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Old 11-24-2008, 01:02 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default First Drive: 2010 Mazda3

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Los Angeles, California - In some ways, successful vehicles are more difficult to redesign than unpopular ones. Consider these facts about the Mazda3: one in three Mazda vehicles sold worldwide is a Mazda3; in North America, the Mazda3 makes up 40 per cent of the company's total sales; and in 2008, the Mazda3 remains one of Canada's top-selling vehicles even though it was introduced here over five years ago. How do you redesign a vehicle that seems to be doing just fine as it is?

2010 Mazda3. Click image to enlarge




"We didn't see a need to re-invent the wheel," said Mazda North America's Group Manager for Research and Development, Ruben Archilla, at the vehicle's introduction during the Los Angeles Auto Show. "We took an evolutionary path." And so the new Mazda3 sedan (the Mazda3 hatchback will be introduced in December at the Bologna Motor Show) is about the same size as the current one with similar cabin space and a slightly larger trunk.

The wheelbase is the same but the overall body length has increased by 85 to 90 mm (3.3 in. to 3.5 in.) depending on the model. The important changes are inside and underneath: a new 2.5-litre engine in the GT, improved automatic transmission, stronger body structure, redesigned interior and more available features. But it's the Mazda3's bold new front end that's likely to raise some eyebrows.

Styling


The Mazda3's Chief Designer, Kunihiko Kurisu, described the design concept as "remaining faithful to an inherited identity while evolving the design to make it more expressive." The grille is certainly more expressive, being much larger and moved down below the belt line. To me, the front of the car appears to have a big smile on its face, but without the teeth. Though the grille opening appears to be much larger, for aerodynamic purposes only the lower half of the grille allows air into the engine compartment.

Two smaller non-functioning "grilles" flank the centre one, and include fog lights on top models; below those are two cooling ducts for the brakes. The Mazda3's headlight covers wrap around into the bold front fenders which resemble those of the new Mazda6 and RX-8. For the first time, bi-xenon headlights are available on the Mazda3 GT.








2010 Mazda3. Click image to enlarge

The new car's profile now has a distinct wedge shape rather than a horizontal theme, while the new rear taillights lenses wrap around the body narrowing as they merge into the trunklid. The Mazda3's body-coloured rear bumpers feature black inserts with reflectors and a single tailpipe on base models and twin on top models. Overall, the Mazda3's new design is more aggressive and a little more complicated, but personally, I don't think it's very stylish.

Interior design

Ahead of the driver, the pods for the tachometer and speedometer protrude from the redesigned dash which wraps around into the centre console and into the floor console. A larger digital display on top of the dash shows radio, time and heater functions, and on top-of-the-line GT models, fuel consumption information and optional navigation. Mazda designer Jonathan Frear explained that the new 3's driver-oriented interior is aimed at younger buyers who will particularly enjoy the increased number of steering wheel control buttons.

New for 2010 are Bluetooth hands-free phone system, Bose 10-speaker sound system, dual zone climate control, push-button ignition, memory feature on the driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers and bi-xenon headlights. Six airbags are standard: front, side and curtain, plus new active front head restraints. Headroom and legroom is about the same, which is to say that the rear seat is roomy enough for two adults if the front seats aren't pushed back too far.

Powertrains

2010 Mazda3s will be available in three trim levels: GX, GS and GT (a Mazdaspeed3 model is coming later). Mazda3 GX and GS models have the same standard 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine as the previous Mazda3, but with some improvements to the air induction system to optimize performance and fuel economy. Horsepower remains the same at 148 hp @ 6,500 r.p.m. and torque at 135 lb-ft @ 4,500 r.p.m. A new five-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous four-speed automatic: Mazda claims highway fuel economy has improved by 11 per cent to 5.9 L/100 km, the same as with the manual

five-speed transmission.


