2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Blends Into the Weekend
April 05, 2010
I've already put a lot of miles on our long-term 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, so there's an instant familiarity as soon as I get into it. The more I drive the MS3, the more impressed I am by how comfortable, refined and utterly useful this car is in everyday driving.
Ride quality is uncommonly good for a competitively priced sport compact with 18-inch wheels and summer tires. It was good on my road trip to NorCal, and it's still very tolerable on the grooved (and now potholed) slabs on LA freeways.
I also like the size of the interior. Obviously, you wouldn't choose a compact car if you need vast amounts of interior room, but I was able to carry around two adults, in addition to myself, for an afternoon without anyone being at all uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the hatch area efficiently swallowed all our stuff.
Of course, all this utility is balanced against the semi-explosive feel of the turbocharged 2.3-liter under full throttle and the Mazdaspeed 3's sharp turn-in. And contrary to other reports, I quite enjoy shifting this car -- heel-and-toeing is great fun. It's certainly true that the clutch has a gotcha-style engagement in low-speed traffic, but once you recalibrate your foot for that, shifts come easily, though, admittedly, not altogether smoothly. A minor annoyance, I say.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,751 miles