
    I have to disagree with BOTH of you. I am living proof, that ya can get as good mileage.. as ya want with this car.. as I have done with a comparably sized car (00 Accord 4dr 2.3ltr.) I drive 138mi a day, with an average speed of 75.4mph…

    I’ve gotten 500mi per tank, (roughly) 30mpg in my 00 Accord (with 200k). I’ve also gotten 400-420mi (roughly) = 22-25mpg per tank. It all depends on how you drive the car (100k in 3yrs). Some days I drive with the air on, in full traffic, never leaving 1st gear.

    Other days… I’m hittin 80-85 with no traffic, with the windows down for 3 days.. and ya can easily hit 500mi on a tank = 30mpg.

    Also.. I don’t rank the car as economy. Economy cars aren’t sporty, don’t have the engine displacement, and aren’t nearly as good looking as this. In-addition, ya can pick up the hatch with the 2.5 and really run the car as hard or as light as ya want.

    I have also test driven the Civic for the current m.y., my wife’s Focus, and the Mazda 3 clearly has this down pat.

    It has a better interior than the Civic, definitely better than the Focus (of any m.y).

    Its also more fun to drive than the Civic and a better use of interior design (against the acres of underused plastic dash / i.p, and underdeveloped center section). Focus.. just no.

    Heck.. if the Mazda wasn’t around, I’d be relegated to driving the Civic (wont buy another Accord — too damn BIG).. which I do like, just hate the interior. Id actually prefer the Civic hatch from Europe in some sport form.. but Honda is focusing on the Fit as their entry car with the hatch as its only design, with the Civic and Accord to be coupes or sedans in the U.S and Canada.

    SO basically.. there is a giant hole in the middle.. for a compact sedan, with a hatch, that is smaller than Accord, and more useful than the Fit.

    The Mazda 3 (for me, hatch) is more drivable, more fun, with more STANDARD features (including the optional hatch design and a optional larger motor than BOTH).

    Civic only has a 1.8, and while its fine.. its not large enough. Least Honda could do is offer an optional turbo (oh wait that’s for Acura) for the Si’s.

    Not to mention the curb weight is 3000lbs and is virtually the same size as Corolla, Civic, and lighter than my 00 Accord.

    Oh yeah..
    The front of the Mazda 3 isn’t horrible, but I’m sure it can grow on me. The design actually comes from Mazda’s design concept the Nagare. This concept debuted all over the world in autoshows as a new direction in styling for Mazda as a whole.

    http://photos.webridestv.com/datastore/images/user/f555a19ea1104d5f6b39c2308b120232/Mazda_Nagare_Concept_Sports_Car_84063_20080605.jpg

    The design itself is interesting to look at if not polarizing as a icon /halo/ image car. (Vette / Viper).

    However..
    To only use the fascia on a virtually every vehicle sold by Mazda.. is a little lame. But interesting to look at. They could have added some more body colored pieces instead of black plastic trim on the fascia. I’m sure ya could add some plastic-chrome to it, or work with it somehow.

    Its think the look is decent and its appealing in a different kind of way. Cars shouldn’t have to be mean or aggressive for them to be nice to look at.
    —————–
    ca36gtp :
    That navigation screen is hilariously terrible. How are you supposed to see that without binoculars?

    Did Mazda just stuff a Tom Tom into some black plastic trim and call it a day?
    —————–
    In their defense..
    Im sure they thought about every detail, and reading the info screen.. with binoculars.. just isnt feasible.

    You CAN get the car without navigation. But that screen.. is about perfect for radio info, mpg info and or more car info. I believe it has a red text and or very readable.

    http://jalopnik.com/photogallery/2010mazda3int/1007806921

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Was out shopping cars for my 18 year old daughter, even she could not stand the new front end treatment and would rather have an 09 model. Ford was so stupid to drop the hatchback focus! Honda just as ignorant not bringing over the civic hatch, I going to try and wait for the Kia forte hatch and give it a serious (pun intended) look. If it comes in a three door hatch they will get the sale.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Tell me those bumpers survive a 5 mph impact with anything harder than a box of Kleenex and I’ll laugh.

  • avatar

    GS650G

    Tell me those bumpers survive a 5 mph impact with anything harder than a box of Kleenex and I’ll laugh.