2010 Mazda3 GT with 2.5-litre engine.

Click image to enlarge

Top-of-the-line Mazda3 GT sedans have a new 2.5-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine, borrowed from the Mazda6, that delivers 167 hp @ 6,000 r.p.m. and 168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 r.p.m. That compares to the GT's previous 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine with 156 hp @ 6,500 r.p.m and 150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 r.p.m.

A new six-speed manual transmission replaces last year's five-speed manual, while the optional five-speed automatic returns for 2010 with some revisions to the shift patterns to improve fuel economy.

The Mazda3's independent suspension (MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear) receives minor changes to improve roll control and agility while the braking system is carried over with some adjustments to improve brake pedal feel. The 2010 Mazda3's new body structure is stronger than before due to increased use of high tensile steel which now comprises 35 per cent of its "body in white" compared to 18 per cent in the current model.

Standard equipment





Top: 2010 Mazda3 GT (left) and GS; Mazda3 GS (middle and bottom). Click image to enlarge

Base GX models are well-equipped with 16-inch tires and steel wheels, four disc brakes with ABS, six airbags, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, AM/FM/CD with four speakers, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, variable wipers, and split folding rear seatbacks. Air conditioning and automatic transmission are optional.

Mid-level GS models add alloy wheels, silver trim on the instrument panel, keyless entry, air conditioning, Bluetooth, two tweeters, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, anti-theft alarm, heated mirrors, and rain sensing wipers. A Comfort Package option adds traction and stability control, and power moonroof.

Sporty GT models add the 2.5-litre engine, six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch tires and alloys, traction and stability control, bi-xenon headlights, fog lights, dual-tipped chrome exhaust, rear lip spoiler, sporty bumpers, front sport seats with heaters, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter, information display, six-disc CD changer, and dual zone climate control.

A Luxury Package option adds leather seats, and power driver's seat with memory feature. In addition, a GT-E package includes a Multi Information Display with navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio with a six-month subscription, Bose 10-speaker audio system, auto headlamp leveling, smart keyless entry, and push button ignition start.

Pricing for both the 2010 Mazda3 sedan and 2010 Mazda3 Sport (hatchback) will be announced at the Montreal Auto Show in January, and is expected to be similar to current pricing.

Driving impressions

My brief four-hour test drive took me from L.A. up the Pacific Coast Highway and then north through the coastal mountains on some very windy roads, returning by the freeway and coast highway. I drove a red GS with the standard 2.0-litre engine and five-speed manual transmission, and a blue GT with the new 2.5-litre engine and six-speed manual transmission.




Top: 2010 Mazda3. Click image to enlarge

Of the two, I preferred the 2.0-litre GS. To begin with, I like the simpler nose design of the GX/GS models, in particular the fluted outboard "grilles" and the chrome strip in the centre grille. The GT's small grilles and fog lights look awkward to me. But most of all, and somewhat surprisingly, I prefer the 2.0-litre engine to the new 2.5. I found the 2.0-litre to be more refined and smoother-revving while the 2.5 seemed noisier and rougher (though not noisy and rough).

Yes, the 2.0 has less torque and must be revved higher for the same performance, but it has sufficient power for typical commuting needs - and it gets better fuel economy too. Both manual transmissions have easy shifts and light clutch pedal effort, so I can't really recommend the six-speed over the five-speed manual. Unfortunately I didn't get to test the revised five-speed automatic, which is likely to be the primary choice for most buyers.

The GS has the same tight body, independent suspension, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, and responsive electro-hydraulic power steering as the GT, and I found its ride and handling to be impressive and almost as good as the GT's.

Only the GT's 50-series 17-inch tires give it an advantage over the GS' 16-inch tires. Electronic stability control is an option on the GS and standard on the GT, but not available on the base GX. The driving position is very comfortable in the GS while the GT adds higher bolsters for extra side support. Still, I thought both seat cushions were a bit thin.

