By on October 20, 2006

3-005_1.jpgI remember the day my Dad brought home a brand new ’66 Barracuda. While such an auspicious automotive occasion would make any Sting Ray-riding nine-year-old pop a wheelie, the ‘Cuda arrived on the same day The Green Hornet made its TV debut. Both productions proved equally fantastic. Plymouth’s fastback was an effort to sex-up their Valiant sedan with the equivalent of a low-cut party dress. Trouble was, the girl underneath was someone you could only really appreciate for her personality. How times have changed. To wit: the Mazdaspeed 3, an example of what today’s boffins can do with a basic economy car.

It's immediately apparent that Mazdaspeed's go-faster bits have been added with minimum effect on the donor car’s exterior. The subtlety of the makeover is either a testament to changing priorities or an indication that the project team blew their budget on Gold’s Gym. Not that the regular five-door Mazda3 is bad looking. A two-box wagonette in the modern fashion, the 3 projects a chunky, confident persona. Its rear fender sculpting is one of the finest mass-market details on any car extant. The speed racer version offers not much more than a lowered stance, slightly reshaped hood and bumpers, 10-spoke alloys and a prominent rear wing.

07_ms3seats.jpgOpen the door, hatch or engine cover and there’s evidence of cost-saving (at least with the True Red option): a strange, dull hue to the non-exterior body paint. Inside, the song remains the same. The Mazdaspeed3’s seats and door panels receive a mesh-like treatment, along with some red stitching hither and yon. The front perches are more substantial than stock, although thighs get short shrift. The headliner is still made out of dryer lint and although the plastics aren’t despicable, they’re closer to the 40-year-old Plymouth’s polymers than the soft touch materials found inside the Volkswagen GTI (the Mazdaspeed 3’s logical competitor).

Mazdaspeed logos adorn the rear hatch, front sill plates and seats, reminding you of your mount’s extra Zoom each time you clock the tacho. And clock it you will. The Japanese hot hatch is powered by a 2.3 liter, direct-injection turbo four, good for 263hp @ 5500 rpm. The torque is equally impressive: 280 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. You don’t have to pilot a wrong wheel-drive Chevrolet Impala SS to know that’s a heck of a lot of muscle to transfer through the front wheels. Mazda attacked the inherent challenges with a combination of software and mechanical interplay; motive force is doled-out depending on gear selection and steering angle.

3-006_1.jpgThere’s a nice, purposeful wuffle at idle. Pull away and the sound intensifies in pitch rather than volume (from flugelhorn to trumpet). And then, well, the acceleration is on the Subaru WRX STI side of brisk. Providing you can find a way to avoid the smell of 45-series tires in the morning, the Mazdaspeed 3 completes the zero to 60mph sprint in a little less than six seconds. That's a phenomenal achievement for a family car that clocks in at around $22k. Even better, the 3’s turbo lag has been tamed to the point where you’d swear there was a normally aspirated hunk underneath its blunted hood.

The short throw six-speed manual gearbox is direct enough for a front driver, though changes into first can be vague and reluctant. The 3's third cog is a genuine giggle-inducer, but the car will Kung-Fu hustle regardless of selection. And while a touch of torque steer arrives at around 3000rpm, the clever limited slip differential and wall o’ torque soon straighten things out for you.

3-008b_1.jpgIn fact, the badge may read Mazdaspeed, but it might as well say Mazdahandling. With its stiffened chassis, tightened springs and more aggressive front and rear stabilizer bars, the Speed 3 suckers to the pavement with genuine poise and hoon-inducing panache. The wee beastie stays composed and flat through the bends, even when you push it into the inevitable understeer slide and nanny intervention. The upgraded 12.6” vented front discs help give Mazdaspeed3 drivers the confidence they need to make this discovery without undue alarm. Best of all, you don't pay for all that control with a deal-breaking back breaker of a ride. The Mazdaspeed 3 is a daily driver. 

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to peer into cars to check out the highest number on the speedometer, anxious to ascertain its maximum velocity. Of course, the numbers were a hopelessly optimistic fiction, [perfectly] designed to capture our hearts and minds. Well check this: were it not for the Mazdaspeed3’s dials only being visible when the key is twisted, someone pressing their nose against its door glass would see a top mark of 160– only five mph above the car’s actual, honest-to-God top speed. In other words, the Mazdaspeed3 is ready for a nine-year-old’s inspection, ready to create a memorable inaugural day– and ownership experience– for adult and child alike.

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71 Comments on “Mazdaspeed 3 Review...”


  • avatar
    Ar-Pharazon

    This looks like exactly the kind of car that catches my eye . . . a practical (i.e., attainable) ride that turns out to be tons of fun when you push it. Kinda like finding out that the cute girl next door has a pierced tongue. 

