Though its styling is controversial, this hot hatch is still a performance bargain. The Mazda Speed 3 starts at less than 25K and manages to be a value at that. Lots of speed and sharp handling help the 3 rocket down the straights and blast through most corners. In fact, it handles much better than the previous generation of this model. A large degree of torque steer still rears its ugly head when powering out of a corner, especially over rough pavement.
Standard equipment is like a hot hatch wish list. 18 inch wheels, sport tuned suspension, a limited-slip differential, a Bose audio system, and navigation are all present. The sole drive train combination is a turbo charged 2.3 liter four cylinder making 263 Hp mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission. This is good for 0 to 60 mile per hour times of 6.3 seconds. Pretty quick for cars in this segment.
The interior is nicely appointed with high quality materials and plenty of cargo room in the hatch. The rear seats can fold down for even more storage. The rear seats offer a reasonable amount of leg and head room. Enough that adults should be able to sit there, if only for short trips.
Bodystyles: Four-door hatchback
Engines: 2.3L turbocharged I-4
Transmissions: 6-speed manual
For 2010, the Mazdaspeed3 gets a revised cooling system designed to improve power delivery, along with taller second through sixth gears. A recalibrated torque management system allows for improved steering control and torque application, and also helps to mitigate torque steer (although it remains an issue). The use of higher strength steel up front on crucial safety areas and suspension components ups rigidity by some two percent.
The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is aggressive at any angle, yet stylish and functional. The 18-inch wheels mimic those of the RX-8 R3 and help to lend the hatchback a wider, lower stance.
Significant standard features on the Mazdaspeed3 include Bluetooth connectivity, three-spoke steering wheel with red stitching, dual zone climate control, and 60/40 folding rear seats. A six-speaker audio system and Mazdaspeed-badged door sills come with the model as well.
The 2.3-liter turbocharged four responds quickly to throttle inputs and puts its power down well. The stiffer springs, harder dampers, and stickier performance rubber provide a surprising amount of grip for a front-wheel drive car. Blasting off from a standstill is a fun endeavor when the turbo kicks in at full boost. An all-wheel drive option is rumored to be in the works and would further add to the Mazdaspeed3’s appeal, not to mention performance.
Dual front and side airbags are standard for the Mazdaspeed3, along with anti-lock brakes (ABS), dynamic stability control, traction control, and collapsable steering column.
18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Aggressive exterior
- Simple, well-equipped, interior
- Responsive chassis and powertrain
- Addicting speed
- Yee-haw torque steer
- Mild turbo lag
- Tiny navigation screen
Hot hatch and a cool price
- Volkswagen GTI
- Honda Civic Si
- MINI Cooper S
- Subaru WRX STI