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The Mazda3 - A Car with High(er) Values

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author photo by Autotrader June 2010

Car magazines love the 2010 Mazda3. Whenever it's subjected to comparison tests, it invariably comes out on top. Reviewers marvel at the way it drives, the well-appointed high-quality interior and how it's all put together. So there must be a catch. Maybe it's too expensive to run, or depreciates like crazy.

Actually no. The Mazda3 turns out to be just as pleasing to one's inner bank manager as it is to an inner gearhead. The Automotive Lease Guild (ALG) not only named it best in its compact-car class for residual values over three years, it also made the Mazda3 one of the slowest-depreciating cars on the market. After 36 months, ALG reckons the Mazda3 will retain 59 percent of its value. That's only a tad behind the best performer in this field, the Mini Cooper, which holds on to 60.8 percent of its sticker price over the same time.

Separating out various models, Mazda informs us that the star performer on the street, the sporty 263-hp Mazdaspeed3 also comes out top in these stakes. Versions with the 2.5-liter engine option enjoy a slight advantage over those with the 2.0, mostly because of the higher level of standard equipment that comes with those cars. And although sedan versions sell better, the five-door hatchback body style just squeaks ahead, residual-wise.

Looking at cost of ownership figures over five years, the good news keeps coming. An entry-level Mazda3 i Sport sedan with an automatic transmission, 2.0-liter engine has ownership costs – taking depreciation, insurance, maintenance, gas, repairs and financing into account – of $25,983. The average for the class is $26,929, making a Mazda3 owner $946 better off.

These favorable figures have helped the marque as a whole outclass frequent chart-toppers like Honda and Subaru, since the Mazda3 makes up a third of all Mazda vehicles sold around the world. The ALG figures work out to Mazda cars and trucks keeping 54.1 percent of their value, followed by Subaru with 54 percent and Honda with 53.7.

"We believe residual value remains the best metric for evaluating the overall strength of an automotive brand," said James Clark, general manager of ALG. "The key to strong residual values is creating good-looking, high-quality vehicles," said Eric Johnston of Mazda North America. "A car that's not desirable new won't be desirable used either. When people want your cars, they are willing to pay more for them."

The upshot for buyers is that they can choose a car that makes a good financial case for itself, yet is also a fun drive – and who can put a value on that?

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Used 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 i Sedan
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Used 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 i Sedan
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Used 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 s Grand Touring
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Used 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 i Sedan
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Mazda3 - A Car with High(er) Values - Autotrader