2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong turbocharged performance, sophisticated ride and handling, upscale interior, hatchback utility, lengthy features list, reasonable price.
  • Unavoidable torque steer, no sedan option.
Other years
2010
Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 for Sale
2010
List Price Estimate
$5,341 - $8,505

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The old Mazdaspeed 3 was already our top choice for a budget performance car; the redesigned 2010 model is even better.

Vehicle overview

Since being introduced in 2007, the Mazdaspeed 3 has thumped all who have dared to take it on. Its combination of power, handling, practicality and value has proved to be unbeatable in the various Edmunds comparison tests it's participated in over the years. For 2010, the champ has reloaded in the off-season. Like the late '90s Yankees, the redesigned 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 maintains the bits that made it a champion while bolstering the rest of its roster.

Like the redesigned Mazda 3 upon which it's based, the 2010 "MS3" has softer styling than its predecessor, including a happy (some would say goofy) new face. The Speed version differentiates itself with a nicely integrated hood scoop for its turbocharged four-cylinder's intercooler and a few other subtle body modifications. The 3's interior is also new, and it features improved materials and a more visually interesting design. As before, standard equipment is generous, and luxury features like keyless ignition/entry and a Bose surround-sound stereo are available.

The previous MS3 was already our favorite high-performance hatchback, but Mazda's engineers felt that its suspension was in need of an overhaul, as it had a tendency to get unsettled over bumps and around pockmarked corners. The result of their efforts is impressive: Not only does the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 ride noticeably better than its predecessor, it also slithers through our slalom cones a whopping 4.6 mph faster.

Under the hood, however, it's more of the same, with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that cranks out 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque -- unchanged from the last MS3. There are a few minor tweaks, though, including a new electric power steering pump, a reworking of the manual-transmission gear ratios and new controls in place to mitigate the car's still prodigious torque steer.

Overall, these changes add up to a more refined and capable car than the previous model. Though the Mazdaspeed 3 is a performance hatchback intended to compete with other such vehicles, it's good enough to take on rear-drive sport coupes as well, earning our nod over a Hyundai Genesis Coupe in a recent comparison test. Only time (and a full comparison test) will tell whether the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 can maintain its champ status against the Chevy Cobalt SS, Mini Cooper S, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, Subaru WRX, VW GTI and whatever other contenders may come its way. But we're guessing it's safe for Mazda to make room in its trophy case.

2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 models

The 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 is a four-door hatchback available in one trim level known as Sport. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, high-performance summer tires, a limited-slip differential, foglights, full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, front sport seats, leather and cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a digital turbo boost gauge, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker stereo with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering wheel controls.

The Mazdaspeed Tech package adds keyless ignition/entry, an integrated compact navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo with satellite radio and a six-CD changer.

2010 Highlights

The 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 has been completely redesigned. In addition to gaining the same changes as the regular 2010 Mazda 3, the new Mazdaspeed version benefits from suspension changes that improve its handling abilities over the previous-generation car.

Performance & mpg

The Mazdaspeed 3 is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. All that thrust is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission equipped with a limited-slip differential. In performance testing, the Speed 3 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds -- midpack for its class and a bit slower than the old car. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 itself hasn't been crash tested, but the government awarded the regular Mazda 3 five out of five stars for driver and front passenger protection in a frontal crash, five stars for front side protection and four stars for rear side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2010 Mazda 3 its highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side crash tests, and the title of Top Safety Pick.

Driving

Routing 280 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels is usually a recipe for annoying amounts of steering-wheel-tugging torque steer. This phenomenon is certainly present in the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, but a revision of the engine's torque-limiting software help keep torque steer under better control than last year. In any case, there's no doubt that the MS3 is one of the best-handling and most entertaining hot hatches on a winding road.

Another nice change is that pavement imperfections that would have flummoxed the old car are now handled with grace by the retuned suspension. Pin-sharp as ever, the steering provides plenty of communication and faithfully transmits road information like few front-wheel-drive cars can. Throw in a feisty 263 hp and you've got one fun little hatchback.

Read our Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Interior

The Mazdaspeed variant differs from the regular 3 with its upgraded gauges and standard black leather upholstery with red pattern cloth inserts. Otherwise, it boasts the same class-leading interior design, quality and feature content as the regular 3. Despite its relatively low price and single trim level, the MS3 greets its owner with high-quality materials, comfortable sport seats, ample space and easy-to-reach controls. The optional navigation system is saddled with a small screen, but it's mounted high, easy to use and cheaper than other systems.

