Mosport, Ontario - The torrential rain that seemingly flushes our summer down the drain did not spare the Mosport International Raceway, near Toronto. It also affected my first contact with the all-new 2010 Mazdaspeed3, forcing me to use my entire bag of tricks and my good old racing reflexes in order to be able to push this sporty compact to the limit.
|This addition to the hood has given more muscle to the nose of the car.
As I soon found out, though, the challenge was much easier than anticipated. Despite some lingering flaws, this new generation has become a little less extreme, more flexible and way more balanced. Plus, with Mazda sticking to a front-wheel drive configuration instead of all-wheel drive, the Mazdaspeed3 doesn't have to face direct competition from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza WRX, meaning it stands alone atop its class.
For sure, it retained one of its biggest strengths; as a true member of the Mazda family, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is still among the best-handling Japanese cars on the road.
I have to admit that the bold new design of this hot hatch really won me over. While it's true that the revamped front fascia and wide-open grille that looks like a big smile do not appeal to everyone, the striking hood scoop quickly makes you forget about it (in fact, it even reminded me of a certain Ferrari 512...).
This addition to the hood has given more muscle to the nose of the car and, interestingly, its design and positioning allow a more direct air intake than the old bumper-level scoop. The turbo couldn't be happier!
In the back, the prominent taillights use light-emitting diodes (LED) to help the car stand out at night, while the subtle yet effective roof spoiler adds to the sporty character of the silhouette.
Inside, the work by Mazda designers is equally satisfying. Smokey red accents contrast with the otherwise all-black plastics and seats. Sure enough, fit and finish is commendable.
The neatly-designed dashboard also scores points. In addition to basic vehicle data, you'll find a boost indicator displaying turbo pressure -- nice to have if you're a driving enthusiast. Another thing I liked is the tachometer circle that now spans 260 degrees instead of the traditional 180. This makes reading easier while adding a bit of life to the instrument panel since the tach needle has more room to play.
|Sure enough, fit and finish is commendable.