    They’re not designed to. The Mulroney sticker on it clearly states “The bumper system on this vehicle conforms to the current federal bumper standard of 2.5 miles per hour.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    frozenman :
    August 29th, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Was out shopping cars for my 18 year old daughter, even she could not stand the new front end treatment and would rather have an 09 model. Ford was so stupid to drop the hatchback focus!

    +1 on that one!!! I think it was the best-looking of the Focuses (Focii?). I bought an ’05 ST sedan but came THIS close to getting a lightly used ’04 SVT 5-door in red. Unfortunately, someone bought it out from under me.

  • avatar
    Accords

    FreedMike:

    If ya gonna buy a Focus and IF ya can wait..

    Get the 2011 model…
    Its going to have multiple body styles.. including a HATCH and maybe the 2.5.

    With a fantastic interior..
    The car… will essentially be an all new for the U.S car.. even though, the 2011 Focus, Mazda 3 and Volvo C30 are related.

    The current Focus, and the 05.. are merely a very light but EXPENSIVE refresh on the current frame and body. = Same car going back to 1999.

    And the reason why Ford dropped the wagon Focus.. besides the that early model was such shit..

    Is because the same buyer was comparing the wagon variant to the Escape, AND buying the Escape.. as a VALUE proposition. Same reason why more variations on Civic arent here and why the Accord Crosstour is going to fail… because the CRV / RDX, MDX and Pilot are around…

    Because the market is gungho on higher, bloated, top heavy, gutless, semi-quasi utility vehicles…

  • avatar
    impala

    I may be in a minority here but I love the look of the hatchback and just took delivery of a 2010 Mazda3 s 5-Door Hatchback GT Automatic with all the toys (Tech/Bose and a bunch of dealer accessories). I have driven it 200 miles so far and love its handling and utility. It’s my first Mazda ever and I am hoping it will give me years of reliable service as my research seemed to indicate.
    Thanks for the review!

  • avatar
    matt

    @Accords
    You may not see this car as economy, but I guarantee that most people don’t buy one as a sports car/GT. It’s a sporty economy car, but it’s still an economy car. And for an economy car to have an EPA rating (21/29 with the 2.5 has been said above, I believe) that’s similar to my car (19/26 with a 3.5 and 100 more HP), is kinda disappointing.

    I agree that since the reviewer was hammering the car, the mileage isn’t the best, but I had an 01 Saturn that NEVER saw below 30 mpg, no matter how hard I drove it. I’m consistently disappointed by the “economy” of today’s small cars.

  • avatar

    Fug that thing’s hideous.

    When was the last time a Japanese manufacturer introduced a car that was more desirable than the one it replaced?

    Okay, the 370Z.

    Before that? ’99 Civic?

    That Cherohala Skyways a mo-fo. Had the Boxster way north of 140 on the sweepers. Ice on the roads when you get higher up, even in November. It can be interesting.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    To those people laughing about the front end of the 2008 Lancer sharky look.
    Look at the 2010 Mazda’s front end it’s MORE FUNNIER. I prefer the sharky look of my Lancer than a happy looking and annoying front end. The only thing new on this Mazda is the front end everything else looks the same. There is no leg room in the rear seats, unfortunately on every Mazda car.

    Tiny buttons on the steering wheel and NAV system is so stupid,

    It doesn’t have DVD,650 Watts audio system, etc etc 167 hp oohhh please. But the problem is people still buy Mazda than Mitsubishi. oh well!

    I put 2.5 gallons the other day on my 2008 Lancer and I got 100 miles from that 2.5 gallons.

    Mazda is not a sport Sedan never compare Mazda to Subaru STI and Evo X.
    You Wish!

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    Alrighty then! From my user name one could infer that I am the choir.

    My ’06 Velocity Red 3i is just about the funnest car I have ever owned.

    As noted above, this car IS the poor man’s BMW; when equipped with the 2L non-turbo four, manual tranny & (aftermarket)Pioneer D4 Nav/Radio this bad boy gets me 31mpg when driving it just about as fast as I dare (which means as close to 80 at all times).

    Plus the enthusiasts websites/community is second only to the Honda crowd.

    I got mine for 16,600 in late 2005. For 10 grand more I would put this up any 3 series (except Herr M) on any twisty race track anywhere. This car is just that much fun.

    Now, yes the seats are comfortable, but this is a econobox, so there is a lot of cheap (read hard) black plastic everywhere & that engine buzz on very long trips (Atlanta to Ft Polk & back) can be tiresome, but again, this is just one fun car.

