Saturday, April 30, 2011


I just spent a week in the Volt, Chevy’s new plug-in gas-electric hybrid.
I first wrote about this car in this blog in January (see GETTING A CHARGE FROM THE VOLT) when I had the opportunity to take it on a drive to the Florida Keys, so I’m not going to go into great detail here about its various features and what I think about how it looks or drives again.
What having the Volt available for a week, as opposed to a one-day drive, did was give me an opportunity to really get into the concept of the day-to-day operation of a plug-in electric.
With its lithium-ion battery pack fully charged, the Volt runs on electric power for about 40 miles, depending on your driving style, the temperature, and the terrain. (South Florida is warm -- OK, hot -- most of the year and flat all the time.)
The Volt's home charger.
Getting that full charge is the key.
When I picked up the Volt in Miami Beach, the battery was not fully charged, so I was running on the 1.5-liter gas engine halfway home, a distance of 30-35 miles or so. I also was running on the gas engine when I had to go back out that evening on a jaunt of about 25 miles roundtrip.
On my return from the latter trek, I decided it was time to charge up the Volt.
Plugged in and charging.
Here I ran into a slight problem. The Volt comes with a home charger (stowed neatly under the floor panel in the stowage area of the hatchback) that has a cord of 15 feet in length. It would have been easy enough had I been able to pull the Volt into my garage right next to the only electrical outlet. But with a kayak taking up space in the middle of the garage floor, that wasn’t possible.
So what I had to do was leave the garage door slightly open and ease the Volt’s nose in as far as a I could.  I then was able to plug the home charger into the wall socket, and the other end of the cord reached the receptacle on the Volt.
Green light indicates charging.
I plugged it in, and when it began charging a second later, there was a slight beep of the horn and a small light on the top of the dash turned green.
This was a procedure that I repeated every day for the week I had the car.
The plug ... 
Though the recycling time was, according to the in-car computer screen, about 10 hours, I didn’t get a full charge on the first day even though it had been plugged in much longer. When I started it up late the next morning, the indicator showed 36 miles capacity. The next two days, the maximum drive on electric alone was 35 and 34 miles, respectively.
... and charging receptacle.
It wasn’t until the third or fourth day when I began my charging with some juice already left on the battery that I was able to get to the full 40-mile range. That is supposed to be capacity, but a couple of days later I actually began the morning with the indicator showing a maximum range of 41 miles. A bonus!
As the week went on, I got into the habit of starting my recharging immediately when I returned home. The result was that for most of my time I did not expend the entire electric range with my driving.
The driver's information screen.
An indicator on the instrument display keeps track of your range mile-by-mile as you go along, so you always know where you stand. The good thing is, when the indicator hits zero the power plant seamlessly shifts to the gas engine. Except for the slight engine noise that breaks the miles of silence, you can’t tell when it makes the switch.
I pretty much drove the Volt as I normally do -- no lolly-gagging at intersections but no jackrabbit drag-race starts either. Another little indicator in the panel constantly advises you when you are being fuel efficient in your driving and when you are using up more power, and I tried to go by that.
What I found was that with careful driving -- again, not to an extreme  but using that old guideline of driving as if there is an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal -- you can actually coax a fuel more miles out of the Volt than the supposed maximum 40.
On one trip, mostly on city streets, I started with a range of 34 miles of electric power available and finished with 16 showing. That’s a difference of 18 miles, but I actually drove a distance of 23.9, according to the odometer. That is quite a bonus. Other times the difference was just a couple of miles in my favor.
The bottom line here is that by consistently recharging the battery by plugging in the Volt each time I returned home, even during the day, I was able to go 355.2 miles burning up just 3.0 gallons of fuel for the week. The car’s computer gave me an mpg figure of 117.6, though my math says the figure should be 118.4.
The Volt storage compartment ...
Whatever figure is right, with gas priced in the $4 range, the savings can add up pretty quickly. Estimated costs run from $1.50 to under $3 in electricity to give the Volt’s battery a full charge, depending on how depleted the battery is and what your electric company’s rates are.
I hasten to add here that anyone who has a commute of more than 40 miles a day and/or doesn’t have the opportunity to hook up the charger as often as I did is not going to attain that mileage. If you are on a long trip and use up the approximate 350-mile max range in one take, you’re not going to get that kind of mileage either.