  • avatar
    Humourless

    Pity the car is overrated. Automobile dynoed it and even with a 15% correction for driveline loss the engine is making less than 250hp. They did manage to eke out the full 280 in peak torque though.

    My biggest pair of complaints about the MS3 are:
    a) One must take it with 18″ rims. I’m more than a little perturbed at the thought of having to shell out a big wad of dosh just to replace the tires (which, given the hoonery one expects from a MS3 driver, are going to need replacing pretty regularly).
    b) Some marketing genius decided that the only colour offered at first here in Canada is red. Wonderful, just wonderful. This should be a Q-ship, and you go and paint it in the most second most eye-popping colour out there? Perhaps the horn plays La Cucaracha too?

    Fair disclosure though: on balance I do like the car as it reads on paper; I can’t wait to test drive one.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    Seems like AWD would be worth the extra scratch. The speed6 has got it, why not the speed3? Anything that starts shaping up to be a sexier looking alternative to the usual rally-rockets comes up short in some aspect. Stop teasing us.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    I’m not sure I understand the whole soft-touch plastics thing. I have a mark IV gti, which has a nice interior–nicer than the mark V gti in my opinion. I aspire to own an A3, so I do value a nice interior. Realistically, though, as long as the plastics are black, not shiny, free of flash on the parting lines, and don’t rattle, what do I care how soft they are? I can’t remember the last time I touched my dashboard.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    ^Cars are getting so good that it’s easier to nitpick the small stuff, i.e. interior plastics. Unfortunatly that kind of singular focus had led to disasters like a Pontiac I just rented where all of the interior pieces were gummy and squishy and wierd feeling. But still ugly.

    The mark IV has a very nice interior. It tops the markV in every aspect except for the markV’s steering wheel and plaid-tastic seats.

    I guess the point is that if you were torn between this Speed3 and the GTI, the squishy dash might make the difference.

  • avatar
    Logan

    I was lusting for one of these for a while… until Mazda Canada released pricing… $30,995!! WTF? OTD price is about $37K, WAY too much.

  • avatar
    ash78

    If I were in the market for this vs. the GTI (presumably teh upcoming 4-door GTI, apples-to-apples), I would also want to consider tuning options. The VW 2.0t already has a tremendous aftermarket for it and in typical VW fashion is “detuned” from the factory to the same as the base Passat. ~250bhp and ~280tq are very attainable with a $600 chip. I know Mazda has a pretty solid aftermarket, but these stock numbers seem pretty stout, I wonder if there’s anywhere else to go with the stock hardware.

    I second the comment about the 18″ wheels being overkill. That’s just my practical side (dents, tire replacement cost/frequency, ride quality). And why no AWD?

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    Hutton: The trade-off is between AWD and price. Even the WRX Wagon starts at $25,120 (MSRP, http://www.truedelta.com). The Mitsu Evo and STi variant are much more then this. Remember, the Evo VIII first came to our shores with just 274lb/ft of torque. This is, in fact, an incredible value.

    NICKNICK: The dash material is indeed designed around the needs of a driver. The material, as resilient as it may be, is a fine cobbled texture…like if they pressed a screen door onto the dash.

    Other interior elements are pleasing to the eye and to the touch for the most part. The door panels ring hollow when rapped, but not in a way that is beyond expectation for a car of this class.

    I am disappointed that the AWD system didn’t make it into the car. I think that Mazda’s decision to limit HP & torque in 1st & 2nd gear will be good for reliability and liability, but ultimately will limit this car to the sidelines of the local autocross. While armature sporting events are not the only determinant of a cars ranking in the minds of SCC enthusiasts, having real success on the track (or parking lot) can really help a car in this respect. Of course, Mk IV GTI were (are) not very competitive (twist beam rear axle anyone?) and it hasn’t hurt their reputation all that much.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Let’s see: 5-door utility? Funky looks? Godawful amounts of torque channelled through the front wheels, hampered only by engine management trickery? Limited run? Fast as hell in daily driving (although not as fast as expected in 0-60)?

    Sounds like Mazda’s tribute to the Saab Viggen — only at a little over half the MSRP.

    Well done, Mazda. While AWD would have made this car a real menace, it also carries a weight, cost and complexity penalty that may have upset the overall balance. The GTI and the Mazdaspeed3 prove that, while perhaps not the HOly Grail of handling, you really can have terrific, chuckable daily-driveable handling cars in FWD.

  • avatar

    We’ve got the 04 automatic version at home (wife’s car) and I’d love to get her to trade up, but there’s this little matter of her not driving a manual transmission (and having no interest in learning to).

