By KBB.com Editors
Mazda's best-selling model, the MAZDA3, receives a major makeover for 2010, starting with the high-volume four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. Based on an enhanced version of the previous platform, the entire 2010 MAZDA3 family maintains its same wheelbase and track dimensions but boasts a stronger unit body, revised chassis setup, all-new exterior and interior designs and an even nicer selection of standard and optional equipment. Trim designations carry forward, with the sedan available in 2.0-liter "i" models in SV, Sport and Touring configurations, and the 2.5-liter "s" in Sport and Grand Touring versions. The wagon is available only in the latter two "s" models. This comprehensive revitalization program has made a solid package even stronger and should ensure the 2010 MAZDA3 remains a strong rival to the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and Matrix and Volkswagen Jetta and Rabbit.
Fans of the previous MAZDA3, who want something that offers a new level of style and sophistication with better overall performance and handling, plus improved fuel economy, should be well pleased with the 2010 version.
If Mazda's new 21st-century take on the Happy Face front end seems a bit too much – or if you really need something with more rear seating space – the 2010 MAZDA3 might not be the right choice.
The MAZDA3 gets a complete reskin and interior redesign, multiple chassis tweaks and significant upgrades to the engines and transmissions.
Driving Impressions An enhanced level of zoom-zoominess is clearly evident from the very first mile in any 2010 MAZDA3 model. The reinforced unit body and retuned suspension increase agility and handling precision...while maintaining good overall ride compliance whether you're just touring or tossing it about with real intent on your favorite back road. Even the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter engine has sufficient muscle to handle either the manual or automatic transmission, although those folks with more dedicated enthusiast leanings should seriously consider stepping up to the 167-horsepower 2.5-liter engine that's even more at home with either transmission. We found the driver-selectable stability and traction controls permitted a fair amount of fun before intervening as programmed, and the anti-lock brakes have a linear feel. While the cabin dimensions may be virtually identical to the 2009 in both sedan and hatch configurations, there's definitely a greater level of sophistication to the 2010 package and notably better isolation from both noise and vibration.
Adaptive Front Headlamps
The first-ever application on a compact vehicle, these blue-white bi-xenon high and low beam headlights are standard on MAZDA3 Grand Touring models. Their inner beams can swivel by 15 degrees to look deeper into corners and they feature self-leveling to prevent dazzle.
Super-Efficient Catalytic Converter
All MAZDA3s are fitted with a new catalytic converter featuring a Mazda-patented single-nano-particle substrate element that requires 70-percent less precious metal than used in the component it replaces to do an even more effective job of cleaning up the exhaust gases.
The 2010 MAZDA3's all-new look raises the image index with a host of nice touches that you'd expect to find in more expensive vehicles. There's a single-piece soft-touch dashpad over easy-to-read analog gauges and easy-to-reach main controls and switchgear, while aluminum trim accents add a touch of understated flash. The Multi-Information Display – with or without optional navigation – is controlled by steering-wheel switches on all "s" models. Redesigned bucket seats offer more comfort and support up front and all MAZDA3s get a 60/40 split-folding rear bench that will accommodate two average-sized adults or drop flat to add even more utility to the basic 11.8 cubic-feet trunk or 17.0 cubic-feet cargo bay.Exterior
To create a unique look for its best-selling model, Mazda gave the MAZDA3 various "motion and flow" styling elements from the Nagare concept car, as well as more established cues, such as RX-8-flavored fender sculpting. The oversize grille element is, according to Mazda, "purposefully polarizing" to more effectively set the MAZDA3 apart from its competitors – as well as from the MAZDA6. A rising beltline gives both the sedan and wagon more aggressive stances while high-profile front and rear lighting treatments impart a premium finish to the package. All "i" models of the MAZDA3s come with 205/55HR16 all-season tires on steel or aluminum wheels, while the "s" models have V-rated 205/50 tires on 17-inch alloy rims.
Even the base MAZDA3 "i" SV sedan has impressive standard equipment, including anti-lock disc brakes, front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, a tilt-telescoping steering column, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, power windows and mirrors and variable intermittent wipers. With the "i" Touring level, that list adds stability and traction controls, cruise control, alloy wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless remote and Bluetooth connectivity. While the "s" level has the more potent 2.5-liter engine in place of the 2.0-liter powerplant of the "i" model, and gets a Multi-Information Display, trip computer, sport seats and enhanced trim items, only the Grand Touring versions feature dual-zone automatic climate control, bi-xenon Adaptive Front headlights and heated leather seats with eight-way power on the driver's side.