Somehow, the government has come up with an mpg rating in the 90s, but again, that depends on how often you charge it. It could be more, it could be less.
“Your mileage may vary” was never more truer than for a vehicle like the Volt.

with stowage of the charger under the floor.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I just had a little exchange with someone on Facebook (whom I don’t know but is a friend of a friend) about the release of the Obama birth certificate.
There was a bit of gloating in her tone that this release settled the issue, which is fine, except it won’t in some quarters. Late this afternoon I just heard someone (a guest) on a radio show say he was going to release proof on Thursday that this document is a forgery.
So it’s not over even when it’s seemingly over.
My comment to the poster, though, had nothing to do with the validity of the birth certificate or the birthers questioning of it. That would violate my own guideline about keeping this blog non-political.
No, my question was simply this:
How are presidential candidates actually validated?
The Constitution requires that the president be an American citizen by birth, a resident within the U.S. for at least 14 years (I didn’t know about that one), and 35 years old.
But it says nothing about who verifies all those standards are met.
The Constitution goes into quite a bit of detail about how electors shall go about casting their votes in the Electoral College (Amendment XII) and even how the president may be removed from office because of an inability to perform his (or her) duties (Amendment XXV).
But nary a word about how the candidate is verified to meet all the requirements.
Does anybody who might be reading this missive know how that is determined? Did I sleep through a civics class when that came up?
My guess is this is done on a state-by-state basis because Arizona recently passed legislation (since vetoed) that would have required each candidate to present proof of his (her) eligibility to appear on the ballot. But that’s just a guess.
The Facebook poster didn’t know either, but she did think the whole matter of questioning his birthplace showed disrespect to the president.
All I can say here is that the whole matter may not have come up at all if the process of verifying a candidate’s credentials was done properly in the first place.
Again, if someone can fill in what I’m missing her, please do so.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Let’s see now, where was I before I became engrossed in spring football?
Oh, yes. I was going to write about the Audi TT Roadster, which I recently had the opportunity to drive for a week.
A few years ago I recall reading a piece by a reviewer who questioned the TT’s credentials as a sports car. If memory serves, his point was that though it looked the part, the TT really didn’t act it. Too refined for his taste, I guess. If a sports car must be hard to start at times, balk at cold weather, and require the moves of a contortionist to get in and out of, then, no,  guess the TT doesn’t qualify.
Other than that, I would think the 2011 model I drove would fit the standard quite well.
The TT -- also available as a coupe that got a really stylish exterior upgrade a few years ago -- offers a lot more in performance and handling than the original that was introduced a decade or so back.
Its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumps out 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to all four its wheels via a six-speed, double-clutch gearbox you can shift via paddle shifters or operate simply as an automatic transmission.
The standard all-wheel drive provides sure-footed handling in tight turns and is welcome when road conditions are not exactly perfect, such as in snow in northern climes or heavy rains in our South Florida climate.
The ride is smooth, some might say too comfortable for a sports car, but you can adjust the suspension with the push of a button to tighten it up for cornering without losing much in the way of comfort.
It is compact inside, but comfortable, and the flat-bottom steering wheel makes it easier for the driver to slide in and out of his seat. As is expected with Audi, interior features are of the highest quality.
Controls aren’t all that far off the chart when it comes to putting the navigation, audio, and climate systems through their paces, but maybe I’m just getting used to Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface) system.
Audi has ignored the trend to retractable hard tops for the TT, which means with the soft top there is a bit more wind noise when driving with the top up, but it isn’t all that overpowering. Raising and lowering the top is a one-button operation.
All in all, the Audi TT is a solid enough choice when it comes to fun-to-drive-and-own roadsters, but one thing does hold it back: its competition. The Nissan 370Z, for example, offers as much in classic sports car panache and is available (in some trim levels) at a couple of thousand under the TT’s $41,300 base price. You can also get a standard manual transmission with the Z, something not available in the TT.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I have not been keeping up on my blog recently because of football.
Doesn’t make sense, does it?
After all, there are no football games being played these days (and may not be, on the professional level, in the fall, for that matter).
So how is football keeping me from blogging?
I do some writing on collegiate sports for a couple of different outlets/publications, and this is the time of year when college football teams are going through spring practice. In some cases, teams I am responsible for have already wrapped up spring practice, and that requires me to write summaries of what they allegedly accomplished.
This is also the time of year when all the preseason magazines on college football are beginning to be put together, and I am in the midst of that as well.
So I haven’t been able to get to my blog, even though I didn’t lack for topics.
Last week I drove an Audi TT roadster and want to comment on that. Didn’t have time.
I also found it interesting that because a basketball coach in Arkansas was fired, Miami, which is more than a thousand miles away from Fayetteville, Miami, is now looking for a coach. You see, Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, then hired Mike Anderson.
Mike Anderson was the coach at Missouri, which then went out and tried to hire Matt Painter from Purdue. When Painter turned down Mizzou, Mizzou went out and hired Frank Haith from the University of Miami, and now the Hurricanes are looking for a basketball coach.
It’s a small world, college basketball. I was going to blog about that. Didn’t have time.
Finally, the Masters was played last week and a local radio station broadcast the tournament. Yes, that’s right. There was coverage of a golf tournament -- on the radio!
And you probably thought auto racing on the radio was bad. It’s nothing compared to golf.
I was reminded of a comic route featuring ventriloquist Jeff Dunham who was in a conversation with one of his, um, characters, Peanut. Peanut mentions that at the previous show, he noticed a man in the audience who was facing the opposite direction and was flipping his hands every time he (Peanut) said something.
So Peanut asked the guy what he was doing.
“He was a signer. A SIGH-NER. Think about this for a second. They brought a bunch of deaf people to see the ventriloquist! What!?!?!?
“What do you do next week? Oh, I’m going to take a bunch of blind folks to see David Copperfield.”
Pause, followed by Peanut’s stern voice.
“The elephant disappeared. It just f*cking disappeared. Oh my god, he’s juggling now! You should see ... oh, sorry.”
Imagine what Peanut -- or Walter -- would say about golf on the radio.
“Tiger sticks a tee in the ground, places his ball on it, steps back, waggles his club, looks down the fairway, looks at the ball, looks back down the fairway, takes a practice swing, looks back down at the ball, looks down the fairway ... ”
Ah, what drama!
I listened to a few minutes just to see what hell it was like, but when the announcer at one point described what one of the golfers was wearing (black shoes and black visor is all that I remember him saying), that is where I drew the line.
I thought I might blog about that, too.
Speaking of which, I have drifted off the point here. My intent was just to let you know I will be blogging more regularly starting next week. Or sometime.
Starting with my comments on the Audi TT. (Vroom, vroom, engine sound.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


A bit of good news came out of the Florida legislature last week.
The state senate passed a bill that will require drivers on multilane highways to use the far left lane for passing only. They must move to the right to let faster vehicles pass them.
A similar bill was passed during Gov. Jeb Bush’s term, and Bush vetoed it. According to one report, Bush said he did so because drivers who hang out in the left lane are “cautious and careful.”
All politicians pretty much say stupid things from time to time, but I would say that particular statement ranks right up there in the top five.
Drivers who hang out in the left lane, even those going the speed  limit when others are going by them, are inconsiderate and stupid.
Restricting the left lane for passing reduces one of the more dangerous practices on interstates and other multilane expressways -- passing on the right.
When it comes to dangerous practices, I would say speeding (except in extreme cases, of course) is behind drivers who weave in and out of traffic trying to get past slower drivers lingering in the left lane.
Speeding may add to the intensity and damage sustained from car crashes. Weaving in and out of traffic, however, causes them.
As for the argument that this bill would encourage drivers to speed, I frankly don’t see the cause-and-effect relationship here. You either going to obey the speed limit strictly or you’re not.
I’m not saying you should rip along I-95 at 120 mph, but if you are within 10 mph of the limit and come across a slower vehicle, you should be able to have a clear passing lane to your left and not have to chance it passing on the right.
Conditions -- weather, heavy traffic, poor road surfaces, construction areas, etc. -- are a better determinant for your vehicle’s speed than arbitrary limits any way. Keeping up with the flow of traffic is more important, too.
The bill, which passed by a 37-1 vote in the Senate, now goes to the House, where a similar bill has been filed.
What’s going to be interesting to see if it passes is how it is enforced. There’s a law in Florida that emergency flashers are to be used only in cases of, well, emergency, say when you are stopped alongside the road or going at a much slower pace (below 45 mph on an interstate) than accompanying traffic, not just in a heavy rain, which is what many misguided folks today do.
It is very distracting to fellow drivers.
