The 2010 Mazda line of cars has shown the company to be continuing on their mission to provide everything from an affordable commuter to a hot sports cars to the luxury of a large four door sedan with a bit of zoom. Or perhaps best in the company motto: Zoom-zoom. The 2010 Mazda3 saw a make over that gave it a large “smiley” grille in the front (one you either love or hate in my experience) and generally some more body definition around the entire car. Recently, I had the chance to drive the 2010 Mazda3 i Touring Sedan with the manual transmission and it was actually a surprisingly fun to drive car. Okay, so I did have to get the Corvette Grand Sport out of my head that I had just drove, but it offered a interesting comparison of upper end sports car and affordable commuter sedan.
The 2010 Mazda3 I Touring Sedan is basically the middle of the road in the four-door line coming in at a base MSRP of $17,925 for the manual and $18,775 for the automatic. The first recommendation out of the gate is to get the manual, Mazda has a nice throw and light clutch that makes commuting easy and shifting enjoyable when you do decide to have some fun. The i Touring model varies from its more expensive brother by having the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine instead of the higher output 2.5-liter now offered in the Mazda3 family. The difference will save you about three grand and some dollars at the pump, but will cost you about 20 horsepower under the hood. That said, out on the track as part of the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience (RMDE) the 2.0-liter pulls strong through the revs and while it is no pocket rocket, it still provided well over 90 mph down the back straightaway (more than enough punch for highway cruising and merging) and exhibited good cornering on the factory tires. In fact, in comparison, the base Mazda3 is faster than the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
Even out on the road the 2010 Mazda3 i Touring is a pleasant ride and competes well with class rivals like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Ford Focus. Unfortunately, none of those cars made it to this two dozen or more car press event, but from experience the Mazda is holding up very well and with a bit more zoom. For those looking for more performance, the 2.5-liter in the Grand Touring is going to be more suitable and for the real performance enthusiast check out the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 (more here).
Bottom line—For the average commuter the 2010 Mazda3 i Touring will bring everything to the driving experience you need including the crisp steering and red sporty gauges everyone has come to love Mazda for. The thing you won’t get from the i Touring is an empty wallet at the gas pump with its 33 mpg on the highway. Oh yes, and you probably won’t be able to help but smile every time you see the grille beaming back at you.
For more information on RMDE put on by the Rocky Mountain Auto Press, click here.