2010 Mazda3 Sedan Is Compact, Efficient, Affordable

July 17, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS BY CONNIE KEANE

It is one of the most popular models in Mazda’s lineup, resulting in 1 out of every 3 Mazda vehicles sold around the world. It is the compact, front-wheel-drive Mazda3.
The Mazda3 sedan is a perfectly timed all-new car for the current times. Compact, fuel efficient, affordable, fresh with desirable amenities, the 2010 Mazda3 sedan is right where the market is.
Capturing acclaimed worldwide sales with the first-generation Mazda3 in the past five years, the automaker has painstakingly worked to retain the single-most important standout attribute to the all-new 2010 Mazda3: driving dynamics.
Pure driving enjoyment, or that credo Mazda calls “Zoom-Zoom,” is the underpinning of the second-generation Mazda3. Improvements have been made to the 2010 model’s powertrain, chassis and body structure. And as a nice bonus to the compact sedan buyer, several of the new features in the 2010 Mazda3 come from its bigger, midsize sedan sibling, the Mazda6.
Starting at $15,345, the Mazda3i comes standard equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available. The 2.0L delivers 148 horsepower and 135 lb.-ft. torque. (The Partial Zero Emissions version offers 144-hp and 132 torque).
Fuel economy returns are EPA-rated at 25 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway. The Mazda3i has five price model selections topping out at $18,775.
The Mazda3s — available in four price models ranging from $19,185 to $22,445 — houses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder under the hood.

My tester was the four-door Mazda3s Sport mated to the six-speed manual transmission, and yes, there is a five-speed automatic transmission optionally available on this engine variant.
The 2.5L generates 167 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque (PZEV reduced to 165-hp/167 torque). Fuel economy on the manual comes in at 22/29 mpg; and 21/29 mpg with the automatic.
There is a slight interior alteration in the new-generation Mazda3 that I didn’t like in the test vehicle. For 2010, the driver’s seat has a new extended thigh support booster. Unfortunately, this one factor alone would steer me away from buying this car. I’m no long-legged, 5’7″ driver, and the back of my knee could not bend comfortably. This was especially noticeable in the manual tester, as I had to pull the seat closer to the pedals (for clutch depressing/releasing), but my knee could not find full functional range. Of course, this discomfort is not the case for many drivers, most of whom will end up in automatic models.
The rest of the interior is sharp looking and sporty with improved padding along the instrument panel. The Mazda3 has a small-diameter steering wheel, leather-wrapped with French-stitched seams. An elegant treatment — almost luxury-car-like — is the gradual rise of illumination when the driver enters the cabin. Mazda also has an advanced keyless entry system. It allows the driver to not only unlock/lock the doors remotely, but also to start the engine while the key is in the pocket or purse. Rain-sensing wipers are also equipped.
One of the more premium features on the new Mazda3 is the Advanced Front-lighting System. Mazda says it is the first compact car on the market to offer it. AFS is a self-leveling xenon headlight system that steers lighting up to 15 degrees into the turn of the road to expand the driver’s nighttime visibility.
Safety equipment on the Mazda3 includes six airbags, active head restraints, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and traction control. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

Next New On Wheels: 2011 Buick Regal

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 MAZDA3s SPORT
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $19,840 (as tested: $22,615)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve 4-cylinder w/EFI
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 2.5-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 167 at 6000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 168 at 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE____________________ 103.9 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 180.9 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 35.8 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 15.9 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway

Spare Parts
2010 GMC ACADIA: GMC’s popular, eight-passenger Acadia wins over customers seeking the spaciousness and capability of an SUV with a smooth ride and responsive handling of a crossover. Powered by a direct injected 3.6L V-6, it is offered in SLE and SLT trims. All-wheel drive and SLT-1 and SLT-2 equipment packages are available. A comprehensive safety system includes six standard airbags and standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology. For 2010, Acadia adds available 20-inch chrome-clad wheels. Starting price: $31,740 (Source: General Motors)
ASK THE AUTO DOCTOR: The air conditioning and heater motor failed on my three-year old Cadillac. I purchased a new motor from the dealer at a cost of $400. I live in the extreme southwest where the temperatures are very hot. Do you think the part should have failed so soon? Answer: When you live in a hot climate and the air conditioning is on often there is a lot of heat buildup under the hood. This contributes to the failure of the blower motor. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
AUTO BUY BONANZA AHEAD: With a half-year of auto sales now in the rearview mirror and the latest sales results from June a disappointment, auto-industry executives — though they’re not directly saying it just yet — are gearing up for a “Plan B” for the rest of 2010. That means pulling out the stops to get customers into the showrooms. If you’re preparing to buy a new vehicle, then the coming months are going to be more of a buyer’s market than 2010 has already been. In early July, Chrysler sweetened an already sugary pie by saying it would make the first two months’ loan payments (up to $500 per payment) for buyers of almost every vehicle in the company’s lineup. That is in addition to 0-percent financing for 60 months on almost all 2010 models. (Source: FreeWheeling, Motor Matters)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010