    It amazes me that this car got the handling even better – I was originally sold on the one we got because the handing reminded me so much of the two E36 M3′s that we’ve had in the last decade. Now, you’re talking adding that kind of power, and still staying under $25K? Damn!

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Hey Gents,

    As the owner of one 06 Honda Civic SI, and an avid reader of all things 18-30k, I’ve been intrigued by the MS3 since Day One.

    Alot of people knock the selection of FWD, but lets evaluate. AWD adds cost, weight, and drivetrain parasitic loss. Responsiveness in a FWD platform instead of an AWD platform is much more satisfying. Drive a 993 Porsche C2 vs a C4 back to back…both are satisfying, but the lunge factor is more evident in the C2.

    Mazda seems to have done a fine job controlling the torque steer factor while not limiting the fun. I’m very curious as to how this will affect aftermarket tuning. If the system is setup to drain boost in 1st and 2nd (it lets full boost come on 3rd) then what happens when you add a turboback exhaust? Same power in 1st and 2nd?

    Anyhoo…insofar as performance is concerned, I don’t think this is a true competitor to the GTI. Cost is lower, marginally, weight is lower, handling is better, and power is +25%.
    But then again, the same could be said to all of the cars in this bracket…

    If you’ve seen a dyno of this engine, it appears to be choked by exhaust on the upper and lower end. Apparently, Mazdaspeed factory performance parts can pretty quickly unleash an extra 30 HP (supposedly and intake and exhaust). I’d say it’ll get a good following…

    I agree on the 18″ wheel part. Chevy Cobalt SS did that too…it’s a cheap marketing gimmick in my mind, to put 215/45/18 on a car with this weight. I think I’d try to swap them in at the dealership while buying some 17×8 wheels with 225 or 235/40 rubber. Seems like the inherent traction benefits of more rubber would be desirable in this car.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    What’s wrong with a twist beam rear suspension? A lot of guys with “real” independent rear suspension end up putting stiffer sway bars back there like twist beam guys. The only real disadvantage I can think of is the inability to *precisely* control the camber of the wheel through its travel, but I suspect at the short travel distances involved on a road car that shouldn’t matter that much.

    From what I can gather, twist beam suspensions seem like a stupid idea that works pretty well. Am I wrong?

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I’m not knocking FWD at all, I just think this would be a more compelling package with AWD. And 30 more HP. And 17″ wheels.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    As the owner of a new 2006 RSX-S, I had a hard think about the GTI, the 2006 SI, and the Mazdaspeed 3.

    This bracket is a really, really difficult choice. But I don’t place the Evo or the STI -in- this bracket. They’re off on their own.

    I (personally) value the interior (sound-system and general feel) and, above all, the handling of a car. I like tight suspensions, so tight that I can tell what road I’m on by feeling its texture. I like responsive, injected-into-the-brain driving, and will probably buy an M-roadster (or an Elise…) for the weekends before too long.

    The point of all that is, apart from the (now-discontinued) Acura RSX-S, none of the other cars in this daily-drivers-that-are-fun bracket give me that level of… connection. The question I wanted answered by this review was, how much is MS3 going to talk to you?

    Perhaps, Lyn, given the long preamble, you can answer… should I have waited for the MS3, or was the (last of the) RSX-Ss a good move?

  • avatar
    Lyn Vogel

    seldomawake:

    Well, I’m not certain I can answer to your satisfaction (and I would not wish to give you any doubts with regard to your Acura purchase). Driving enjoyment is provided by so much more than numbers. And what speaks to me may leave you cold.

    All that being said, I found the ‘Speed 3 to be a very, very compelling enthusiast’s ride for two reasons: terrific power/torque; and confident, confidence-building handling. That it’s also stupid inexpensive just makes the thing all the more sweet.

  • avatar
    ClutchSlip

    Kudos to Mazda for bringing this machine to the market. The standard Mazda3 is also a fantastic car for the price. The apparent intention is to be the “Japanese BMW,” and I would say that they are succeeding quite handily. I hope that this approach pans out for Mazda (and indirectly Ford).

    I’ve asked myself whether I’d prefer a Mazda6 (or even MAzdaspeed6) over the comparable offerings by Toyota and Honda. I always find myself much more interested in Mazda’s offerings.

    I am looking forward to seeing more well-designed, high-value cars coming from Mazda in the future.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Lyn,

    Don’t worry about giving me doubts :) I -love- the RSX-S, and I’m sure that I’ll love the Elise/M-roadster even more.

    And what speaks to me may leave you cold.

    That’s the core of the problem, as I see it.

    Either way, I enjoyed your review, and you may have just convinced me to visit my local Mazda dealer and have a chat :)

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    NICKNICK, you got me. I way over-simplified the handling limitations of the Mk IV GTI when I blamed the twist-beam rear-end. The fact of the matter is the car plows more then a Mack CL703 with a v-wing snow blade. Turn AND brake at the same time and discover what the US has been missing in tri-wheel car performance.

