By on November 24, 2008

The night before the LA Auto Show, Mazda had a select group of journalists drive the new Mazda3. We from TTAC were not among them. But digital buff book (buff site?) Edmunds’ InsideLine was, and so were the very graphic-saavy guys at Motive Magazine. Overall they both seem to like the car, though in all honesty the assessment is predictable. Bigger, better MPGs, not as sharp as the original. I’m more troubled that an “economy” car has a 2.5 liter engine. Yes, the 2.0 is still standard, but seriously 2.5? Mazda3? I mistakenly presumed that Japan’s engineers believed there is a replacement for displacement. In any case, check out the reviews if you dare at Edmunds and Motive.

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23 Comments on “New 2010 Mazda3 Reviews Hitting the Web...”

  • avatar

    It’s been clear ever since Nissan introduced their 3.5-liter V6 that the Japanese were only against the “bigger is better” philosophy until they introduced their own large engines.

    In case you haven’t noticed, both Japan and Europe have been turning American, at least with the products they sell in the U.S.

    These days, American cars often have smaller engines and lesser dimensions than their imported competitors.

    Sorry to hear that the new Mazda3 isn’t as sharp.

  • avatar

    There seems to be conflicting information on the new 3’s weight… Edmunds claims a weight gain of 58-111 lb, whereas Motive claims a weight loss of 80-90 lb for the 3i. Anyone knows which source is right?

  • avatar

    What happened to the Direct Injection 2.0L. I read an early Euro review that had a DI 2.0L.
    “Mazda has made a major leap forward with its new direct-injection engines.

    The new 2.0-litre DI engine – driving a very slick six-speed manual ‘box – is impressively smooth, refined and torquey.”

    Now I read the 2.0L is the same old 2L. This was the main reason I was interested in the car. Now it sounds like this was mainly a cosmetic overhaul and not for the better.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    In Europe, the entry-level 3 has a 1.4 with 80 raging horses. The 2.0 is the most powerful engine, and there is a range of diesels.

    2.5? American market special apparently.

  • avatar

    21/29 out of the 2.5 is kind of lame if you ask me. But it’s a power-tuned motor, so OK I guess. Still, GM’s got a 2.4 that returns 22/33 in the substantially bigger Malibu (w/ the 6-speed auto). I’m excited to see what the wagon/hatch looks like, the current models are so well-proportioned I hope they do as good a job with the 2010!

  • avatar

    The 2.5 would really need to be something special for me to give up the gas mileage of the 2.0…
    Call me a Honda-fanboy, but I would much rather see a 167HP 2.0 liter… In my mind, a 2.5 liter 4 is a truck motor… Or a 944 motor, but this isn’t a 944.
    Why can’t I get the 6-speed and all the other options with the 2.0!?!? Did Mazda miss the recent gas price fluctuations??

  • avatar

    It’s not about the power but about torque which is why the bigger engine makes with the 5 spd auto. As a commuter car I have an 08 3s and the larger engine and auto transmission make for very relaxed driving in city traffic – free of the high rpm buzz of smaller engines. The mileage could be higher (for me a consistently 24Mpg in city driving) but the benefits are worth it.

  • avatar

    21/29 out of the 2.5 is kind of lame if you ask me. But it’s a power-tuned motor, so OK I guess. Still, GM’s got a 2.4 that returns 22/33 in the substantially bigger Malibu (w/ the 6-speed auto)

    Its important to note that:
    * EPA cycle only matters if you drive like EPA testers. Otherwise, your mileage may vary
    * Transmission, weight, tires and aerodynamics play into overall fuel consumption. Mazda usually has very short gearing and pretty sticky (and fast-wearing) tires on even their base models; GM’s transmissions reach for the goddamn moon at every opportunity, and the base tires are usually fuel misers.
    * The short-wagonoid hatchback body has real issues with drag that fastback sedans and hatches avoid.