I haven’t heard of anyone being ticketed for it, though.
My advice: Use your headlights or get off the road. Or both.
This is the end of today’s rant.

Friday, April 8, 2011


A old friend of my son has on his Facebook page a link to a list of the 100 Worst Movies of All Time, at least according to a poll by the Internet Movie Database (IMBD).
If you’re like me, when you run across something like that you have to check it out to see how many of the movies you have personally seen. Turns out I had seen only one, and that one because I was a fan of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and Manos: Hands of Fate (which translates to Hands: Hands of Fate) was one of the movies featured. (Alfred said he has seen four.)
If you want to check out the list, it is at www. I have seen a few others (or, in some cases, parts of them) I think should be added.
-- The Tingler. This has Vincent Price playing a doctor who discovers that tingling in the spine from fear is caused by some sort of odd growth (it looks like a long slug covered with seaweed hat will kill you unless you negate its effect by screaming. His wife dies because she is a mute and cannot scream, and he removes the “tingler” from her spine, which, surprise! surprise!, escapes.
-- Plan Nine from Outer Space. Not sure how this one got left off the IMBD list because it generally is recognized as one of the worst movies of all-time. If you saw Ed Wood, you saw the story behind this campy classic. Wood was the writer and director of this tale of aliens from outer space (where else?) who are going unleash zombies on the world. I’m not sure what their first eight plans were but this one doesn’t work very well. They seem to be sitting in desk chairs in their space ship.
-- Zoolander. My wife and I had just seen some Ben Stiller movie we had liked, so we went to see this one. Big mistake. I don’t like to walk out on a movie after you have to lay down so much money for tickets, but this is one we simply couldn’t take. We left maybe halfway in or at least long enough to know this wasn’t worth the time.
-- Blades of Glory. This Will Ferrell product has its moments, but clever one-liners can’t make up for the rest of the vapidness. It’s not as bad as Zoolander, though.
-- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. How oh how could Gene Wilder could be part of something like this a year after making Young Frankenstein shall remain one of the mysteries of life. I guess we’re all entitled to make a mistake once in a while.
-- Eating Raoul. This actually has gotten a lot of good comments from people on the Netflix website. To each his own, I guess. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about a couple who decided to raise money to get their restaurant going by luring sex-seekers to their home and then killing them for their money. Netflix says this movie is “Campy, Raunchy, Quirky.” I thought it was just plain dumb.
-- The Last Mimzy. OK. This is a kids’ movie. I saw it with the grandkids, who did like it. Mimzy is a stuff rabbit toy from the future that the kids in a family come across. It’s going to save the world from all the adults who want to destroy the planet. More brainwashing of our kids. And grandkids.
-- National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Not really all that bad, but considering the solid effort in National Lampoon’s Vacation, it could have been so much better.
-- The Men Who Stare at Goats. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. It had possibilities, but then goes off in directions I just couldn’t follow.
-- The Return of the Pink Panther. As good as the original Pink Panther was, this sets a course straight into mediocrity. The ones that follow Peter Sellers’ death (Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther) are even worse. I’ve also read that the remake of the Pink Panther with Steve Martin is pretty bad.
Frankly, I could probably pick up a newspaper (or visit a website) for today’s movies and come up with an entire different list, such is the state of what is being produced today. But I kept this to just movies I have seen.
You probably have your own list.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


According to a current Buick TV commercial, we human beings think 3,000 thoughts per day.  I rarely get beyond “I’m hungry” or “I think I want a beer” or “I sure am sleepy” these days, but I’ll take their word for it.
This got me to thinking about something.
Going back a couple of years, I seem to recall it being stated that a man thinks about sex every 20 seconds.
So let’s do some math here.
Every 20 seconds would be three times a minute, which would be 180 times an hour.
Allowing a generous eight hours for sleep, take that 180 times 16 and you get 2,880 thoughts in a day.
Take my word for it on the math. I did it on the calculator on my computer.
That leaves only 120 thoughts for the rest of the day. That’s only a fraction of a thought left per minute.
There doesn’t seem to be much room left for much of anything else, does there?
Especially when you take into consideration what I’m going to have to think about what I’m going to have breakfast (even if it’s just toast and coffee), lunch, and dinner, not to mention what kind of beer I want at night and how many. (My doctor says two, but I sometimes “think” about having three.)