    Really, I don’t intend to disparage the Mk IV Golf as much as I want to demonstrate that the lack of on-track success is not a direct corollary to showroom success. The lack of AWD or RWD and the limiting of power in 1st and 2nd gears will certainly hurt the on-track performance of the Mazdaspeed3.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Ed S.–
    I am quite aware of the handling limitations of the Mark IV–I just don’t see how a more complicated rear suspension would help it. I’m betting that it could still get a wheel in the air if it was fitted with the Mark V rear suspension.

    It’s a decent car for the road when doing things appropraite for public roads, but yeah, it’s not exactly a track day weapon.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I would buy (at least) one of these in a second if I could squeeze into it. You can nitpick here or there, but the inherent goodness of this package is too hard to overlook.

    Even the non-Speed Mazda’s have something in their DNA that makes them good choices for for people who like to drive. Funny how little of that crosses over to Ford when they build Fusions, etc. from components they share with Mazda.

  • avatar

    >>Plymouth’s fastback was an effort to sex-up their Valiant sedan with the equivalent of a low-cut party dress. Trouble was, the girl underneath was someone you could only really appreciate for her personality.

    I had a very happily married friend in the early ’90s who had one of these as a daily driver. Women were constantly hitting on him. He kept telling me I should get one.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    As the owner of an ’04 Mazda 3 (hatchback, manual transmission), I applaud Mazda for creating a super-high performance version of an already great car.

    I believe the decision to leave the 4WD/AWD system off of the MS3 was a good one. The reason cars like the WRX and the Evo have those system is because they’re homolgation models for rallying. In the on-pavement real world, 4WD/AWD does not confer any handling advantage in dry weather.
    The weight, cost and complexity of a such a drivetrain would have far outweighed the benefits.

    The 18″ wheels were probably a mistake from a purist point of view, but were probably necessary for marketing purposes. In a perfect world, Mazda would have widened the regular Mazda3 wheels by 1/2 to 1 inch and fitted 225/45-17 tires.

    As for you nitpickers (interior plastics, color choices), try to remember that this car has performance roughly comparable to a BMW E36 M3 (about $35k in 1996 dollars) for $23k in 2006 dollars with the added benefits of high-20s MPG, Japanese reliability and a versatile roomy cabin. Stay focused on the big picture!

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Let’s see: 5-door utility? Funky looks? Godawful amounts of torque channelled through the front wheels? Limited run? Fast as hell in daily driving?

    Sounds like it’s 1986 again, with a Dodge Shelby GLH-S

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I thought the MINI, among other cars (including my 06 SI), has quelled the notion that FWD was a “big” disadvantage at the track.

    As for power being limited in 1st and 2nd being a negative…if it allows the maximum amount of power to be put down effectively, then doesn’t it maximize track performance?

    We could argue all day about the removal of the driver from that equation though.

    As someone with half the maximum torque of the MS3 (my car puts down 139 ft/lbs) I can say that I’d rather be able to overwhelm the tires at any point and learn how to control it than never be able to break traction.

    Just my point of view.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    a_d_y_a

    I read an interview of the guys behind the Mazdaspeed division. They were asked why they kept out AWD from the speed3. They were very quick to respond that they needed to distinguish the speed6 and speed3 and hence no AWD for the 3.

    So it wasnt economy or parasitic driveline loss or technology. It was marketing.

    Damn.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Was wondering when a Speed3 review was going to grace this site!

    First, I’m a very satisfied owner of an ’06 Mazda3 5 door with manual trans. I got out of a pretty modded MKIV GTI VR6 to get into the Mazda.

    The test drive is what sold me. The stock Mazda3 handled far better than the modified suspension of the GTI, and was fast enough to keep things interesting. The fact that there were passenger doors and – even better – passenger room for adults in the back was enough to seal the deal.

    Yes, the interior in the Mazda is nice, but isn’t as nice as the VW. But I also found that the soft layer of interior plastics in the VW scratched and peeled over the years, making it look horrible. Don’t even get me started about all the squeaks and rattles.

    Bottom line, for $17K I don’t think I could have bought a better new car in the world.

    Kudos to Mazda for bringing the Speed3 into the world. The only question I have is the same as has been asked for the normally aspirated car I own – can they build enough of them to meet the demand?

  • avatar
    tms1999

    You are all right. This is an incredible value at ~23K. The only thing that stands between you and a Mazdaspeed3 at that price is a greedy dealership salesperson with a very limited initial supply.

