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MILES OF SMILES

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jul 3, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

CAR LINES || LARRY MASON
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The Mazda3 has a smiling front fascia. You will too after driving one. By Larry Mason In this quick take version of Car Lines, my goal is to give you the reader a complete car review in less than 600 words. Let’s hop in and go for a ride! The all-new, redefined, re-engineered and restyled 2010 Mazda3 i Touring hits the streets as the bread and butter of Mazda’s lineup. Fully one-third of their worldwide sales belong to the 3. It’s easy to understand after you drive one. I am really impressed with the PZEV, 2.0-liter variable valve timing engine. It’s as smooth as silk from idle to redline and feels like it produces more torque than it actually has. It’s rated at 144 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 132 pound-feet of torque @ 4,500 rpm. Couple that with EPA mileage estimates of 25 city and 33 highway means that you have fun and efficiency. I averaged 32 mpg on my mostly highway trip out to the new Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, California.

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This long drive lets me test the seat comfort and I am really impressed after six plus hours behind the wheel. The cloth seats are firm and provide nice lumbar support as well as decent side bolsters to keep you in during spirited driving. The ergonomic layout is fair as I kept finding myself reaching to lower the rear window instead of the front window and moving my elbows from either side armrests because of the firmness of the armrests. This particular Mazda is equipped with the optional and fantastic Bose Centerpoint 10-speaker surround sound system coupled with Sirius satellite radio. What a blessing for long drives! In case that’s not enough entertainment for you, there’s also a six-disc CD player, Bluetooth audio and auxiliary input. Driving out in the desert I am somewhat dismayed by the lack of a temperature gauge, but I guess the only thing I have to worry about is whether or not the idiot light will come on. It didn’t, so many happy trails were had. Trunk space is ample and includes more space with the 60/40 split fold down rear seats.

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Driving this little sporty four-door is fun. Docile in the city and spry on the twisty bits, the five-speed manual shifter is a pleasant surprise for me as most vehicles on the road today have automatics. The shifter feels a bit rubbery and the clutch pedal throw is quite long and I never feel like I am able to smoothly moderate the engagement. I’m sure after a week of city driving, it will become second nature. Brake pedal modulation is also rather touchy, but again, more seat time will solve that. Body lean is minimal under normal circumstances but becomes nearly excessive when pushed to its limits. Pitch fore and aft follows the same trend. Steering feel is excellent, it’s well modulated with great on-center feel and responsiveness. Perhaps the Bridgestone Turanza 205/55R16 tires had something to do with that. An added bonus is the tight 35.8 foot turning diameter. The interior is fairly quiet until you get to a stretch of rough road. This is about the only time you’ll realize that you’re not in a luxury car from a noise standpoint. I won’t call it excessive, but if your daily drive features mostly bad pavement, you might be in trouble here.

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An impressive list of standard safety features include: dynamic stability control, active front headrests and a five star frontal crash rating. All-in-all, I find this to be quite the pleasant little car that feels nimble and responsive along with being efficient and stylish. The base price is $17,875 and this one, including the aforementioned audio options plus fog lights and moonroof, tops out at $20,775. From this driver’s perspective, I give this car a thumbs up. Zoom-Zoom! About the author: An accomplished race car driver, Larry Mason is a five-time champion in three different series who has set multiple track records along the way.

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The Mazda3 can also be had with a 5-speed automatic transmission © Words by Larry Mason More for information about Mazda products, go to mazdausa.com

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Simple gauge layout enhances the driver’s cockpit SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Mazda3 i Touring 4-Door Sedan Price: $15,345 (base) $17,925 (i Touring model) EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 25 city/33 highway Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC 16-valve in-line four Horsepower: 148 @ 6500 rpm Torque: 135 pound-feet at 4500 rpm Transmission: Five-speed manual Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Electro-hydraulic power assisted steering Suspension: Front: Independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear: Independent multilink coil springs and stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 17” alloy wheels P205/50R17 all-season tires Brakes: Front: Vented Rotor Rear: Solid Rotor ABS; Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD); brake assist Dimensions Length: 180.7 inches Width: 69.1 inches Height: 57.9 Curb weight: 2868 pounds

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