  • avatar

    For reasons unknown to me, Mazda vehicles (in the US, at least) don’t post impressive fuel economy figures, even going back to the 70’s and 80’s before they promoted “zoom-zoom.”

  • avatar

    Ob. nit: “ditigal”?

    Styling: overdone, based on the shots I see at Edmunds. There is the obvious gaper in the front, with a bulbous solid nose-panel. And the hood-bulge/flat-top-fender is fugly detail. Look at the spot where the hood, fender and A-pillar meet. Maybe it will look better in the metal, but from the pictures, not promising. The tail seems Avalon-inspired, too tall, bulging and generic. Maybe the hatch will be better.

    Specs: Inline-4s with 2.5 litre displacement have usually had poor NVH qualities, not sure how this mill sounds. Also 21/29 mpg is not impressive in this category.

    Several of my younger colleagues have Mazda 3’s, and I liked the balance of value, fun, simplicity and practicality in this package – specially the hatch. Not sure if the new revision improves this balance.

  • avatar

    For me it’s not about the power but about torque which is why the bigger engine makes with the 5 spd auto. As a commuter car I have an 08 3s and the larger engine and auto transmission make for very relaxed driving in city traffic – free of the high rpm buzz of smaller engines. The mileage could be higher (for me a consistently 24Mpg in city driving) but the benefits are worth it.

  • avatar

    Subaru has been using a 2.5L 4 cyl. as standard equipment in the Impreza for some time now. Why is it surprising that someone else is looking to do the same? Not only that, the last gen Mazda3 had an optional 2.4L. Is .1 liters really that much of a difference?

  • avatar

    I love Motive, and they gave a good review. That’s probably my favorite online car site, they just have everything. Great reviews that are about as unbiased as they come, interesting stories on various car-related things, lots of media (both audio, video, and still photos), and an awesome layout.

  • avatar

    Less sharp? Ouch. Sorry to hear that.

  • avatar

    I’ll hold off commenting on reviews until you guys post one, or I have a chance to review the car in person.

  • avatar

    Less sharp? Ouch. Sorry to hear that.

    Such was the criticism of the first 3 versus the Protege. Better absolute numbers, less fun to drive.

    Mazda wants to be Volkswagen, at least in North America. Considering how bad a job Volkswagen does at being Volkswagen, and how Acura and Volvo are completely screwing the pooch, this is a ripe market and entirely attainable.

    Other than Subaru, the premium car market is pretty much open season.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Sad to hear the new model’s less sharp. What is so wrong with a 2.5L engine in a compact car? I’m in favor of the decision and it definitely increases my chances of buying one. If they can put a monster 2.3L turbo 260hp beast under the hood, and you love it, what’s wrong with a little compromise? Mazdas tend to get disappointing fuel economy, but as noted by other TTACers above, that is simply a penalty of the Zoom-Zoom.

  • avatar

    All missing the point. Get ready for a north american launch date for the Mazda 2.

  • avatar

    woah woah woah, TTAC. Not as sharp? The 2.5L S model is indeed heavier, but nowhere in those 2 reviews does it say that you can feel the extra 50 lbs. And besides, the base I model is 90 lbs lighter than the outgoing model.

    If anything, the reviews say that everything in the new car is at least as good as the old one. In fact, Motive says the chassis feels “stiffer” and the steering “tight and responsive”. It’s fashionable in auto journalism to say “Meh, the old model was better”, but it’s not always the case. Let’s not confuse truth with conjecture, shall we?

    (I own a Mazda3i, but I’m no fanboy; I’m not a fan of the way the new one looks)

  • avatar

    I can’t figure out if the new 3 has the face of a cat or a fish, but it has an underbite for sure. That overhead 3/4 shot next to the headline is the best looking of the bunch. Mazda has followed their Japanese brethren over the aesthetic cliff.