And what if I change my mind about what I want for breakfast? Does that count as two thoughts?
I hope not. I don’t want to waste them.
Then again, maybe the 3,000 thoughts a day claim is bogus.
According to Jeff Foxworthy, men are usually thinking only two thoughts: “I’d like a beer, and I’d like to see something naked.”
I think he’s right.
Dang. There goes another one.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Some random thoughts on a beautiful Sunday (at least here in South Florida). ...
According to CBS announcer Jim Nantz, a win by Butler over Connecticut in Monday night's national championship game would assure it as being the “greatest Cinderella team” in NCAA basketball tournament history. Frankly, I’m not too sure about that. Nobody, I mean nobody except the players involved and a few of its most rabid fans, gave Villanova a shot at beating Georgetown in 1985. It won’t be that big of a surprise if  Butler beats UConn, however. ...
To be fair about that previous comment, Nantz actually made his comment before Butler had beaten VCU in the national semifinals, but he applied it to whichever teams were playing in the title game ...

Finally saw the movie Secretariat the other night (Thank you, Netflix). Even if you aren't a big fan of horse racing, it is a great story, particularly at this time of the year with the Kentucky Derby just a month away. What a magnificent horse he was.
Many race fans -- and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay -- took the opportunity to criticize the decision by the IndyCar Series to go to double-file restarts after yellow flags following the confusion and crash in the first turn of the first lap of the opening race at St. Petersburg a week ago. But even if that decision hadn’t been made, the race was still going to start in double-file, and that’s when the biggest crash occurred. ...
The biggest reason for the crash, as race winner Dario Franchitti pointed out, was driver error. Robin  Miller, the former Indianapolis Star columnist who writes for SpeedTV now, quoted one team manager bluntly: “There’s no cure for stupid.” ...
Homestead-Miami Speedway officials have put out a release saying it has added a twist to Ford Championship Weekend in November when champions of all three of NASCAR’s divisions -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Trucks -- will be crowned. The track, a release says, will become “the first North American track to run a NASCAR series oval race in reverse (clockwise).”
Among other things, this will require teams to build cars with refueling receptacles on the right instead of the traditional left side of the car, the Speedway states.
Please note that the date of this release was April 1. ...
Two games into the season and my Cardinals are off to a discouraging start. They lost their opener when they blew several scoring chances to add to an early lead and Alfred Pujols hit into three double plays, and they were blown out in their second game. Pujols did homer, though. ...
I didn’t see either of the two shows on HBO or PBS examining the role and problems of intercollegiate athletics, but if they advocated reform, I’d have to say I agree wholeheartedly with them. Unfortunately, we have seriously strayed so far from the original idea of college athletics that I don’t think we can ever get back to proper perspective.
I don’t deny coaches and others in athletic administration have the right to make all the money they can, but contracts have become so extravagant they put an unnecessary burden on everybody to keep up.
But it’s not just coaching salaries that are the problem. Consider this: schools now find it necessary to build practice facilities -- yes, practice facilities -- to keep up in basketball. The University of Miami, which can’t fill its arena for real games against the likes of even Duke or North Carolina, now has a building for practice next door.
To quote former NBA star Allen Iverson once sneered: “We not even talking about the game, when it actually matters. We talking about practice.” ... 
It this is what “karma” is all about? The Fiesta Bowl, which spit in the face of college football tradition when it bullied its way into the top-level BCS rotation, leaving the historic Cotton Bowl in the dust, now may be left out with all the dirt being dragged up in an investigation into its financial past. The Fiesta director, John Junker, recently was fired after the investigation revealed that nearly half of the $4.85 million in expenses he was reimbursed for over the last decade could not be verified. ...
Speaking of bowl games, there isn’t any better evidence of how screwed up college football has become when teams like Connecticut are losing more than a million bucks to go play in the postseason. A bowl is supposed to be a reward, not a financial punishment. ...
When universities started making media guides glorified recruiting publications with all sorts of color displays and a huge number of pages, the NCAA, in all its wisdom, passed rules limiting the number of pages and barring color shots from inside pages. So now some schools have simply taken all the statistics out of their media guides and put them in separate “fact books.” ...
With the NCAA so concerned about the size of media guides and phone calls a coach can make to a prospective recruit while ignoring the true corruption and hypocrisy in collegiate athletics, it reminds me of a story a veteran sportswriter told me years ago.
