Well, I had the chance to check out the new 2010 Mazdaspeed3 at Walser Mazda on Saturday. Tom actually met me there to check it out, so I'm sure he'll chime in with his own comments. Apparently Walser has taken a "hands-off" approach to sales, or they just didn't like me much. I was on the lot looking over all the 2010 MS3s parked there for about 30-45 minutes before a salsman even talked to me, despite having been walked past probably a dozen times. (It wasn't busy there were salesmen standing around chatting) Anyways... After probably 15 mins or so, a lot guy parked a silver MS3 right in front of us, and he let us check out the interior, so that was nice (stll no salesmen). The interior is pretty nice, there are some nice design changes, and some not-so-nice ones. The cloth on the seats and the dash trim both are primarily black, but have some weird red pattern on them. It doesn't look good. The seats are well bolstered though, even in the back, which nice. One thing I noticed was that the leather on the seating surface seemed to be different from that on the back of the seats, and the center console. (Yeah, the center console is leather now, sweet). The seat surface leather was less plush than that of the console or the back of the seat; presumably to increase durability on the seats, since they'll take a lot more abuse. The center console armrest also slides forward, which is nice, but it eliminated the two layer system the 1st Gen MS3, and Mz3s had. The rest of the interior is pretty nice though. Doesn't really seem cheap or anything like that, I could live with it. After the lot guy left, Tom and I wandered around the showroom a bit, then went back outside to stand around and chat more. We discussed the exterior styling quite a bit. The rear wing is two layer, which is kinda interesting, but it's HUGE. Even bigger than the 1st gen MS3. It follows the line of the roof pretty well, so you don't notice as much, but it sticks out the back far, and upon staring at it, it looks funny. Another thing we noticed is that there are A LOT of subtle lines on the car. Just minor creases on the mirrors, bumpers, side skirts, quarter panels, really make for an interesting look. I was digging it. Then, of course, there's the smile. I don't hate it as much as I did from just looking at the pictures. The hood scoop doesn't stand out quite as much either, which is also night. As for colors, there are four options. Liquid Silver Metallic, Velocity Red, Black Mica, and Celestial Blue. I like them all. Black is black, not really exciting to me, but hey. Liquid Silver Metallic is an awesome color IMO. It's nothing like Sunlight Silver. Sunlight Silver is silver, nothing fancy. Liquid Metallic very much describes the new silver. It's got a lot of flake (not bass boat, but enough to look good), and it appears very deep. Darker looking directly at it, but lighter at different angles. I was digging it. Velocity Red is an old Mazda color, and they brought it back. It's certainly better than True Red, I'm not sure how I like the flake in that paint though, it does almost look like a bass boat. Last, but not least, is Celestial Blue. It's a seriously unique color. Very bright, but it's not really complex. It's just a different, brighter shade of blue. EVENTUALLY a salesman talked to us and we expressed interest in checking out the 2010 MS3, for comparison purposes, since we both have the 1st gen. We told him straight away that we weren't looking to buy, but we were both enthusiasts just interested in the car. He went inside to find someone to help us. After a few more minutes went by, an internet sales guy, Nate, came out. He asked what we were interested in, and we expressed interest in driving the 2010 MS3. He went on for a bit about how the MS3 is a limited production car (supposedly moreso than the 1st gen) and management didn't want to give test drives to just anyone. He chatted with us about it though, and after realizing we weren't just some punks looking to beat up their car, he went and asked the manager if we could take it for a spin. He came back a few minutes later asking for DLs. So, we got to drive, woot. TEST DRIVE Wow is this car different. Partly good, but partly bad. (more bad than good imo, but that's just my style) It's definitely more refined than the first gen. The suspension feels softer, the clutch is SUPER soft (wtf) and it feels more like a v6 than a Turbo4. The suspension is sorta nice I guess, you don't feel all the little bumps in the road, but it didn't seem to communicate quite as well. It also seems like the reduced torque steer, a lot. Enough that I didn't even experience it at all. The salesman said they actually opened the car up more in turning, but wouldn't that make for more torque steer? The clutch, holy crap. It's like a hot knife through butter, it just falls to the floor with no effort. The engagement seemed pretty similar, short, easy to find, but the pedal was WAY light. (for the guy looking to learn manual on a 2010, it should be really easy). I think I'd have to spend more time with it, but it felt pretty familiar, I suppose since the engagement felt the same. The engine... WTF BBQ. It goes fairly well, but you'd never know there's an angry snail under the hood. Either there's no boost lag at all, or there's no boost. It's weird. The acceleration is super linear. That's probably good for most drivers, but Tom and I agreed, we like to feel our boosties. It didn't feel quite as fast to me, which is probably because of the above, but I dunno. I mashed the gas heading out to a carpool lane on an on-ramp and got the tires to whine a little bit, but it handled it fine. Let off the gas a tiny bit and it's right back under control. I did a 6th gear 60-xx pull and it didn't feel like there was anything there. That was a big let down. In the 1st gen, you can step on it in 6th and still get pretty good acceleration. I'm not sure I'd make a pass in the 2010 without downshifting like I can in the 1st gen. I didn't spend any time playing with the radio or other interior goodies, but Nate (salesman) did. We actually hooked up my iPhone to the car (via bluetooth) to play music, all with voice commands. Press the button on the steering wheel and it prompts you with different commands. Within a couple minutes my phone was paired up with the car and we were listening to music right from it. I wish my car had bluetooth Overall, I'm not sure I'd buy one. The tech package is sweet. Bluetooth, prox key, 10 speaker Bose (Bose.... meh). So if I were going to buy one, I'd probably have to go with that package, but the price one just the base model went up. IIRC, the 1st gen was 22.9k or so for a base model. The 2010 base price is right around 24k I think. I'm not sure on the price for the tech pack, but I'm sure it's pushing the price up even more.