2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Not that long ago...
November 17, 2009
...the Protege5 was the sportiest hatchback/wagon thing you could buy from Mazda.
Arguably the best handling car in its class, the Protege, like most Mazdas over the years, was always saddled with an uncompetitive motor. In base trim, the two liter motor gave you 130 horsepower. The MP3 Protege gave you 10 more, but asked for premium octane in return. The turbo added to the Mazdaspeed Protege bumped power to 170, but it was just no match for the WRX's, Civic Si's and most other tuned compact cars of the day. They were fun, but slow.
Well, those days are gone.
Not only does the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 carry on the Mazda tradition of exceptional handling and steering feel, but now this thing's finally got a motor. Make that a motor-and-a-half. In any gear at any speed, this new hatchback/wagon thing just moves. But it's tractable too! Pull it up from 1500 rpm in sixth gear and there's no protest. And once you get into the boost (the transition going from off-boost to on-boost is very smooth) the motor just powers ahead. It's really, really impressive.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 2,905 miles