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Mazda updated the street racer version of its Mazda3 model for 2010, giving it new body work influenced by its new Nagare styling language. The engine remains the same as in the previous generation.
Nagare styling is most evident in the grille, with its black curved fins. Nagare means flow in Japanese, and the Mazdaspeed3 styling is supposed to look as if it were sculpted by wind and water.
The engine is pretty advanced, even though it is a holdover from the previous generation. Direct injection makes the 2.3-liter four efficient, while a turbocharger brings its horsepower up to 263.
The Mazdaspeed3 uses the same body and chassis, with a few modifications, as the standard Mazda3. It's a five-door car, with decent room for passengers and cargo.
Mazda tuned the suspension for performance, making the ride a little rough. But in the corners the car stays flat, showing a bit of oversteer.
The hatchback gives the Mazdaspeed3 a practical edge. Buyers can take it for hard-driving weekend jaunts, then pick up groceries for the upcoming week.
The interior is very similar to the Mazda3's, although the seat material in the Mazdaspeed3 had a nice, grippy feeling, good for when heavy inertial forces are trying to pull you from the car.
A limited-slip differential on this front-wheel-drive car helps keep it under control in the turns.
A digital turbo gauge sits between speedometer and tachometer, letting you see how much boost you are getting, along with how much gas you are burning.
A six-speed manual is the only choice for the Mazdaspeed3.
Mazda was very innovative in putting a flash-drive-based navigation device into the dashboard. The screen is small, but the implementation is good.
These buttons on the steering wheel's right spoke are all you need to use the navigation system.
Mazda is a little behind on audio sources, merely offering an MP3-compatible six-disc changer, Bluetooth streaming, and satellite radio.
We found the satellite radio interface easy to navigate, but a weak antenna meant the signal cut out with very little obstruction.
A Bluetooth phone system also comes with the Mazdaspeed3. It is relatively basic, but works.