    One of the dealership in may area (in Vancouver, WA) will be happy to secure one he does not have yet for “less than $10,000 over MSRP”. If I had 33G, I’d probably buy a 350Z or ante up to a G35 …

    Another on in Portland was not really willing to talk about it unless I meet face to face (I know what that mean, I’m not a sucker) but they have a Mazdaspeed6 for 3,500 under MSRP. That’s ~23,000. And they pay title and registration fees. And they have more than one in stock. And in black too. And it has AWD…

    Mazda’s products are in a kind of weird state. The mazda3 sells very well, always without incentive. The 6 is another story. Even the mazdaspeed6. However, people are not too keen on the 6, bringing the price down. Meeting the 3 right there… weird.

    In the end, I’m buying nothing, my current car is paid for and I’m finding myself in the “omg, I’m actually rich” mode and never willing to buy another car again.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    You guys are complaining about 18″ wheels?

    Do you know how much of a handling advantage those wheels give a car like this?

    Also — I think the computer only retards power depending upon how much the wheel is turned. Which is pretty smart, since the real problem with powerful front-drivers is torque-steer.

    Apparently, and I am chomping at the bit for a tester, Mazda has taken that out of the equation.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    IIRC, this car is built on the C-1 platform used for the European Ford Focus and the Volvo S40. Too bad Ford couldn’t figure out how to build one in the US.

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    From a press release on the FoMoCo website:

    “Under the watchful eye of an advanced powertrain control module (PCM), the waste-gate bleeds off excess boost to control the torque spikes in first and second gear that would result in wheel spin, providing full boost only in third gear and above.”

    If the decrease in power was only in response to wheel slip or turning angle we would call it traction control. This is an arbitrary level of decreased power preprogrammed by Mazda engineers. This does not maximize power because it is an arbitrary decrease in power and not elated to the actual available traction. If I install wider tires or DOT race tires I will not be maximizing performance because I will not be transfering the maximum possible torque to the ground.

    With that said, many automakers have employed similar ECU programing to limit power. VW does this accross the rev range and for all gears on the Mk IV GTI 1.8 & the Mk V GTI. That’s why it is possible to bump power by 40% with a $600 chip.

  • avatar
    cretinx

    FWD on this car saved weight – remember, the AWD MazdaSpeed 6 with the same engine weighs in around 3700 lbs – this is a mere 3100 lbs (still ridiculous for a small car . . . . but better nonetheless).

  • avatar
    Hutton

    For what its worth, AWD drive adds 186 lbs and $600 to the Volvo S40 T5.

    They could make up some of that weight with lighter wheels and an aluminum hood and roof, and probably still keep the whole thing under $25k.

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    They could make up some of that weight with lighter wheels and an aluminum hood and roof, and probably still keep the whole thing under $25k – Hutton

    It would be nice if Mazda continues development of the model. Maybe they could offer a Club Spec-esq model that is the sedan body, with the Volvo’s AWD, and no options that don’t make the car go faster except AC, and power windows and doors. The new MX-6 uses aluminum for the hood and trunk so there is precedence for that weight-saving approach. I’d take one (or two!).

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    When I was looking for a new car back in 2004, I test drove a Mazda3, a Mazda6s, and an RX8 among others. I went in really looking at the Mazda6s or RX8 as a potential new car, but decided to test drive a Mazda3 while I was at it. Wow, what a nice little car. Great interior room for it’s size, good handling, and a peppy enough engine. I ended up buying a Mazda6s anyway, but that test drive with my wife, really got her interested in a Mazda3 as her next car. When we heard they were making a Mazdaspeed3, we knew that we would have to check that out. I can hardly wait to test drive one with my wife. Hmm, maybe I can sell her on a slightly used Mazda6s as the best car for her…. Probably not.

  • avatar
    alanp

    I considered the Mazda3 5 door last spring when I went out to replace my 2002 WRX wagon. Just didn’t make it with the power and FWD after having AWD and a turbo. So I got the 2006 WRX wagon, which has basically the same power as the new MS3 (the WRX 2.5 turbo is if anything UNDERATED), the 17″ wheels and AWD which I find very nice when it is needed. And at $22,500 out the door it was even well priced. Now IF the MS3 had been available at the same price it might have been a possibility, but the lack of torque steer and so forth might well have kept me in the Subaru camp anyway.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    “You guys are complaining about 18″ wheels?”

    Well, in the buying a car 101, everyone should learn to do their homework. By not only considering the cost of purchase, but also the cost of ownership, like interest paid if you finance, cost of regular maintenance, tires, brakes, factor in lenght of warranty vs. how long you plan to keep the car.

    Then there is mileage related on how much driving you plan to do. Average cost of repairs, known weakness of components…

    And finally get a quote from your insurance. Or maybe from more than one.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Johnny Lieberman wrote:

    “You guys are complaining about 18″ wheels?