All but the MAZDA3 "i" SV model offer a five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode in place of the standard manual gearbox, and the availability of special Crystal White Pearl paint. An aptly named Moonroof and Bose Package, that includes a 10-speaker Centerpoint Surround Sound system, can be fitted to all Touring-and-above MAZDA3s, but the Tech Package (navigation system with 4.1-inch color screen, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, advanced keyless entry, pushbutton start and perimeter alarm) is limited to "s" models – but also requires the Moonroof and Bose combo. A six-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3 capability is optionally available, while SIRIUS is offered as a dealer-installed accessory.
Two engines and three transmissions are part of the revitalized MAZDA3 lineup for 2010. The "i" models (SV, Sport and Touring) retain the same 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used previously, but it can now be teamed with the carryover five-speed manual transmission or a new five-speed automatic that replaces the optional four-speed unit used last year (the SV remains manual-only). The automatic route increases city and highway EPA numbers by one and three mpg, respectively. The latest "s" models (Sport and Grand Touring) replace their 2009 156-horsepower 2.3-liter engine with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter powerplant that's also used in the MAZDA6. Beyond having more power than its predecessor, this tech-rich design is smoother, quieter and develops 15 percent more torque for quicker acceleration, whether it's paired with the standard six-speed manual or the optional five-speed automatic with its manual-shift capability.
2.0-liter in-line 4
148/144 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6500 rpm
135/132 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV) @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 (manual), 24/33 (5-speed automatic)
2.5-liter in-line 4
167/165 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6000 rpm
168/167 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV)) @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (5-sp manual), 22/29 (6-speed automatic)
By sadak on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "power, handling, reliability, value"
Cons: "shifting, rear motor mount"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I cannot be happier with my Speed. Only necessary modification is a improved rear motor mount. I track the car in High Performance Driving Classes and regularly pass cars costing 3 times as much."
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Kim on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, stereo system is amazing-so many options"
Cons: "Weight (very light)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I LOVE my Mazda! My only complaint is how light it is; when the wind blows, my car drifts. Other than that, it drives well, handles great, it is roomy front and back of the car, and is great on gas!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By mctabbykat on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value for the money; 6-speed is fun to drive"
Cons: "Fit & finish and missing a few basic features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'm pretty happy with my 2011 Mazda3 hatchback. It's been 100% reliable so far. Only minor issues with fit & finish and some features that would have been nice to have. Re: fit & finish - rattling in passenger-side door, sounds like a BB rolling around in the door itself; console makes clicking noises, like hot plastic cooling off; all seats are a bit squeaky. Features - no indicator to know if fog lights are on; no indicator to know if engine is running hot (I guess you have to wait for it to start smoking!). I added a remote car starter (kind of a pain in a manual but worth it in the winter). I think I'd like to graduate to a MazdaSpeed for my next car :-)"
9 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Zoom-zoom Rocket on Monday, December 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "SUPER fun to drive, GT is well equip & priced well"
Cons: "Not a lot of leg room in the rear"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I recently traded in a 2003 Toyota Sequoia for my 2012 Mazda 3 GT Hatchback. If you're considering this vehicle I highly recommend it. I was considering another Toyota but the value of features included in the Grand Touring model blows ALL competition out of the water. My Mazda 3 is fully loaded with the 2.5 liter engine, trading down from a full sized SUV, the features definitely make it feel worth it. Not to mention the Mazda 3 has cut my monthly gas expense by well over half and honestly this car feels much more zippy than my V-8 did. If you're on the fence make the leap. This car is super fun to drive and extremely well equip."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By feefingirl on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "decent lease price, great mileage, reliable"
Cons: "technology features "glitchy", dont lease - buy!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I'm not an "image" buyer so practically speaking, this car operates and handles perfectly. Had minor accident- all damaged panels replaced so its pristine. Mileage is outstanding, averages 37 hwy. Blue tooth/device technology is "glitchy". Too low to ground and bottom gets scraped a lot."
9 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By ladydriver on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: cut personal expenses
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The positives on this car are numerous. First off the drive-ability and performance were excellent. A nice suspension made for great control on the road. We tended to get around 32 MPG. It was great for long road trips with a nice comfy interior, we could play music or audio books through pandora with the bluetooth, make and recieve phone calls while maintaining focus on the road, and turn on the cruise control for those long stretches of empty highway. There was plenty of space in the trunk, so we could always fit our christmas tree in the back if we put the seats down. We never had any major mechanical issues over the 4 years we owned it, and we never even had to do the brakes. The one and only complaint that we had was that visibility was not great, there are blind spots that can make it tricky to merge or back up without turning around in your seat. But that is merely a side effect of the sporty styling of the body."
12 people out of 18 found this review helpful