2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Long Term Road Test - Introduction

Long-Term Test: 2010 Mazdaspeed 3

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2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 - Introduction

In 2007 the Mazdaspeed 3 was born. We were immediately smitten. Mazda's in-house tuner car quickly earned top honors in the land of sport compact cars. Though Mazda was relatively new to the scene after a couple special editions of the Protégé, the Mazdaspeed 3 already offered best-in-class power, grip and cornering balance. No other vehicle in this price range could match its level of sport and practicality, and it wasn't long before we realized this Mazdaspeed 3 could even hold its own against more expensive vehicles. This was the car to beat for the past three years. And for 2010 it was all new.

We've tested the Mazdaspeed 3 through all generations and against all comers, so it was significant that early impressions of this 2010 MS3 were positive. Engineering Editor Jasan Kavanagh wrote, "Styling wasn't what the MS3 was all about when it was introduced. It was about being a practical and cost-effective ass-kicker. And the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 still is."

Further support for the new 3 came from Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot. Jacquot added, "On the street, driving hard over rough pavement, the new car is outstanding. And it doesn't really matter how stupid you decide to get. Want to dive into a suspension-crushing dip filled with rough pavement at 80 mph? No problem, the new car can handle it."

We have tested the Mazdaspeed numerous times. So why test it again?

What We Got
There weren't many options when it came time to order our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. Would you like the Sport trim? Good, that's your only choice. How about optional convenience packages? Want some of those? There is one, and we ordered it. For $1,900 the Mazdaspeed Tech package adds a 10-speaker surround-sound system, six-month Sirius radio subscription, color navigation screen, keyless entry and push-button start. There aren't many cosmetic options, either. A hatchback is the only body style available. And all interiors come two-toned, red and black.

Mazda has removed the guesswork from all performance-related options, so one size fits all. Standard go-fast equipment includes P225/40R18 Dunlop SP Sport 2050 summer tires and a six-speed manual transmission. The Mazdaspeed 3 is powered by the same DOHC, 16-valve, direct-injection 2.3-liter four-banger. Turbocharged and intercooled, the engine generates 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Power is delivered to the front tires via a torque-sensing limited-slip differential. Stability control and traction control are also standard.

When all was said and done, we scanned the lower right corner of the window sticker. Our Velocity Red Mica Mazdaspeed 3 cost $25,840 out the door.

Why We Got It
For 2010 the Mazdaspeed 3 has been redesigned and minor cosmetic alterations distinguish it from previous generations — most notably, the smiley face that creates a functional air induction duct at the front of the car. The suspension has also been refined from the previous generation to improve both ride quality and handling. In addition to suspension alterations, a new electric power steering pump and taller gear ratios add to the mechanical updates for 2010.

The Mazdaspeed 3 is the king of the sport compact world. And it has been since its inception. Through the years we've scrutinized the champ alongside competitive four-cylinders and more powerful six-cylinder rivals alike. Its record has remained spotless; it has never lost an Edmunds.com comparison test.

The list of fallen is lengthy. In 2007 the Mazdaspeed 3 surfaced victorious in a subcompact shoot-out between the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S, Subaru Impreza WRX and Volkswagen GTI. In 2008 the MS3 retained its title following a rematch versus the previous year's top contender, the WRX. In 2009 the Mazda defeated the newest variations of Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and Impreza WRX. And for 2010 we raised the stakes, pitting the 3 in a comparison with the 3.8-liter Hyundai Genesis coupe and yet again the Mazda came out on top.

We've tested them all. Yet no other sport compact offered in the U.S. holds a candle to the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. So it seems there is only one test remaining. Without further delay we begin the final test, Mazdaspeed 3 versus time. Over the next 12 months and 20,000 miles we'll do our best to beat this Mazda. Bring on the rush-hour traffic gridlock, slobbering dogs and Cheerio-wielding children. It's all going down on the long-term blog pages.

Current Odometer: 564

Best Fuel Economy: 22.0 mpg

Worst Fuel Economy: 17.8 mpg

Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 19.9 mpg

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests