Hot news for 2010: Mazda3 is the latest to get the wide-grinned look; bold appearance makes it stand out in a crowd of entry-level commuters. Ÿ New base CX-7 wagon uses a non-turbo four-cylinder and dials back some of the features.
Carryover: CX-9; Mazda5; MX-5; MX-6
Gone: B-series pickup
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n Mazda recently announced that it will dive into the hybrid game and build vehicles that will be partially, or perhaps fully powered by electricity. The automaker might be getting a late start against competitors such as Honda and Toyota, but a perfect place to begin would be the compact Mazda3. For 2010, the sedan and wagon receive bolder front and rear fenders, more prominent character lines along the doors and a rear-end tweak and tuck. The carried-over platform has been made more rigid in certain critical areas, such as where the revised front and rear suspension components are attached and around the door openings.
Compared to the previous Mazda3, the new car feels significantly more capable, especially on twisty roads. A redesigned cabin is quieter and more spacious despite maintaining similar dimensions. Credit goes to the new “soft-touch” dashboard, control-panel layout and floor console that helps project a richness that the previous cars lacked.
The Mazda3 “s” models, which include s Sport and s Grand Touring sedan and wagon, have the exclusive use of a 167-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s derived from the larger Mazda6 sedan. Here, your transmission picks consist of a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox or an optional five-speed automatic.
The Mazdaspeed3 wagon is also back for 2010 sporting the previous model’s 263-horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. Drivers are treated to sportier looks, winder front fenders, hood scoop, bigger wheels and tighter seats. Base models are somewhat content starved, but they do include power windows, six airbags, tilt/telescopic steering column and a four-speaker stereo with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Of course, there are plenty more features as you head up the line, but soon you might find yourself in CX-7 wagon territory, a vehicle that actually uses part of the Mazda3’s platform.
For 2010, the larger CX9 receives a mild exterior restyle and an updated interior. Elsewhere, it appears that the RX-8 sporty car will check in for redesign at the end of the 2010 model year, while we bid farewell to the B-Series pickup truck, although Ford