The electro-hydraulic steering makes quick work of snake-like roads and the car sticks to the road with confidence-inspiring stability. Driver visibility is very good. I really enjoyed the handling and ride of the new Mazda3, and prefer it to the Corolla and Civic. In my opinion, if you want an economical, fun-to-drive Mazda3 sedan for around $20,000, get a mid-level GS with the optional Comfort Package.

The only downside is that you have to take the sunroof to get the stability control. The GT is okay if you want extra luxury features like leather and navigation, but as an everyday car, the cheaper GS is a better buy. If you want performance, wait for the Mazdaspeed3.
http://www.canadiandriver.com/testdr...010-mazda3.php
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Old 11-24-2008, 01:31 PM   #2
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finally, a design philosophy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"
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Old 11-24-2008, 01:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CanadianDriver
To me, the front of the car appears to have a big smile on its face, but without the teeth.
It definitely looks like a "happy" car.

-Mike
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Old 11-24-2008, 02:22 PM   #4
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Hideous...Hoping the MS3 variant is less vomit inducing.
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Old 11-24-2008, 02:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ghibli99 View Post
It definitely looks like a "happy" car.

-Mike
happy, with a bit of crazy
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Old 11-24-2008, 03:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ghibli99 View Post
It definitely looks like a "happy" car.

-Mike
yeah whats with the "smile"?
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:51 PM   #7
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It is a redesign like this that makes me appreciate how much I really like the style of my current car...
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Old 11-24-2008, 06:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by fogdor View Post
It is a redesign like this that makes me appreciate how much I really like the style of my current car...
The fat lady hasn't sung on this car yet. Mazda hasn't revealed what the hatch will look like. Even then, a little tweaking of the front end could make this car look downright mean.

But yeah, for right now your MS3 ftw.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:07 AM   #9
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Our love of the Mazdaspeed3 can be traced back with a very exact timeline, as it first bloomed about 30 seconds after we ignited the engine on our maiden voyage in it. Back in October of 2006 we lauded the first generation Speed3 as, “The most complete front-drive compact yet,” and were left certainly stunned at the car’s combination of price and performance. Three years and one generation on, and we’re tempted to conclude that Mazda still has the best thing going in the hot hatch game, by a long shot, though clearly not a car that is all things to all people. Which is probably a good thing.

Realistically, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is a car that is without peer in North America. The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart might be the closest to the Speed in terms of ability, but those cars have extra cost, extra weight, and extra driven wheels. Oh, and they’re both slower and less powerful. The Volkswagen GTI and Civic Si don’t have the sheer cajones to keep up with the MS3, as both are down hugely in the power and torque departments.

The only car that offers a similar power-to-dollar equation is the 285-horsepower, front-drive Dodge Caliber SRT4. Sadly, the Caliber suffers from the same haphazard fit and finish as the rest of Dodge’s cars, is far more crude in its handling, and still costs more money than the all-new Mazda. On the face of things, being able to buy a 263-horsepower car for a starting price of just over $23K is a mind-blowing value, but it’s also a deal that does come with a fair number of trade-offs.

Company engineers were quick to point out in the Speed3 technical briefing that they had intentionally left an element of torque steer unchecked in the car, as they were hoping to maintain a level road feel through the steering wheel that they consider elemental to any Mazda. To their credit, the purely electrical assist to the steering rack does allow a more communicative experience than we’d have expected, but the torque steer issue is no joke. We’re not the kind of sanitized drivers that won’t put up with a little fussing from the steering in return for a big dollop of power, but the MS3 is pretty over the top in this regard. Even when expecting the wheel to jump, there were times when we were still hard-pressed to keep both hands firmly stationed at ten and two when pulling hard out of a bend or off of the line. 280 pound-feet of torque is not nothing while running through two front wheels, and drivers of this car should expect to feel every ounce of it.

