2010 Mazda3 Sport GT

Getting into the Mazda3 GT Sport should have felt like a comedown after a week of playing with the far cuter Mazda MX5. But it’s a LOT of fun.

Full of surprises
You get a lot of details for the price. Dual zone climate means she can melt while you freeze. A trunk button so sensitive you’d think it was responding to the heat in your fingers. An auxiliary input jack means I get Radio Steve 24/7. Rain-sensing wipers suggest a creepy omniscience. And I loved the fog lights after the rain, up north.

But most surprising was the tightness of the ride.

There was a monstrous gale in town two nights ago and the streets’ many potholes were now ponds. I turned off the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), an option that would be dangerous but loads of fun in winter, then gunned it on a right turn to a nook in traffic and slid sideways into my lane a la Jack Bauer. Cool.

DSC back on, turns are pretty easy. Mazda3 Sport really likes the corners — not as much as the MX5 but their engineers have done their homework. 17-inch tires maximize the gription and the front and rear suspensions increase the sportiness.

Peppy enough for passing
The optional 2.5-litre 4-banger achieves 167 hp@6,000 rpm but still throws you forward when you need it. It weighs just 1381kg, so there’s power enough to achieve lift-off.

A smaller engine like that loves the highways and goes easy on the gas: 8.7L/100km City; 6.0L/100km highway. I drove halfway across the province and back but still had over a quarter left in a 60-litre tank.

Sport automatic or standard?
I would advise standard transmission but didn’t mind the 5-speed sport mode on this automatic. Tapping is never as satisfying as shifting but you do get an excellent sense of presence when you slip into sport mode from automatic. It suddenly feels more tactile like you’re a part of the road. Sorry if that sounds fluffy but, again, I was surprised.

Anything missing?
This ride didn’t come with leather seats and corn chips crumbs accidentally coloured what Mazda’s website bizarrely calls the “sport type cloth seats” on the passenger side. Hopefully that doesn’t mean sweaty. A power moonroof is available too and that would have made the experience even better.

But maybe I was simply missing the convertible experience, having just surrendered the MX5.

Base Price for GT: $23,995
As Driven: $25,195

This is a test