2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazdaspeed3. Click image to enlarge

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Mazda Canada

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2010 Mazdaspeed3

Toronto, Ontario – First of all, if you’re looking for a sedate, budget-conscious, cross-town compact commuter, the $32,995 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is not the car for you. True, it’s a compact car, but that’s about all it has in common with other small vehicles.

As a flagship version of the popular Mazda3, the Mazdaspeed3 is tailor-made for the dedicated car nut, the enthusiast, the true believer in the philosophy of zoom-zoom (but with all the extras).

If that’s you, you’re going to like — all right, maybe “respect” is the better word — what the company’s done to your favourite Mazda.

2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazdaspeed3. Click image to enlarge

I used the word “respect,” because one thing they didn’t do is give the Mazdaspeed3 more power. What’s that, you say? You need more power? Well, Mazda disagrees.

From Mazda’s perspective, 263-horsepower at 5,500 r.p.m. and 280 lb-ft torque at a low 3,000 r.p.m. is plenty of power for a front-wheel drive compact car. That kind of output gives in-house acceleration times of 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, which makes the Mazdaspeed3 a pretty quick machine in anybody’s book.

Satisfied with the horsepower and torque, Mazda’s changes for the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 focus on more smoothly and predictably getting all that power to the pavement – and on styling, as 2010 is the year for an “all-new” Mazda3 across the range.

The engine — officially called the MZR 2.3-litre DISI Turbo — is largely the same as the outgoing models: a 2.3-litre, inline-four cylinder, direct injected and turbocharged powerplant that enthusiastically pulls the Mazdaspeed3 to a governed top speed of 250 km/h. This year it receives a new air intake in the hood, to provide more stable cooling performance, and an intake volume and boost pressure control to provide more linear torque characteristics.

2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazdaspeed3. Click image to enlarge

The gearbox, a three-shaft, six-speed manual, features revised gear ratios with taller second-through-fifth gears to better exploit the available torque. No automatic transmission is available.

Fuel consumption is rated at 11.5/8.0 L/100 km, city/highway and a single-acting nanotechnology catalytic converter (a world first, according to Mazda) reduces emissions and uses less precious metals in its construction. Coefficient of Drag, for those keeping track, is 0.32.

The key handling criticism against the first generation Mazdaspeed3 was torque-steer (this is the pulling of a car off-line under acceleration, especially prevalent in high-powered, front-drive cars).

The phenomenon was partially addressed in the outgoing model by using a torque sensing limited slip differential (LSD), and this year the stiffness of the left and right drive shafts is increased to further control torque-steer.

2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazdaspeed3. Click image to enlarge

Additional handling improvements include widening the tires from 18-inch x 7.0 inches to 18-inch x 7.5 inches, adding reinforcements and thicker sheet metal to increase the rigidity of suspension mounting points which enables the use of a firmer suspension, and using larger diameter stabilizers and dampers with increased damping strength to increase roll stiffness.

Vehicle dynamics also includes braking, and Mazda worked on this too. Brake rotor size is increased to 320 millimetres in front (ventilated) and 280 mm at the rear (solid), with tandem brake boosters and a 25-mm master cylinder. Electronic brake assist is added to the four-wheel ABS for 2010.

The Mazdaspeed3 is heavier this year, gaining 36 kilograms. This is not a huge amount, but it does take the vehicle to 1,472 kg and maintains its position as the heaviest Mazda3.

For 2010, styling is all-new, and the Mazdaspeed3 features some extra touches to distinguish it from other Mazda3 models. The new air scoop on the hood is a big giveaway; other differences to the front include bi-xenon headlamps and round fog lamps, along with a different bumper and subtle changes to the fenders.

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