Once the wheel is under control, however, there is a lot to love about Mazda’s 2.3-liter DISI turbo engine. This is basically the same powerplant that was found in the last Speed3, with no changes to output, as the Mazda folks guessed that added power wasn’t actually what potential buyers were looking for. We agree. Instead, Mazda focused on re-spacing its gear ratios (second through fifth are all taller) and tweaking the engine management system to give more even delivery of power across the revs. That work has paid good dividends, as the 2.3 pulls strongly, even from low rpm, and never really feels out of breath at the top end. It also sounds fantastic through its sport-tuned dual exhaust—throaty, and robust, and just loud enough to stand your hair up when you’re approaching truly silly speeds.





And they do feel silly, at times. A top speed of 155 miles per hour may be impressive for a sub $25K car, but it’s the accelerative experience that’s the most memorable. With so much torque on tap, the car not only screams away from a standing start, but it has no problem tapping its reserves for a high-speed pass. Ignoring the numbers, the Speed3 actually feels as quick from the jump as something like an Evo X, which is no mean feat.

Mazda has also done a fine job sorting the suspension of its hot hatch. The car may understeer (more on that later) through a corner, but there’s very little body roll. Speed3 feels quite stiff and pointy, and was a willing and sure-footed companion on the broken, and wandering roads we traversed around Monterey. The more rigid hatch was rarely rough, however, and managed an exceptional balance between feedback and over stimulation from the chassis. This subtlety was almost on par with what we’d expect from BMW (near-masters of suspension tuning) and frankly, a little out of character with the hell-or-high-water nature of the rest of the car.

Given the high-performance of the new Speed3, it was only natural that Mazda cut us loose with the car on its home track, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. (For most of you the Laguna name is all that’s needed by way of description, but having poured any number of branding resources into the track complex, the Mazda folks are pretty adamant about the “proper” name here.) Your author, having spent countless hours of his otherwise productive life mastering the digital version of Laguna in multiple iterations of the Gran Turismo franchise, was pretty excited to have a first go at the track in its physical manifestation. It’s an experience not to be missed, let us assure you. The course is a remarkable one for new drivers, as it is really wide with great visibility in most corners (the completely blind Corkscrew at turn eight being a well-documented exception).

Because of this, one doesn’t lack for speed through the corners, as long as you can summon the courage, and have faith enough in the car to keep your right foot in ‘till the last moment. This was well illustrated by our at-speed demo lap with a member of the Skip Barber team driving, followed by our own, slightly slower, first-hand impressions.





The Speed3 was a fair performer on the legendary road course, though it’s safe to say the car is far more impressive out in public than on the track. A natural tendency towards understeer was far more pronounced on the circuit than the street, and the Mazda plowed pretty wide when asked to turn the corner at great speed. Likewise, the car’s brakes (12.6-inches in front, 11-inches out back), though plenty grabby in normal driving, got cooked rather quickly at racing speeds. We were caught out by the slightly too-long throw of the gearlever a couple of times, too. Thankfully, we aren’t expecting the average Mazdaspeed3 driver to be doing a lot of circuit work with the five-door—autocrossing is probably more this car’s speed, as it were. And, despite its dynamic failings, there’s no question that the Mazda was very capable of a quick lap at Laguna, just not racing car quick. Zoom-Zoom has its limitations.


Our time on the track did serve as a great way to crystallize our sort of muddied view of the new MS3. The fun and the flaw of the car are both down to the fact that this is essentially a very well done tuner special. In its effort to keep the price point down and the grins up, Mazda has again delivered a car that is just a little too powerful for its own good. That means that if you come to the Speed3 table with expectations of a sports car, the rowdy nature and certain bad manners are going to let you down.

