Power isn't everything. Although the turbocharged, intercooled 2.3-liter four nestled under the Mazdaspeed3's hood cranks out a whopping 261 horsepower, it doesn't exactly make this vehicle an absolute blast. Instead, it tends to spoil a near-perfect, front-wheel-drive platform with gobs of torque steer. All-wheel-drive, as Phil Floraday suggests, could provide a solution, but the two-piece Revoknuckle front struts in the 3's distant cousin, the Ford Focus RS, could possibly be a quick and less expensive solution.
Luckily, there's a vehicle that offers virtually everything I love about the Mazdaspeed3 but in a more manageable, balanced package: the Mazda3. True, you sacrifice nearly 100 ponies and an impressive brake system, but you're given a tactile, tossable five-door that's far more balanced and rewarding to drive on a daily basis.
- Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor