2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term Road Test

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Audio & Technology

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: A Moment of Clarity

November 23, 2010


A while back I noted that our Mazdaspeed 3's navigation screen lacked contrast at night. At the time, I couldn't find an adjustment for brightness/contrast, only a night and day setting. I was stuck in stop and go traffic last night and while stationary, I found the elusive brightness/contrast sliders in the information preferences menu, not under the nav menus. Adjusting the screen for night driving, however, isn't as intuitive as I thought.

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Eine Kleine NachtMonitor

October 21, 2010


Fall is here. That means no more driving home when the sun is still out. After I hopped into our Mazdaspeed 3 last night for the journey home, I decided to give the navigation a run through. My biggest complaint: the monitor itself.

Strike One: It's small. About the same size as my iPhone screen. It's also placed a little too far away for its size.

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: One Big Knob

September 20, 2010


This, friends, is how it should be. One big knob for tuning the radio. I'm tired of punching buttons. Aren't you?

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Hello Zoom Zoom

September 17, 2010


This is the welome message which appears in the multi-information display of a first-generation Mazda 3 -- a normal car for normal people.

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Audio Review

September 15, 2010


Our hot little 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 is hoot to hoon and (naturally) a favorite among the heavy-footed on the editorial staff. And with a sticker price that pushes just past $23k, it's also a road rocket that won't burn a hole in most pockets. But if you want good stereo sound from the factory, you got to pay up.

The premium Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system is part of the pricey $1,895 Tech Package on our long-term MS3, which also includes a "compact" in-dash nav system and keyless entry/pushbutton start. So the almost-$2,000 question is whether paying for all the extras to get the Bose audio is worth it. In a word: Yes. For more words on the system's merits and to see how it measures up, keep reading.

The Setup
The Bose system in the MS3 consists of 10 speakers powered by 242 watts. One is a 5.25-inch woofer cleverly mounted in a sealed enclosure that sits atop the spare tire in the hatch. We've seen a similar setup from Bose before (in our former long-term 2009 Nissan 370Z Touring for example), and it works wonders at producing big bass in a small space. The other eight speakers consists of a 3.5-inch "Twiddler" mid/high-frequency speaker in the center of the dash, a 1-inch tweeter near the lower-front corner of the window in each front door, a 6.5-inch speaker low in each front door, a 5.25-inch speaker in each rear door and another 3.5-inch mid/high speaker in each D pillar.

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2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3: Ello, ello

September 10, 2010

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So I've been staring at this dashboard access panel for a while now and my curiosity finally got the better of me. It looks to be about the right size and in the prescribed location (3 feet from the driver's seat) for an OBD port. Do you know what it is?

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: How To Scroll Around, Step 1...

September 06, 2010


OK, I didn't go out of town this holiday weekend but I still tried to use the nav system in our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 to get around town from one event to another. However, it's just so terrible -- small screen, 1990s graphics, not very intuitive.

I mean, you can't even scroll around the map very easily, like if you just want to see what the next street you're coming up on is. Zooming out usually zooms out too much where you lose street names.

The one-touch functions on the steering wheel nav buttons only allow you to zoom in and out and access the compass. Why would I need to access the compass? So I read the manual to figure out how one could scroll around. Hit the jump to see this exciting multi-step process.

Step 1: Hit "Enter."

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Nav System Not the Greatest, But I Use It a Lot

September 02, 2010


The "navigation system lite" in our long-term 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 has some notable disadvantages which have been variously pointed out by Ed and our technology expert, Doug Newcomb. Small screen, limited control functionality, limited POI database, the requirement to have SD-card-based updates mailed to you -- yes, we've told you all that.

Yet, I find myself using the darn thing a lot. I don't use it to search for POIs. I'm just plugging in simple street addresses, all in the greater Los Angeles area.

The main thing I like about it is that entering an address is really quick, largely because the Mazdaspeed 3's navigation control toggler (on the right-hand steering wheel spoke) works a lot like the track ball on another beloved anachronistic device in my life -- my BlackBerry -- so I'm pretty fast with it (someday I'll make a video of that). Obviously, though, the Mazda's toggler doesn't have side-to-side capability so you have to use the rather cumbersome left/right directional buttons.

Of course, I could do all this with the Google Maps app on my BB 8900, but I like getting the audio prompts through the Mazda's speakers and I like having the map embedded and visible in the dash. Oftentimes, what I'll do is look up the POI on my BlackBerry, grab the address and then enter it in the Mazda's navigation system.

Obviously, an easily upgradeable aftermarket plug-and-play navigation system would fit the bill here and eliminate the need for either the BlackBerry or the Mazda nav system. I sure hope Denso, the manufacturer of the MS3's nav system, realizes this. If you want to get an annual update for this nav system now, you have to send off for a $199 SD card. Meanwhile, manufacturers like Garmin let you download updates for their nav units for less than half that.

Make no mistake, I like the mostly seamless intergration of factory-installed nav units, but I don't like them so much that I'd be willing to pay this kind of mark-up on my own Mazdaspeed 3.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 18,006 miles

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Is This Nav System Any Better Than a Phone?

July 30, 2010


That's the question that pops into my head every time I see the navigation screen in the Mazdaspeed 3. It's so small and distant looking the way it's buried in the dashboard. I don't have an iPhone, but even a regular ol' cellphone seems as easy to use and readable as the Mazda's setup.

Then again, the issue of in-car navigation in general is only getting more blurred as external devices improve their capabilities and reduce their cost. Wonder how long it will take for manufacturers to get rid of them altogether in favor of freeing up dashboard space?

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 14,376 miles

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: No Wires, No Hassles

July 14, 2010


Our Mazdaspeed 3 has one of my recent favorite audio features: Bluetooth Audio. I say recent because, although the technology has been around for a while via the aftermarket, it's only recently started to gain traction among the OEMs. And I'm seeing it in many more cars. Even if most people still don't know what it is or what it does -- even among those who drive our long-term cars.

So it's still somewhat of a novelty for me to jump in a car, switch to BT Audio mode and have my iPod automatically start playing tunes, with no wires to connect. And I like it even more for listening to Pandora.

At least that's the way it's supposed to work, and that's the way it works in the MS3. In some cars I've tested, like in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, I have to pair BT for hands-free phoning and BT for audio separately, even though I'm using the same device (an iPhone 3GS) for both purposes.

I've seen in some owner's manuals of vehicles I've tested that you can also skip tracks and pause and play the music using the car's controls with a compatible device, but my iPhone apparently isn't one of them. In the MS3, I can adjust the volume using the car's controls and play/pause the music, but track up/down doesn't work.

Full functionality, as with some iPod-integration solutions, would be ideal. But as Bluetooth Audio expands to more cars -- and more people know what it is and want it -- functionality will only improve. And music in the car will eventually become wireless.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Is This Cool or Lame?

June 16, 2010

The light show, not the music. But anyone who recognizes the song gets a bonus point for being over 30 (or for being mature beyond your years).

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,241 miles

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: "Can You Hear Me Now?"

April 12, 2010


Somewhere, deep within the bowels of Mazda's Engineering offices, somebody's got a twisted sense of humor. And the source of the guffaws is the MS3's Bluetooth phone interface. Make a call and when the phone hooks up, you're greeted with a blast of volume that typically registers around "40". And no, it doesn't default to what the stereo's volume was/is set to nor what the volume was at the previous phone call if enough time has passed (such as when the car is parked while at work). And yes, I checked the manual to see if it was somehow pre-set to "For those about to rock" level, but such was not the case.

Obviously, I just quickly spun down the volume knob when this happened, but it's as annoying as TV commercials that come on way louder than the show you're watching.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 9,890 miles

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Buttons, Ride Quality and Guns

February 25, 2010


After 967 miles in our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, I have reached several conclusions. The ride quality is very good for a hot hatch -- it's composed, rarely harsh and completely acceptable for long-haul trips. The 225/40R18 Dunlop SP Sport 2050 tires are on the noisy side, but really, road noise in the MS3 isn't any worse than a WRX, Lancer Ralliart or Evo.

Driver seat comfort was also better than I expected. You see, I find the seating position in the Mazdaspeed 3 slightly awkward. The steering wheel doesn't telescope quite far out enough for me to grasp it perfectly comfortably at 9-and-3. But in all those hours of driving, this wasn't a problem. Using cruise control helped, undoubtedly, but the seat itself gets some credit, too. It's well cushioned and supportive without being confining.

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: 12-volt Socket Swap

February 25, 2010


Our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 is making a trip to the Mazda Service Center tomorrow. Mazda tells us that some vehicles have a design defect that causes certain power cords (specifically those made for Verizon phones) to get stuck in the 12-volt power sockets.

A formal TSB hasn't been issued at this point but it will be soon. The fix is quick. Each 12-volt socket is swapped out for a redesigned version. That's it. Those who don't own a Verizon phone may never even need to worry.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 7,920 miles

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Scenes from CA Highway 16

February 24, 2010


Although I mostly stuck to interstates on my 28-hour road trip in our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, all cruise and no play would have made Erin a very dull car-journalist-person indeed. But I had my California Thomas guide, so I plotted out on a detour on California's Highway 16.

I picked up 16 at Interstate 5, but it doesn't start to get good until after you pass through the town of Esparto just past the 505 interchange. I already had the Mazda's navigation system programmed for my eventual destination, and it became quite alarmed when I left the interstate. It refused to recalculate the route on back roads, so I ignored it for the next 45 miles until it finally came to its senses. (Bottom line: Any nav system is better than no nav system, but this one is about 5 years behind the times, and apart from the tidy packaging, not a great buy over a portable.)

Now Highway 16 is not a highly technical road, but for a car-person already in that part of NorCal who just wants a nice series of high-speed turns, it delivers. You get to appreciate the turbocharged engine's big torque, and the road tightens up enough to justify a few heel-and-toe downshifts.

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Navigation Woes

February 16, 2010


Note the size of the Mazdaspeed 3's navigation screen (also a Multi Info Display) relative to the vast expanse of dashboard which surrounds it. This is an issue...

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2010 Mazdaspeed 3: Surprised More Cars Don't Have This Feature Yet

January 26, 2010


Not sure why putting turn signal indicators in the side mirrors didn't occur to manufacturers earlier. Oh I'm sure there are some federal regulations that mandate their location to some degree, but putting them closer to people's field of vision seems like a smart move.

They've slowly been migrating to mirrors on luxury cars as if they're some kind of fancy extra, which I guess they are to some degree. Well, extra this is, not fancy.

On our Mazdaspeed 3 they're nicely integrated so they don't look tacked on or overly obnoxious. I'm guessing we'll be seeing more of these on more cars and trucks in the coming years and that's probably a good thing.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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