    Now I have an 80 mile daily commute (I test drove mine from the Hennesy Mazda lot at 2 miles on the odo; I just rolled over 112,000 last month) & other than being hit by a piece of metal that fell off a FedEx truck, it has been very reliable (& I am a religious fanatic when it comes to 3000 mile oil changes).

    Since my kid just started at Georgia State this year, I intende to drive this to her 2013 graduation(& beyond) & I fully expect it to be trouble free, but very fun, voyage.

    In other words, if you don’t have the money to buy a 335 (If you have to lease, you don’t have the money in my book) run, don’t walk to your nearest Mazda dealer (you can get parts straight from the factory in Hiroshoma to change the hideous front end) & give this 3 a try.

    • 0 avatar
      stevemd

      Funny you should mention BMW. I’ve owned several 3 series through 2006. When I first drove my wife’s 2005 Mazda 6i with sport, I thought if BMW ever did a fwd, this is how it should drive and handle. Yes, I know, mini cooper, never been in one, no interest…

  • avatar
    Accords

    BEAT:
    In case you didnt know…

    The 3 hatch ONLY can be had with the SPEED VERSION and CAN take the Lancer EVO on easily. This also can easily run with the Impreza STI WRX.

    As far as why people would buy the Mazda over the Mitsu Evo.. it has a lot to do with their previous issues with Mitsu’s WARRANTY and the quality of their cars. Mitsu is basically nil / has no presence in the market and have to deal with old designs of the Galant / Diamante. All Mitsu has to sell.. is a Eclispe with its best days behind it, and a couple of soft roaders trying to vie for competition against better known brands and or vehicles.

    They tried a few years a back with some edgy commercials featuring the midsized sedan stalwarts and a Galant.. and it didnt go real far.

    As far as interior features go.. buttons really mean little. Ya really cant stuff a lot on the wheel since every car has virtually the same real estate. Some use it better than others.

    And you’d actually be quite stupid to buy this or any current car FOR the navigation system.. when a easily upgradeable, cheaper and portable unit can be moved from car to car… ntm the prices automakers are asking people to pay for the things.. totally not worth it.

    As far as the size of the actual screen used.. its perfect for info on the vehicle, that can be read at a glance, which is exactly how I found its usefulness — since I HATE nav systems with the passion of 10,000 suns.
    —————————-
    Matt:
    I am definitely not like most people. I actually like to drive.. and I would buy this car to really enjoy it.

    As for as the actual difference between a sports car.. and a GT.. the line is totally blurred.

    You could go out and spend 140g on a Maser QP thats a “GT”, or buy a Mustang / Camaro / Challenger, Z or a Genesis Coupe (if ya consider anything Hyun/Kia makes sporty or GT worthy) for a “sports car”.

    The terms are truly is what you make of it. That’s why Ive seen that GT badge on the last gen Hyundai Elantra WAGON. EVEN the AUTOMAKERS screw that one up. And last time I checked.. I dont see owners of Elantra GT wagons.. taking turns in downpours of rain, and or snow at about 70.

    Again as for as 21 / 29.. That’s right inline with my Accord from 00 with 200k doing 138mi a day. I bet I could make that car do in the 30s easily. Shouldn’t / couldn’t be that hard.. stay in the 60s early 70s… for a coupla thousand miles.. to break the motor in.

    If its competition for mileage ya want.. the Civic 4dr rated on the Monroney at about 25/35 (probably with the stick).

    Im sure there is other “competition” against the Vibe / Matrix and the stuff from Hyun / Kia for mpg..

    The Mini Cooper doesn’t even get that good.. and they want 20g just to START WITH! That doesn’t even get ya the JCW version. Lord knows people don’t buy them with the stick.. or for its go-cart handling.

    Then ya lookin at the 13g SMART Fortwo at about 18 or so.. AND its FUEL eco sucks.. for the size. It SHOULD get into the 40s..

    But its a size v weight v motor comparo.

    And for the size and what ya get.. the Mazda 3 hatch is awesome. Heck, it could be compared to the 4dr Golf / Rabbit… but in the GTI version.

    It would also be a shoe in against the Civic hatch from Europe.

    But that car.. would be an awesome ride for anyone who looooooooves to drive!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    matt : I get 25 mpg in my 350Z, easily.

    Then you’d get about 30 mpg from a 2.5L Mazda3, easily. The fuel will be cheaper too.

  • avatar
    dean

    Mazda isn’t trying to compete on economy with this car. Their brand proposition is to be just a little more sporty than the competition, and buyers must be willing to sacrifice some economy and up-front capital cost for it.

    So if you opt for the hatch you get a car with handling comparable to an Audi A3 (maybe even better) for a little more than a Civic.

  • avatar
    tscurt

    I can’t get the face to work for me in person or picture. For one, it takes up too much of the front end. It has the fixed smile of a Vicodin user.

  • avatar
    wd1094

    I thinks its a great looking car.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The previous 3 was much better looking!

  • avatar
    jeventures

    I drive and ’04 3 hatch, manual and have no complaints. The car gives just the right amount of feedback at all times and hugs the road, especially with upgraded tires. I’ve driven the Cherohala Skyway and Tail of the Dragon on my motorcycle numerous times and can’t wait to make the drive in my car this fall.

  • avatar
    jeventures

    Oh, and the new look of the 2010 smiley face…I’m happy with my ’04 wannabe beemer z lines any day.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    A lot of people seem to be hating on the new Mazda3′s appearance, but to be honest, I like it.  Bold design is always met with controversy. Props to Mazda for having the guts to design something that looks fresh, rather than having the 3 look like all the other small cars which are boring and all look the same.

    Also, I’m glad Mazda is sticking with their philosophy of making all their cars fun to drive. Even in its last generation, which I own, the Mazda3 was a cut above its competetition in terms of driving dynamics, and it looks like they’ve continued that with the next generation.

    In a market where exciting cars are dropping out of production and being replaced by Priuses, it’s nice to know that at least one manufacturer is there to deliver driving excitement to everyday people.

  • avatar
    Accords

    Hmmm
    I hate to say this…
    Ive driven Accords for a long time. They arent the most sporty.. but I do my best to wring it out.
    As far as Camry goes.. I dont think I could get anything out of that car.
    The Civic is a bit better… it is lighter, and has a decent motor, even though its limited to a 2.0.
     
    Now as far as the Corolla goes..
    God I hate to say this.. (please lord dont strike me). That damn car.. is as boring as it gets. The hundred billion of the little bastards I see on the road everyday for my hr ride to and from work.. doesn’t do anything my view towards the car.
    Its always Silver.
    Its always the 2.0 / base model.
    Its never in the hatch / Matrix.. and its absolutely gutless. As bulletproof as the car MIGHT be.. ya still got issues with Toyota as a whole regarding the current firestorm.
     
    And I hate to start talking smack…
    But the Mazda3 hatch.. in the Speed3 version.. would take the Corolla to the CLEANERS.
     
    Then again..
    This is the same conpany that released the current version months late because the design wasnt finished. Then we finally see it.. and it doesn’t look they CHANGED ANYTHING! This is ya venerable big deal? A car that literally looks the same way it did for the past 10yrs?

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    Just picked up my brand new Mazda3 i Touring 5 spd yesterday. I traded in my 2008 Xterra, which was a fine truck and I loved it, but was just too damn thirsty for a daily driver. My payments went down, 0.0% financing and I should double my gas milage. You would laugh if I said what my payments were on a brand new car.

    chose the 3i for max gas milage and it has everything I need. I personally love the styling. Got a black one so the smile is a bit subdued and it looks positively conservative compared to my Xterra (obviously)

    The interior is wonderful for a sub 20k car. All of my vehicles have been manuals save for the recently departed Xterra and the 3′s five speed is the smoothest one I have ever driven by light years.

    Could have lived without the bluetooth but I could not live without keyless entry.

  • avatar

    Just bought my 2011 Mazda3 5-door a week ago. I love it.

  • avatar
    stevemd

    In spite of their indifferent vehicle prep (stains, stone chips, sand in trunk) I bought a 80k one owner 2010 sport same as this one, only slick shifting 6 speed manual from carmax 2 weeks ago. It is fun as balls and I can’t wait for the 2014 autocross season.

    New spark plugs will be here tomorrow. The car still has the factory plugs in it. Running some fuel system cleaner through a tank of gas then an oil change since god knows what carmax put in the sump. Air filter ok, cleaned MAF.

    As for the ‘smile’ if you get one in a dark color like black or this dark grey, it becomes less obvious. It just looks like a million other econoboxes on the road but can show its tail lights to most of them before you can say zoo.. er, never mind.


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