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Sunday, January 24, 2010


Since its introduction in 2004, the Mazda3 has earned a reputation for being economical, fun to drive, and well outside of the mainstream. Mazda's goal for the redesigned 2010 Mazda3 was to make a car that would bring new buyers into the fold without abandoning the factors and features that current Mazda3 owners hold so dear. Have they done it? Read on. Price range $15,715 - $25,560; EPA fuel economy estimates 21-25 MPG city, 29-33 MPG highway.

Mazda started selling cars in Mexico just three years ago, and their success has been phenomenal. In many ways, Mazda is in the same boat here in the States. Though they've been here since 1970, none of their cars except the Miata and the RX-7 ever attracted a serious following -- not until 2004, that is, when the first Mazda3 came along. The 3 was good looking, reliable, and fun to drive. It was a big hit with the press and quickly earned a following among buyers who wanted an economical, enjoyable car that was outside of the mainstream, but who couldn't afford to buy German.
Mazda's goal for the 2010 Mazda3 is to broaden the 3's appeal without losing the attributes that made the old car a hit. Styling-wise, Mazda gave the new 3 the same RX-8-inspired nose job they've applied to other models, though it doesn't work as well for the 3 as it did for the Mazda6 and CX-7: The big, pouty grille (link goes to photo) looks like a fat lip, and the strong fender arches don't match up with the rest of the car -- it looks like someone took a Mazda3 and bolted on the fenders from an old Ford Focus.

You'll find the bulk of the improvements inside. The new cabin is fantastic -- beautifully designed and built with nicer materials than the old car -- but it's the creature comforts that set the Mazda3 apart. There are five versions of the Mazda3 sedan: i Special Value, i Sport, i Touring, s Sport and s Grand Touring. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring is lavishly equipped: Heated leather seats, power driver's seat with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and headlights that turn with the steering wheel. A navigation system, Bose stereo and keyless push-button ignition are optional. But even the Special Value model isn't too shabby, with power windows and mirrors and a CD player as standard.
Models in the middle (i Touring, s Sport) include air conditioning, Bluetooth phone compatibility, alloy wheels, cruise control, power door locks and keyless entry. All versions come with six airbags and antilock brakes, and all but the i Special Value and i Sport get electronic stability control.
The 3 has a height-adjustable driver's seat and tilt-and-telescope steering column. Visibility is excellent and there's plenty of room up front. The back seat is comfortable but a bit tight compared to its rivals, and only the outer seating positions get headrests. Mazda hasn't announced trunk volume, but they say it's similar to the old car (which, at 11.5 cubic feet, wasn't very big). No matter, as Mazda also offers the 3 as a hatchback, which stows 17 cubic feet of cargo.

Audi A5 Cabriolet

The all-new 2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet replaces last year’s A4 as Audi’s four-seat convertible in residence. Even so, the convertible A5 shares many of its mechanical bits with the A4 sedan and wagon, including its 211 horsepower 2-liter turbocharged engine.
Shared styling with the A5 Coupe makes the Cabrio a real looker whether the soft top is up or down -- but is it as good to live with as it is to look at? Read on.