    Do you know how much of a handling advantage those wheels give a car like this?”
    ……………………………………………………………………………….
    I don’t know if the bigger wheels/tires give the MS3 *any* real advantage over the regular 3.

    According to caranddriver.com, they both pull .87g on the skidpad and only differ in 70-0 braking by 2 feet. I suspect the shorter sidewalls of the 18-inchers improve initial steering response, but the 3S already has that in spades.

    One reason I suggested the 225/45-17 size is that BMW uses it on the 3-Series. Given that the Mazda 3 is about the same size and weight, it should work equally well (Plus there are a *ton* more tire options in that size than either a 205/50-17 or a 215/45-18). I would make such a substitution on my own Mazda 3, but the stock wheels are too narrow to fit 225mm tires.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    Be careful about downsizing wheels. A few guys on the Miata forums were trying to put smaller 16″ wheels from a base Miata on their Mazdaspeed Miatas for AutoX, and reported that it messed up the handling. At the same time, many people reported putting the MS wheels on a regular Miata did the same. Go figure. Apparently MS tuned and tweaked the suspension pretty well just for the stock wheels. It may be a different story for the 3, but I’d do some research on the forums to see if someone else got good results for the swap before spending any money on it.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I have yet to drive a car where there was any appreciable difference between 17″ and 18″. From 15 to 16, huge improvement. 16 to 17, modest improvement. But the 17 to 18 jump just never really sold me. Again, I still believe in larger wheels primarily as a means to clear large brakes. From the pics, I think this car could go down to 16″ rims. Not that I would do that, visually. Further, 17″ is simply the best compromise between everything–weight, wheel cost, tire cost, potential damage, ride, handling, etc.

    As a friend always points out, “F1 cars all have high-profile tires” (yes, apples and oranges, but it’s still funny)

  • avatar

    I have to admit, I doubt they kept AWD off this model for purely marketing reasons, whatever they may be.

    The Mazdaspeed6 sold so poorly that I think they’d be willing to throw whatever they can to get this one to sell well.

    I’m very curious, though, Lyn, is the clutch as grabby as the clutch in the Mazdaspeed6? That clutch is a beast.

    And I am equally curious about the dynos. After I bought my Mazdaspeed 6, I hit the aftermarket circuit for parts, of which there are TWO, and was utterly blown away by absurd numbers from AEM’s dyno sheets. An intake, JUST the intake, saw 29.9 hp it 6200 rpm. What?!?

    Also of note was the horrid baseline of only slightly over 200hp. 74 horsepower driveline loss?! That doesn’t make any sense! I should point out that even Mazda’s brochure shows something very interesting, that there is a notation next to the 274hp spec that states, and I quote, “Use of gasoline lower than 93 octane can decrease performance and peak horsepower.” The whole situation seems fishy to me, such as the debacle associated with the RX-8′s promised horsepower.

    The torque was well within expectations, but saw an equally zonky 25.3 lb-ft increase at 6200 rpm. What the hell is up with this? The numbers were so insane I actually didn’t believe them until other companies started seeing the same things. I can only assume the engine is purposely restricted. But why? Is Mazda trying to nurture an aftermarket? Are they trying to sell their own (expensive) after market items?

    Also, 200hp to the wheels? How did Road & Track get a 0-60 of 5.4 seconds? I’ve driven cars with numbers like that, my MS6 is faster. It’s all very weird.

  • avatar
    Humourless

    You guys are complaining about 18″ wheels?

    Do you know how much of a handling advantage those wheels give a car like this?

    Little or none. Unless the MS3 has a forged or similarly constructed lightweight wheel, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

    It’s not the size of the wheels that contribute to crispness of handling so much as the composition, sidewall and width of the tire. All other things being equal there is no particular advantage to running, say, 215/45-18 over 215/45-17 – unless bling or maximum brake clearance are primary concerns. Since the front discs are under 13″, there should be plenty of clearance in a 17″ rim.

    Instead (aside from the aforementioned cost factors), choosing an 18″ over an equivalent 17″ rim will lead to increased weight, increased likelihood of damage from potholes and curbing, adversely affect ride compliance, and even potentially harm acceleration.

    Only slightly tongue in cheek, I’d suggest Mazda would have accomplished more (and trimmed costs to boot) by keeping the ordinary Mazda3 5-spoke rims and simply fitting them with the same brand of 215/45 tires in 17″ fitment. The resulting ride height would be less than 1/4″ lower and the overall wheel and tire diameter would be only 11.5mm less (a paltry 7/16 of an inch). I wouldn’t be surprised if many people out there are already running that particular fitment on a standard Mazda3 without any issues.

