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2010 Mazda MAZDA3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 was new.


Performance: 8.7

The 2010 Mazda3's performance is aggressive and fun. Auto writers praise the car's meaty engines and are thrilled with its fine-tuned suspension, steering and braking. 

  • "From behind the wheel, you won't think 'economy' anyway -- the 3 offers a comfortable driving position, its rock-solid brake pedal responds with sports-car bite, and its thin-rimmed wheel accurately transmits its driver's inputs to the front tires." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The latter is a hoot, the way small cars universally seemed to be back in the day. Quick, nimble, sufficiently powerful for most conditions, well-enough appointed to delight most small-car folks." -- USA Today
  • "The fun-to-drive factor was the old Mazda3's strong suit, and the new car follows in its footsteps." -- About.com

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers are generally pleased with the 2010 Mazda3's acceleration and power. While the 3 still has a base 2.0-liter engine that makes 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque, most reviewers tested the new 2.5-liter engine with 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. The Mazda3 also features a new standard six-speed manual transmission that earns approval, and a carryover five-speed Sport automatic transmission with manual-shift mode. 

The EPA says the Mazda3 averages up to 25/33 mpg city/highway with the 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission. 

  • "We first sampled a base model equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox. It's a refined piece with an eager engine song, silky, easy-effort clutch, and a delightfully accurate shifter." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "In place of the old car's 2.3-liter, the 2010 Mazda 3s receives the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder, first seen in the 2009 Mazda 6 sedan. Large four-pot engines tend to be rough and coarse, but not this one -- Mazda engineers did an astonishing job of quieting this long-stroke heavyweight by adding balance shafts and other refinement measures." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The smile provoking behavior of the 2-liter I doubtless was due to the fun-to-drive manual. The clutch seemed just to, and enough of the engine's modest power was available at low engine speed." -- USA Today
  • "But here's the really good news. Every combination of engine and transmission in the 2010 Mazda 3 earns the same or better city/highway fuel economy as the current car." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Very few changes were made to the new Mazda3's chassis, but experts say none were necessary. To them, the Mazda3's responsive steering, sharp braking and crisp ride quality are top-notch. 

  • "Dynamically, the Mazda 3 continues as the class benchmark, although the new 3 seems to understeer more resolutely than its predecessor, and overly aggressive throttle calibration makes smooth driving in the manual-transmission 3s a real challenge." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The 3 exhibits very little front push, but body roll is more than we expected. To that end, there is an overall softness to the tuning which will be appreciated on commutes. Still, the revised steering gear is highly precise. Overall, handling is among the most solid and enjoyable in its class." -- Motor Week
  • "With steering response and feedback rivaling the sports cars from many manufacturers, the 2010 Mazda 3 clearly retains the dynamic credentials it has inherited from the current car. There's a sense of tautness in all of the 3's responses. Every control -- steering, throttle response and brakes -- feels as if it has been tuned by someone who knows and cares about driving." -- Edmunds

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