The front seat offers a wide range of adjustment (though no power adjustment is available) and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is a welcome feature. Some may lament that no sedan body style is available, but the standard hatch allows for a greater level of practicality. The trunk provides 17 cubic feet of space with the seats raised and expands to 42.8 with them lowered.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

A fun jack of all trades
maikell77,01/15/2013
I have owned my speed3 for almost 2 years now. In that time I have put 54,000 miles on it. I can say that it's a fun car, It has a good amount of cargo space, and it roadtrips well. The fuel economy isn't bad, but the read out is a bit optimistic. I use the car for family roadtrips (500mi one way my wife and I), work (multiple 500 mi days per week), and even the ocasional track day. Currently at 77k and really nothing unexpected as far as maintence goes. Spirited public roads driving the speed3 is as much fun as the GTO and 540i M-sport I have owned previously. It does have understeer at the limit, and that does sap a bit of track day fun.
Don't Hesitate, it has everything you want.
primetime8032,09/10/2012
To start off, I've only owned this car for 4 days now. I was a very proud rx8 owner and loved every bit of it, except for the gas mileage. This car, has everything that you want. Perfect handling, the right amount of power, it's very practical and to be honest, economical. I know people will be like "economical? it only gets 18mpg!" Yeah, when you're flooring it everywhere. When I drove home from the dealership I was about 50 miles away from home. I drove it like a grandma and averaged 34mpg. So if you really want to economical, this car can definitely do it. I can't talk on the reliability as I just got the car, but I still rated it a 5 because I love everything about this car.
It Just Grows on Ya!
Will L.,07/26/2010
I have owned only Taurus SHO's for the past 17 years - all manuals. My last one just turned 190k as I went researching for a honorable replacement. It surely wouldn't be the new SHO as it was released w/o a stick and way too much $$$. As I went to different review and "best of" sites the MS3 was always ending up in the top two spots. Anyway ended up test driving the WRX (not as refined inside + more $) and the GTI (more $ and slower than the MS3). Since I have owned it (the MS3) I have to admit it just gets better every time I drive it - even with that goofy smile in the front. I did have to get used to a turbocharged car as far as shift points and turbo lag but all are quite manageable.
Love me Love me not
garv214,03/29/2011
I have had my Mazdaspeed 3 for 3 months and 3700 miles now and have noticed things I love and things that need improvement. The car handles very well, but may be a bit harsh for some. The interior is very nicely laid out (love the blue accent lighting). The exterior styling can take a bit getting used to. I bought mine in Black, so the "happy face" is not noticeable at all. I drive very conservatively so I have been averaging around 23-24 mpg with a 60-40 mix of city and highway driving. Overall a nice car and a great value, but Mazda needs to work on the clutch on these cars. My clutch is taking away from the fun of driving it, which is a big reason why people buy these cars.

Features & Specs

MPG
18 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
263 hp @ 5500 rpm
See all Used 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 features & specs
More about the 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
More About This Model

We've all seen him or her — that friend, fellow student or colleague who walks around with a "perma-grin," looking like they're having just a little too much fun during the daily grind. Were any of them to be reincarnated as a car, we imagine it would be as a 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, a fun-loving sport compact that's such a blast to drive that the company is doubly proud to proclaim its name. Yeah, the car might have a face like a circus clown, but when it comes to giving budget-minded enthusiasts the most entertainment this side of a Ringling Brothers show, the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 is as serious as a lion tamer.

Competing in the sport compact class, a segment that boasts such luminaries as the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, Subaru Impreza WRX and Volkswagen GTI, the Mazdaspeed 3 still has good reason to look so upbeat. All the ingredients for fun on four wheels are present -- spirited acceleration, confident braking and brother-of-Miata steering and handling.

There's also a cockpit fitted with the right tools for the job, namely a meaty steering wheel, well-placed pedals and body-hugging sport seats. The 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 earns bonus points for its high-quality interior trimmings as well as for unexpected standard luxury features like dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth. Its considerably lower price compared to the aforementioned rivals only sweetens the deal.

Even the most happy-go-lucky people have their faults, and the Mazdaspeed 3 is no exception. There's noticeable torque steer when you're powering out of tight turns, and the overdone styling seems a step down from the cleaner previous-generation car. But overall, the good easily outweighs the bad. After a week of living it up with the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, we were wearing silly grins ourselves.

Used 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Overview

The Used 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is offered in the following submodels: Mazdaspeed 3 Hatchback. Available styles include Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

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Which used 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3s are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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