2011 Mazdaspeed3

Matt Tierney

It's clear why we selected the Mazdaspeed 3 (along with the base Mazda 3) as an All-Star for 2010: the direct steering and crisp handling alone put it in the very upper echelon of sport compact cars, alongside the Volkswagen GTI and the Mini Cooper S. Still, I could never bring myself to buy a Mazdaspeed3 for two primary reasons: ridiculous torque steer (yes, I know it's slightly less severe than the previous-gen car) and an incredibly stiff and overly notchy gearbox. I thought that maybe this test car's gearbox hadn't yet been broken in, but the car has about 2500 miles on the odometer.

I wouldn't necessarily steer others away from the MS3, though, since its price is highly competitive and it offers tons of horsepower. Plus, the Mazda comes in a versatile hatchback body style (which we liked during a year with a non-Speed Mazda3) and very supportive seats.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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I agree with most of the comments. The torque steer isn't really an issue. I've owned a 2010 MS3 and currently own a 2012 MS3 which has significantly more HP and TQ than stock. MS3 owners are kind of a fraternity. Every time I see another MS3 I get a waive or a thumbs up because we both obviously get it. It's easy to buy a VW GTI and feel comfortable about your yuppy-mobile, or a WRX or EVO and feel like you're the bee's knees because Travis Pastrana drove one but unless you're racing someone from a stand still, that 2 HP that that WRX has over you means nothing. That WRX wasn't worth the extra $5,000. I would also like to add that with a set of Bridgstone Blizzak tires, the MS3 is a beast in the snow. I would know, I live in PA and commuted through the mountains everyday. I'd recommend this car over any other mainstream turbo 4-cylinder. If I didn't I wouldn't have bought 2 of them. I've also owned a 2006 Mazda 3 with the 2.0 and a 2010 Mazda 3 with the 2.5. All great cars! 
Word of warning for all who intend to buy this car and mod it:Get an AP first before anything else. You're fine with a short ram intake at this point, but if you intend to go further (ie. downpipe, tmic, etc.), you -must- upgrade your fuel pump. Failure to do so will likely result in boom as the ECU logic increases fuelling at WOT, putting strain on the inadequate stock fuel pump, potentially causing it to lean out on fuel delivery - and boom.
I haven't seen that much torque steer. It's about the only minor complaint with a car which is heads above anything in it's group of competitors. There's nothing out there that can touch it without costing you at least 5K more. A cold air intake and a chip modification make it even better for a very reasonable cost.
There is no 'upper arm workout' everytime you get behind the wheel of a stock MS3, or even a very lightly modded one. Even if you go WOT down an on-ramp in 2nd or 3rd, just hold on with both hands. Let go to shift and quickly bring the hand back to the wheel. This goes for both FWD and AWD cars anyway. All these remarks on torque steer tend to overstate the phenomenon on the MS3.Want to quell torque steer even more? An upgraded rear motor mount is a must-have mod. Cost: $130~, installs in minutes. You can go even further and get aftermarket passenger motor mount, transmission motor mount, etc.Notchy shifter? That's actually a good thing, gear shifts feel more engaged when they're in. Want them smoother? Get a heavy shift knob that's at least 650grams. For extra smooth shifts, change the tranny fluid for Ford Motorcraft XT-M5-QS full synthetic manual transmission fluid.The lack of AWD is not such a big problem in the snow. This winter hasn't given us a lot of snow, but last winter was when I had
I've owned this car for a month.Only once have I really felt the torque steer,and that was turning right following a slow car on a country road.I hit the gas hard in second to pass before my wheels were straight.That was a learning lesson!If its a straight line its not noticeable.I have launched hard many times.The gear box dose seem stiff at first,but now I really like it.This car handles like a dream,and is a complete blast! It's my little video game turbo hatch lol.
You guys are nuts about the torque steer. I just test drove a 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 and there is virtually no torque steer in everyday driving conditions. You have to really kick the ms3 in the pants to get it to torque steer. So it may not be the best track car but as an everyday driver with a little bit of umph its unbeatable.

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