Coming in summer 2009, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is the performance version of the compact Mazda3, which was also redesigned for the 2010 model year. While the turbocharged engine is unchanged from the previous generation, the car looks dramatically different, outside and in. Historically one of the best values in performance cars, the Mazdaspeed3 competes with the Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Mini Cooper S JCW.
Though the regular Mazda3 comes as a sedan or four-door hatchback, the Mazdaspeed is only available as a hatchback. The Speed3's smiling grille is based on the regular model's grille, but it's more exaggerated here, anchored by a lower air dam and flared front fenders. The hood has a wide scoop to funnel air through the car's high-mounted intercooler. Around back are large dual tailpipes and a rear spoiler at the top of the liftgate. The 18-inch alloy wheels are unique to the 'Speed3.
The Mazdaspeed shares its overall interior design with the regular Mazda3, but it has red accent stitching on the shift boot, steering wheel and seat fabric. Other red treatments appear on the door panels and sport seat inserts. An LED turbo-boost gauge appears between the speedometer and tachometer.
Under the Hood
With its 263 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque, the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is basically the same as the previous Mazdaspeed's. Changes come in the six-speed manual, whose 2nd through 5th gears are higher, which Mazda says makes power delivery more linear.
Front-wheel drive remains the sole driveline. Both the springs and the shock absorbers are firmer than they were in the previous generation, and the steering rack is now secured in three rather than two places, which should improve feedback. Rather than switch to electric power steering, Mazda went with an electric steering pump but conventional hydraulic assist, improving on the efficiency of the previous generation's mechanical pump without sacrificing steering character.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist are standard, as is an electronic stability system with integrated traction control. Airbags include frontal, front-seat side impact and side curtains.