2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E
2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E
2010 Mazdaspeed3 (top and bottom); 2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E (middle). Click image to enlarge

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Inside Story: 2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E

Manufacturer’s web site
Mazda Canada

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Inside Story is a review of interior comfort features, cabin controls, storage options, trunk space and under-hood accessibility based on a seven-day evaluation.

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2010 Mazdaspeed3

One of these things is not like the other; one of these things just isn’t as strong. That’s the knee-jerk reaction for most auto scribe comparisons of the 2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E, and the newly-released Mazdaspeed3 version. I’ve had had the pleasure of both pressers, both in regular rotation, and at the recent ride-and-drive-really-hard event for the Mazdaspeed3 in Vancouver. Fellow Autos contributor, Haney Louka, recently picked up the Speed3 at here in Winnipeg and the comments during the customary arm wrestle for the key fob centered around the Boy Racer factor. It’s a fine line to cross for such protein-rich vehicles as the Subaru WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. How much attitude is truly enough? To answer this question, I compared every stitch (or glitch) on the Speed, (MSRP $32,995) and the very-similar confines of the GT-E model. (MSRP $28,180) (Pricing shown does not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.) Here’s what I found, with some of the regular categories modified to accommodate. (The 2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E Inside Story is available here.)

2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazdaspeed3. Click image to enlarge
The Cockpit/Centre Stack

The most notable difference in the instrument cluster is the Speed’s turbo boost gauge, cleverly positioned between the tachometer and speedometer sweeps. Noted at the Vancouver launch was talk of the ability to have the boost gauge display removed, via a dealer-assisted software flash. There is the obvious redline difference, with the Speed adding the expected script badge on the tachometer face. The GT-E speedometer face shows a top value of 260 km/h, versus 280 on the Speed3.

Seat Treat/Trim

The Speed3 opts for a cloth/leather combo for interior skins. It’s not just about swatches; there have been bolstering improvements to the front seat cushions, plus an extended length seatback. Red stitching abounds, even on the sliding centre armrest. The GT-E packaging is a combination of leather seating surfaces, with leather-look inserts for the door panels. Those panels turn out to be the same funky seat cloth for the Speed3, a pattern that is carried through on the Speed3’s dash appliques. Monogrammed floormats join up with sport pedals. Maybe it was just the reflection off the sill plates, but I did discover underdash LED lighting in the Speed3, in the hue of blue.

The Overhead/Exterior
2010 Mazdaspeed3
2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E
2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E
2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E
2010 Mazdaspeed3 (photos one, three and four); 2010 Mazda3 Sport GT-E (photo two). Click image to enlarge

Sun-lovers will have to opt for the GT-E trim, as the Speed3 removes the cavity due to specific concerns over weight and structural integrity that could potentially impact performance. The front of the Speed3 uses specific fenders, front bumper, and the needed scoop-equipped hood for the force-feeding of air to the top-mount intercooler. (Note the GT-E differences.) The rear spoiler has experienced a growth spurt, without achieving the ability to hang laundry. Note the minimalist use of badging on the rear hatch.

The Mill

While the GT-E’s minimalist use of badging2.5-litre 167-horsepower four isn’t too busy, that quickly changes with the 263-horsepower 2.3-litre turbo in the Speed3. Both powerplants offer good access to drive belt components. Mazda does not discriminate against you for your turbo purchase, with no warranty length differences. The turbocharger and related parts are covered under the engine components warranty.

The Verdict

While you might be hard-pressed to tell them apart visually, the good news for Speed3 freaks is that the interior and exterior modifications are both effective and subtle. This is what is classically referred to as “the sleeper”, as there is very little “Boy Racer” when compared to current competitors. Even the colour swatch is set on ‘Blend-In’. Say hello to the thinking-man’s sport compact. Say hello to the sleeper.

Next week: Infiniti FX35

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