What's special about ...
What's special about it?
Already one of the best cars in its class, the fully redesigned 2010 Mazda 3 is looking to put a little distance on its competitors. It gets all the usual upgrades you would expect in a new compact sedan — more power, more room, new features — yet it remains a straightforward yet sporty compact sedan.
At 180.7 inches in overall length, the 2010 Mazda 3 is about 3 inches longer than its predecessor, yet it rides on the same 103.9-inch wheelbase as before. The width is unchanged, while the height is up a couple tenths of an inch.
There are only modest changes under the hood. The base model Mazda 3 i uses the same 2.0-liter inline-4 engine as before. It generates 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque and comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. The upgraded ""s"" model now gets a slightly larger 2.5-liter inline-4 rated at 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual. Both engines offer an optional five-speed automatic.
Mazda says excellent fuel-efficiency has been a key element in this car's development, so this Mazda 3 returns slightly better mileage than its predecessor. The specific numbers are 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the 2.5-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission. Add 1 mpg in the city with the automatic. The smaller 2.0-liter returns 25 mpg in the city with the manual and 24 mpg with the automatic. On the highway it's rated at 33 mpg with either transmission.
There are no major changes to the suspension — just a few minor tweaks here and there to further refine the overall feel. The front lower control arms, subframe and mount bushings have all been stiffened up to improve steering response and cornering grip. In back, recalibrated shocks and wider antiroll-bar mounts are said to reduce body roll. There's also a lighter, stiffer rear suspension crossmember that improves overall handling.
The minor tweaks continue in the cabin, where Mazda's engineers added longer seat cushions and slightly taller seatbacks for improved thigh and back support. Order the power seats and you'll get a handy three-position memory setting, too, a first in the segment, Mazda says.
Other options include dual-zone air-conditioning, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod dock and keyless ignition. Leather, heated seats and rain-sensing wipers are also on the options list.
And the most important option of all? Yes, there will be a hatchback version introduced early next year. Expect to see both the sedan and hatchback versions of the 2010 Mazda 3 on sale this spring.