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    Do you know how much of a handling advantage those wheels give a car like this?

    Well, I do know what more unsprung weight does to handling…so I suppose one could do the math.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Education time Jonny. The diameter of the wheel does not improve your contact patch nearly as much as the width. Run some 15 or 16-in. 225/50s on there and you will get better grip than 18-in. wheels and you have a lighter wheel as well.

    Secondly, larger diameter wheels negatively affect ride quality. The larger the diameter, the harsher the ride.

    Hell, I am running 14-in. 225/50s on my 1972 240z. My wheels weigh 10 lbs…..yes, 10 lbs….and they measure 7 inches across. You can have your blinging 18-in. wheels, but all they add is weight.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    They add weight, but they also add weight in all the wrong places. We all know about unsprung weight, that is just part of it. On the dyno, a car with 16 inch wheels will show more horsepower than the same car with 17 inch or 18 inch wheels EVEN IF THEY WEIGH THE SAME.

    Why? That weight is located further from the axis. Think of a lever and put the same amount of weight further and further away from the fulcrum and it takes more and more effort to move. Or, think of swinging a bat with a 5 pound weight just at the top of the grip. Pretty easy. Now move that weight to the tip of the bat. Not so easy.

    The relatively heavy ‘rim’ of the wheel is the mass that moves further from the center axis (fulcrum). Getting that mass to accelerate (or decellerate) is harder when it moves further away from the axis. I think they call it ‘moment of inertia’, but I slept through college physics.

    I drove a friend’s Escalade with 26 inch rims and was appalled at how it changed the dynamics. Braking was MUCH worse, as was accelleration. I’m sure the rims weighed more, but it was only part of the story.

    We’re off on a tangent here, but 18 inch wheels don’t help the MS3 handle any better. They are just an effective marketing tool to appeal to wanna-be NOPI kids that ‘tune’ clapped out Hondas by fitting coffee-can diameter exhaust tips. Now that some of those kids have graduated and have ‘real’ jobs, the MazdaSpeed 3 appeals to their, er, sensibilities.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I read an interview of the guys behind the Mazdaspeed division. They were asked why they kept out AWD from the speed3. They were very quick to respond that they needed to distinguish the speed6 and speed3 and hence no AWD for the 3.

    What they didn’t mention was how abyssmal Mazda’s AWD system was. To even call it AWD is being generous. It didn’t use a transfer case, instead relying on a power take-off to transfer torque to the rear when needed. Under normal driving conditions (i.e. when not trying to launch the car from a standstill), the front/rear torque split was 100/0.

    As it stands, the MS3 is a good car, and I don’t think it needs AWD. It’s able to hold its own against the WRX, the GTi, the Civic Si, and I’m sure when the Caliber SRT-4 arrives, it’ll hold its own against that as well.

  • avatar

    I dunno’. I’ve found the AWD on the MS6 to be good. Launch is when it helps the most, but it’s far from absent in turns. It is absent when just driving, which isn’t the most desireable, but when I’ve wanted it, it’s been there.

    I’ve had the front wheels break loose and the rear wheels almost immediately catch on many, many occasions. Only one emergency situation, the rest of them have all been very intentional.

    It’s sudden, so the tail gets a bit squirrelly, but I’ve been able to carve about the road with total abandon. It’s not as good as Quattro, but it’s still much better than FWD alone.

    It’s far from abysmal.

  • avatar
    Lyn Vogel

    aaronmc: “I’m very curious, though, Lyn, is the clutch as grabby as the clutch in the Mazdaspeed6? That clutch is a beast.”

    Well, even though I’ve driven that car, I can’t remember its clutch being good, bad, or indifferent. However, the ‘Speed3′s is…okay. There’s quite a bit of takeup before it grabs. In short, not the best clutch I’ve experienced, but hardly a dealbreaker.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    I agree with everyone’s comments on the inferiority of the 18″ wheels from a handling perspective. The only functional reason to warrant them would be if the MS3′s massive brakes didn’t clear a 17″ wheel, but I highly doubt that.

    BTW…Speed Racer drove a Mach 5. The Mark V was just the coolest Lincoln land yacht of the late 70s.

