2010 Mazdaspeed3: Up Close


Seeing a car like the Mazdaspeed3 up close doesn’t really give a feel for what it’s all about. It’s about the turbocharged power and sport-tuned handling and braking, but until we get to drive it all I can really comment on is how it looks in person. Standing in its presence, it doesn’t look as bad as it did in press photos. It looks worse.

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Now, I didn’t like the 2010 redesign of the regular Mazda3, which has the most clownish of Mazda’s new smiley grilles. The Mazdaspeed version takes the smile and adds lips, which serve no aesthetic purpose except to distract from the not-too-subtle hood scoop, which doesn’t recall any part of a clown’s face, except possibly a toupee.

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Around back, the centermost section of the taillights have the clear-lens-over-silver look that I personally have never liked, but which nevertheless became a trend across the automotive market. I thought that trend had finally ended. It wasn’t until I got inside that I realized Mazda is going back in time. The past Mazda3 had nice-looking piano-black finish inside while the rest of the industry tried to use plastic to imitate metal — and failed. Now the same model, in regular and Speed versions, has resorted to the same phony-looking stuff.

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Tastes vary, and some of the designs that turn people off the most turn others on the most. This usually results in above-average sales. But I don’t know; it’s as a Mazda fan and owner that I say I think this one’s a big, bad mistake. The new Mazdas are all smiling, but I wonder about the customers.

Photo of Joe Wiesenfelder
Former Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a launch veteran, led the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe Wiesenfelder

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