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2010 Mazda3, LA Auto Show
More zoom-zoom in the retooled Mazda3

Mazda3 Starts Second Generation: Company spiffs up its best seller for LA Auto Show

Better handling, more power, better fuel economy

By Sam Moses
The all-new Mazda3, which begins the second generation of the model in its sixth year, will go on sale this spring. The Mazda3 is by far Mazdaís best-selling car around the world, with stacks of international awards to its credit. Itís a winning little brother hot on the heels of the new Mazda6 that we recently reviewed.

The four-door sedan made its debut at the LA Auto Show to a background of stirring music that struck you with an urge to run out and buy a Mazda3 because if you donít there must be something wrong with your sense of zoom-zoom. The Oscar for presentation soundtrack goes to Mazda. We hope the music finds the epic film it deserves.

The snappy new styling takes its cues from the Mazda6; most striking are the extruded fender flares and a grille that wonít stop grinning. One fellow said it reminded him of Heath Ledger in Batman. Why is this car smiling? Maybe because nearly two million have been sold in five years.

The chassis has not been redesigned, Mazda having decided that it ainít broke so donít fix it. However the suspension has been improved for better ride and handling, and a new engine has been introduced.

The standard engine in the Mazda3 is the trusty 2.0-liter making 148 horsepower, now using a five-speed gearbox replacing the four-speed. The new engine for the Mazda3 is the 2.5-liter four that we found so smooth in the Mazda6. It makes 167 horsepower mated to a 6-speed gearbox or optional 5-speed automatic transmission.

With more power comes improved fuel mileage. The 2.0-liter gets a combined rating of 29 miles per gallon, and the 2.5-liter gets 27. Price has not been announced yet, but in these times we know it will be as low as Mazda can afford to make it. Watch for our First Drive as soon as the launch happens.

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