A Sport Compact With an Edge - 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term Road Test

2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term Road Test

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: A Sport Compact With an Edge

April 08, 2010

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Because I can, I'm going to pile onto Mike's "Hot Hatch Not Found" entry from yesterday. I, too, have spent time in both our long-term 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 and 2010 Volkswagen GTI recently. And, as Magrath says, the difference between them is stark.

The Mazdaspeed 3 has an edge to it -- and the gotcha clutch uptake is only the beginning of it. Throttle response is sharper in the Mazda, with less of a damped-for-your-commuting-comfort feel. Turn-in also feels much quicker in this car. And everything, from the engine note to road noise, is a few notches higher than in the GTI.

It's as if the Mazda wants to remind you that, yes, you are in a sport compact, even if it is a practical hatchback. If you're on a back road with it, you better get on the throttle hard coming out of corners. You better drive the car, you know.

The more I mull, the more I think that this quality is becoming rare(r) in the sport compact class. Already, we have the GTI and the current-generation Impreza WRX (yep, even the 2009 and 2010), both of which are blissfully compliant and quiet on the freeway.

I understand the point behind making such cars more livable and accessible for people who get stuck in traffic. You end up selling more and then there's a business case for building more fun cars.

But for myself, I will continue to prefer the edgier sport compacts, the ones like the Mazdaspeed 3, turbo Cobalt SS and Civic Si that are a little noisier and a little more demanding of their driver.

Which side are you on?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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