But if you approach the car like a kind of Nuevo, front-drive muscle car for the Millennial-set, you’re likely to think of it as perhaps the greatest car ever made. It’s a lot more complex than we expected, riotous to drive, and utterly unique in the marketplace. So while the Speed3’s shortcomings may keep it off the list of “pure” driver’s cars, they’re not enough to keep it from being an instant heart-warmer for Winding Road. Trust us, you’ll see more of this car in our pages before the third Mazdaspeed3 shows up.
http://www.nextautos.com/driven-2010-mazdaspeed3














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Old 08-29-2009, 05:37 PM   #10
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The smile is something to get used to but I prefer the simpler grille design on the GT trim over the MS3 grille.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:14 PM   #11
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i prefer the previos mazda3/ms3 by far.
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nhat View Post
i prefer the previos mazda3/ms3 by far.
Everyone always prefers the previous models until they see the new one in front of them, then compare it with the old one and see how outdated it looks.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:11 PM   #13
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Everyone always prefers the previous models until they see the new one in front of them, then compare it with the old one and see how outdated it looks.
i've seen the new one in person. i still don't like it.

and fwiw, i prefer the 08+ sti hatch over my 04 sti.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:44 PM   #14
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Side profile looks okay but the rest is horrendous...
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:51 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by plunk10 View Post
finally, a design philosophy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

What do you mean? Mazda have been doing this for years with the miata and Porsche has been doing it for 40 yrs with the 911. I think alot of companies want to do this, the trap is becoming ford/gm where you put out the same Mustang for 15yrs (although the Ford seems to have seen the error of theit ways).
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:15 AM   #16
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If they can fix the smiley-face front, the rest of it is growing on me...
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:33 AM   #17
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Realistically, the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is a car that is without peer in North America. The Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart might be the closest to the Speed in terms of ability, but those cars have extra cost, extra weight, and extra driven wheels. Oh, and they’re both slower and less powerful. The Volkswagen GTI and Civic Si don’t have the sheer cajones to keep up with the MS3, as both are down hugely in the power and torque departments.
Wait, wat?

2009 WRX
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 12.9 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 19.7 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.3 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 13.5 sec @ 102 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 142 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 160 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

2010 Mazdaspeed 3
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 5.6 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 14.1 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph

From the 2007 C/D 'quickest cars of 2007'
Mazdaspeed 3
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 5.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 14.8 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 21.9 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.4 sec @ 99 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 167 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

From the 2009 'quickest cars of 2009'
Mazdaspeed 3
0-to-60-mph time: 5.4 sec
Quarter-mile time: 14.0 sec @ 101 mph
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Obsessive View Post
Wait, wat?

2009 WRX
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 12.9 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 19.7 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.3 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 13.5 sec @ 102 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 142 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 160 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

2010 Mazdaspeed 3
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 5.6 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 14.1 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph

From the 2007 C/D 'quickest cars of 2007'
Mazdaspeed 3
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 5.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 14.8 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 21.9 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.4 sec @ 99 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 167 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

From the 2009 'quickest cars of 2009'
Mazdaspeed 3
0-to-60-mph time: 5.4 sec
Quarter-mile time: 14.0 sec @ 101 mph
I think they are basing it on from a roll, not launching from a dig. The ms3 has the same trap speed as the wrx which means it very much chases down the wrx after the launch.
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:13 PM   #19
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Can't get over the hideous smile.,
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:47 PM   #20
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Why is that Impreza happy to see me? Oh wait, that's the new Mazda3.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:44 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by smakdown61 View Post
I think they are basing it on from a roll, not launching from a dig. The ms3 has the same trap speed as the wrx which means it very much chases down the wrx after the launch.
Which of those shows a higher trap speed than the WRX's 102?
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:41 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Obsessive View Post
Which of those shows a higher trap speed than the WRX's 102?
I didn't say higher I said the same. Considering the wrx beat the ms3 in a 0-60 time by almost a second yet has basically the same trap speed is where I'm going.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:51 PM   #23
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Location: Los Angeles CA
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2005 STi
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I saw the turbo one at the mazda dealer, its not bad but that smile on the front bumper i dont know!

Last edited by SteelTwoEleven; 10-28-2009 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 05:54 PM   #24
whoosh
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
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OT vag inspector

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Old 10-28-2009, 07:09 PM   #25
boxerinside
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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who cares how it drives, look at that hideous thing!
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