It seems the Southeastern Conference once called a meeting to address a big problem that had come up. But when the athletic directors began the meeting, they were leery of actually talking about it. Nobody wanted to bring it up.
Finally, one AD broke the ice.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “we’re talking about mouse turds here and we’re up to our ass in elephant crap.”
Except he didn’t use the word crap.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Being as my NCAA basketball tournament predictions have been as accurate as a weatherman trying to predict where the next tornado is going to hit in Kansas, I thought I’d catch up on some car stuff today.
Here are some “mini reviews” on vehicles I have driven recently  (meaning within the past year) but are not going to have a full review on. I don’t have a system for deciding which cars I give a full review to and which ones fall in the mini category. It just happens.
Scion tC
The Sction tC was the third entry in the Scion (pronounced sigh-on) lineup (pronounced line-up) and the first one that looked like a regular car. It followed the xA (no longer in production) and the boxy but wildly popular (among the younger generation) xB.
The tC was followed by the xD, and soon the iQ (Scion‘s answer to the Smart ForTwo) will follow.
The tC essentially is a coupe version of parent company Toyota’s big sedan seller, the Corolla. Toyota doesn’t make a coupe Corolla (or a coupe Camry, for that matter), so if a coupe is what you’re looking for you should sidle on over to the Scion showroom.
The tC is a fairly roomy couple with good trunk space. It looks nice and sporty, but performance from the 2.4-liter four cylinder engine is so-so. Fuel mileage is 23 mpg city, 31 highway. That’s not hybrid territory but isn’t bad.
The most surprising thing about the tC is its price. It starts at just over $18,000. Frankly, I had driven it for a few days before taking a closer look at the Munroney and was shocked to see the $20,169 price tag for my test vehicle (the extra cost was for the six-speed automatic transmission over the manual).
Just judging from the somewhat spartan interior, I had put the tag more in the $15K-$17K range at tops. But that’s what you’re paying for the xB and xD these days. I think that’s a bit much as well.
Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
The Lancer is Mitsubishi’s entry in the economy sedan segment, a little more performance-oriented vehicle than normally found in the class.
The Lancer Sportback takes the Lancer up a notch with a four-door hatchback version offering a bit more in the way of fun-to-drive quotient.
And the Lancer Ralliart is at the top of the Lancer Sportback chart when it comes to performance with its 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping out 237 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque.
That’s a lot of punch for a vehicle weighing in at under 3.600 pounds, and the result is a 0-to-60 mph time in the very low six-second bracket. The engine is mated with an automated, dual-clutch manual transmission with paddle shifters.
Of course, you’re going to pay for that performance in two ways.
One is up front. The 2011 Ralliart trim version starts at just over $28,000 including destination and delivery charges (and just who doesn’t include them?). That’s $11,000 and change more than the base Sportback and about $8,000 more than the GTS trim in between.
The other is in mileage. The Ralliart is rated at 17 mpg city, 25 highway compared to the base Sportback’s figures of 24/32 (with a manual transmission).

It’s a lot of fun to drive, though.
Mazda long has been recognized for putting performance in surprising packages, like the Mazdaspeed3, another entrant in the sport hatchback segment.
It’s equipped with a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine that pumps out 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and with that much power going to the front wheels there’s a tendency for a good amount of torque steer to come into play.
You want to pay attention and keep a good grip on the wheel if you’re making a quick entry into traffic and making a turn from a standing stop.
The Mazdaspeed3 and Mitsubishi Ralliart would be a good match in a drag race, not that I am suggesting such a thing. Like the Ralliart, the Speed3 has 0-to-60 times in the low six-second bracket. Fuel economy is rated at 18/25.

The only transmission offered is a six-speed manual, which some reviewers have seen as a drawback. I guess I’m still old-fashioned, but I like the old-time manual even over automatics with sequential manual shift capability.

The interior accoutrements reinforce the emphasis on the performance aspects of the Speed3 (check out the pedals) but living to its hatchback heritage, it has nice stowage capability, up to nearly 43 cubic feet with the second row of seats lowered. There’s even 17 cubic feet behind them when they are raised.
The Mazdaspeed3 starts at $23,700 for 2011, which is largely unchanged from the redesigned 2010 model.
If you would like to read more car reviews, and not just written by me, check out our media association website at
It has a selection of videos as well as other automotive news.