The volume seller
Mazda's compact 3 is currently the bestselling car so far this year. With good clearance deals on remaining 2009s, Canadian car buyers feel that although a brand-new model was about to hit showrooms, the old Mazda3 was still a good car.
Will the happy-face 2010 model be able to maintain that hot streak? It should, as long as interest rates remain reasonable. Yet the new car isn't a wild departure from the outgoing one, as Mazda didn't mess with success.
Smile and wave
The overall shape of the Mazda3 is still the same, so you'll still recognize it in the compact-car category. Wheelbase is unchanged, while the car's dimensions have grown by only a few millimetres.
The big difference is the curvy front end--the sculpted fenders are a Mazda styling trademark, while the large grille opening makes the 3 look like it's grinning. The car's cartoonish smile will also turn up on the CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers for 2010. Well, you either love or hate the new look, but at least it distinguishes itself, and turns a fair amount of heads.
Unfortunately, though, there are still no trunk handles inside or out, so you'll get your hand dirty during the winter months when you open and close it. And as before, the trunk opening isn't very big because of the short deck.
Again, the interior design isn't a clear departure from the old 3, but it does look more modern and hosts the latest techno equipment, including Bluetooth connectivity and, a GT exclusivity, an optional navigation system.
As before, controls are straightforward and offer a solid feel, although our first reflex when reaching to adjust the radio volume is to turn the big center tuning dial--not a big deal, since there are also wheel-mounted buttons. Dash plastics are of acceptable quality, maybe not up to Honda standards, but nothing to gripe about.
Front-seat accommodations are top-notch for a compact sedan, but in back, getting in and especially climbing out is more complicated, since the doors don't open very wide and the footwells are a far reach. Seat fabric is of the sturdy type but the velour coverings in the Civic feel a little more upscale.
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