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MazdaSpeed 3 GT

Shooting off fireworks in the fog.

Sinking the bit of a powerful electric drill into Styrofoam.

Enlisting Steven Spielberg to direct a fifteen-second commercial.

The above comparisons come to mind after a wintry week with the Mazdaspeed3 GT. It was uncanny how I would insert the ignition key, hear the turbo four’s enticing growl, and see a fine snow just beginning to fall. So much power, so much agility—neutralized by the sudden impotence of the Bridgestone Potenza performance tires. Sometimes it seemed as though I was walking uphill at the ski jump. On one boulevard an old woman in a Buick zoom-zoomed right past me.

So there was no opportunity to run up through the gears; in fact, I was short-shifting the six-speed manual transmission. Nor was there opportunity to pitch the 3 GT into a corner—although it was perfectly obvious how well the body motions would be controlled, how finely calibrated the independent suspension is, and how deft the car could potentially be on dry pavement.

The 3 GT lets you know all about itself in the very first moments. It calls to mind how the film Crash takes off and wants to carry you along.

Yet all that remained was to appreciate the leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel with evocative red stitching. (The seats have cloth inserts.) I also toyed with the navigation system, and with the notion of setting “Tucson” as the destination.

The 3 GT is also equipped with a limited-slip differential, xenon headlights, and stability and traction control.

For $26,300, it represents quite a package, and it comes with a mean look on its face and a rear spoiler that obviously has a bone to pick with the atmosphere.

If you ever get to drive a 3 GT in wintertime, here’s hoping you can keep your snow boots planted while operating the aluminum foot pedals.

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Buying Guide

2013 Mazda MAZDASPEED3

Fair Market Price $19,070 Touring Hatchback
Motor Trend Rating
StarStarStarStarHalf-Star

0-60 MPH:

5.8 SECS

EPA MPG:

18 City / 25 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Best Pick