  • avatar

    The best I can say about the new styling is that it doesn’t look as hideous as some of the alternatives Mazda was playing with; I was in some consumer clinics a couple of years ago, where they showed us what were obviously development mockups of replacements of the 3. Beyond that…ehh.

    As a current 3 owner, I feel like the main areas that needed change would be (in no particular order):

    – Better rear-seat access. The actual rear-seat room is fine, but the rear doors are remarkably narrow, enough to make clambering in and out a challenge. My parents can only manage it with liberal use of the grab handles and a lot of cursing.
    – Better A/C. The undersized compressor and condenser of the 3 (smaller than the Protege that preceded it) are seriously challenged by 90-degree weather; I would hate to be a Texan. Glass with a modicum of solar control would help a lot — the glass looks tinted, but bright sun is punishing.
    – Less chintzy dashboard materials. Unlike Jonny, I don’t mind the sunken instrument cluster, but the cheesy silver plastic surround is pure Hyundai, and the fake carbon fiber strip across the dash is tacky. If they wanted to give me a straightforward set of white-on-black instruments like an early-90s Honda or BMW, I would be all for that.
    – A fuel economy gauge would be handy.
    – Better aerodynamics. A Cd of 0.33 is not too impressive these days, and a lower CdA would help the so-so highway mileage.
    – Better gear ratios. The current 5-speed has an absurdly short 1st gear, then falls off a cliff into 2nd, which in slow traffic frequently gives you the unappetizing choice of staying in 1st, with the engine revving madly, or lugging in 2nd, Then 5th is on the short side — about 22 mph/1000 rpm — which has the big engine revving at around 3200 rpm at 70 mph, a little unnecessary given its torque. A 6-speed with a taller top gear and more evenly space ratios would help both performance and fuel economy. I’m not thrilled with the sturdiness of the shift linkage or the robustness of the synchros, either; the existing 5-speed is working a lot closer to its torque capacity than makes me happy.
    – Better steering feel. The steering of the current car is nearly ideal in ratio, lock, and weight, but in really tight maneuvers or steering corrections, it’s frustratingly numb. It has too much boost at highway speeds, too, which is not confidence-inspiring at 80+ mph.

    I would like to see a stoplight fuel-shutoff system. This is not new technology (VW was talking about introducing this to its U.S. cars in the early 80s, but falling fuel prices made them reconsider), but it would benefit real-world city mileage, without the wear and tear on the starter motor of turning on and off the ignition.

    I like the 3 a lot, and I wish they’d done a better job with its replacement.

  • avatar

    There’s a Canadian car review site that I like reading because their reviews are fair and often focus on things that are important to Canadians, like how a car will handle snow. They also have week long tests with cars which often point out the little things about cars that you wouldn’t notice immediately.

    Anyway, they have a first drive review of the 2010 Mazda3 on their site:

  • avatar

    I will withold final styling judgement until I see the car in person, but I like just about everything except for the big gaping maw. It seems almost as if it were designed to frame a front license plate (which may be fine for those who live in backwards places that require such nonsense, but sort of sucks for the rest of us).

    The 2.5 liter engine is smooth and responsive in its duties in the Ford Escape, and is worlds better than the older 2.3, although I am not sure why it makes less hp in the Mazda. In any event a 2.5 is hardly a big engine, even for a four cylinder.

    Fuel economy numbers aren’t bad either in the grand scheme of things, especially as Mazda will likely bring the 2 to our shores. Anything that averages over 20 mpg for both city and highway falls under the ‘good’ fuel economy heading for most US buyers.

    As for lack of automatic shutoff at stop, there have been a number of articles that have basically stated that automakers have considered adding it, but after market research they discovered it freaked out many American drivers. For the modest fuel economy savings (and the buyers it will attract) I can only assume manufacturers are unwilling to potentially alienate a large portion of their customer base (and yes, I know hybrids already do this, but anyone buying a hybrid knows what they are getting into, and a lot of people are still unwilling to jump on that bandwagon until it matures anyway).

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