2010 Mazda 3 vs MazdaSpeed 3 - Comparison

What's the point of 263 hp and 280 lb-ft if you can't -- or at least don't want to -- use it? Flooring the Speed 3 in first or second gear means fighting with the steering wheel. At this point, there are a lot of powerful, front-wheel-drive cars on the market, and very few of them behave this wildly under acceleration.

Aside from that, there's little to dislike about the Speed 3, which preserves much of the easy-going charm of the regular hatch while adding noticeably sharper steering, nicer seats, and a much, much, better clutch pedal. Rear-seat passengers have told me the ride is rather punishing, but from the driver's seat, I'd say the ride is acceptable for a performance-oriented vehicle.

For its price, the Speed 3 is still a good option if you prioritize power over finesse and refinement. Otherwise, a Volkswagen GTI or a slightly more expensive Subaru Impreza WRX are better bets.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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