  • avatar
    sching

    As someone who actually owns a Mazdaspeed 3 – or Mazda 3 MPS, as it is known outside of North America – I can draw on actual experience to state the following:

    1. Yes, the car shows its economy car roots much more than the Golf GTI does, but the overall effect is actually not half bad, especially when compared to lesser Mazda 3s (“Threes”?).
    2. The engine is worth the price of admission alone (more on the price below). The torque is especially fun, especially in an urban environment like Hong Kong, where I live. Even electronically limited as it is by the wastegate in the first two gears, this car truly can go like the proverbial bat out of hell.
    3. The 18-inchers that so many have commented on above are indeed the heavy OEM types rather than light forged ones. Nevertheless, the ride is still more than acceptable for day-to-day use. How much of a difference lighter and/or smaller wheels would make to the handling and ride will only be answered if and when I get around to replacing these things.
    4. The price here was the clincher. In Hong Kong, the MS3 is 11% cheaper than the Golf GTI, with 30% more HP and 38% more torque and a whopping 45% cheaper than the Golf R32 – and it can still whip the pants off the latter car! The only thing I wish the MS3 had was a DSG/S-tronic equivalent.

    All in all, I’m very happy with my little pocket rocket…

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Dang… I saw two MS3′s today. Both red, both within a 1/4 mile of each other, this evening, here in Austin.

    The one guy who was in front of me immediately recognized my car as it was beginning to cloud his mirrors… he tromped on the go pedal (I saw a puff of rich black smoke) and zoom-zoomed for that 75 yards to the next bit of clog that is Interstate 35.

  • avatar
    hameracing

    I was psyched as well as discouraged to find this site last week. Psyched because I love cars. This site seems to have good reviews and the comments I’ve seen so far show that most of the folks on here actually know something about cars. I was discouraged because I now have another “good” reason to waste time looking at car stuff online.

    Yesterday I took delivery on the first MS3 in Colorado- a black mica GT- and I thought I’d share my initial comments after my first 80 miles or so driving it. First, I should mention that I’ve been driving 2002 S4 Avant for the last year. That car, while wonderful, was beginning to show signs- dollar signs that is, and they were coming fast in the form of numerous required maintenance expenses.

    Black mica is probably the best color offered for this car. It’s a really attractive black that has flecks of gold, blue, silver and purple. It’s a conservative color and further enhances the sleeper styling of the car. The paint quality was fantastic- much better than most sub $30K cars, and because it’s not a deep black, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep it clean.

    A lot has been said about the wheels on this car. I can say that they look great on the car. That’s not to say 17s would look bad. The Bridgestone Potenza RE050As that come standard are summer tires, and that’s fine if you live in the south. But Colorado tends to get a lot of snow, and unless I can find some minus-1 wheels and tires that fit and that won’t break the bank or the suspension, I plan on only driving this car on nice days (no biggie- the Colorado Front Range gets 300+ days of sunshine per year). These Potenzas generate a fair amount of road noise though it wasn’t as annoying as in the MS6s I test drove (I’m sure there are other variables involved as well). The thinner sidewall does create a harsher ride over the lumpy Denver streets, but I’m sure I’ll get used to that. The S4 had 225/45/17s and that car felt smooth compared to the MS3. What the tires and wheels do provide is a great steering feedback and a usually tenacious grip. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face when I hit my first series of sweepers last night. The car inspires confidence on smooth roads. Once the going gets rough- either with rough pavement, tramlines, or even seams in the asphalt, the challenges of torque steer start to become evident. While managed adequately, it’s still there. Even in 3rd, the wheel tends to want to pull out of your hands if you’re not careful. After having enjoyed Quattro for the last two years, I have grown to love all wheel drive and was disappointed to part with it, but with some practice, it will be possible to learn to drive the MS3 quickly and safely.

    The engine in this car is amazing. There’s very little lag, and it eagerly revs with no harshness or vibration. It’s powerful and makes this car a blast to drive fast. I’m strongly considering a Valentine One to help keep me out of trouble.

    My only real complaint is with the so-called Bose stereo system. My S4 had a true Bose system that had amazing balance, sound reproduction and power. It sounds as if it were truly made for that car. In the case of the MS3, I suspect that the Bose relationship was designed more for marketing reasons than for producing pleasing music that audiophiles will approve of. I realize I am jaded now, but over time I’ll start to get used to the inferior system. It is after all only a $25K car.

  • avatar
    alfaromeo164q

    Hello all… I also just took delivery on an ’07 Cosmic Blue MS3…. I’ve been driving an ’03 Infiniti G35 Coupe for about a year and have grown tired of having to lift the back seat forward to get the kids in the back… when I saw an article about the MS3 earlier in June and thought hmmmmmm… that looks interesting… I’ve always liked Mazda… The only japanese maker that consitently puts out interesting cars…. I’ve owned a Millenia S and very seriously considered both an RX-7 Turbo (no f-ing back seat!!) and the RX-8(one of the best handling cars I’ve ever driven but too many problems for a japanese car)

    So I wandered into my local Mazdaspeed dealer…(what’s the deal with that??? just sell the damn things in every dealership would ya??) and took one of the two MS3′s they had left for a ride…. Driving the MS3 is a pleasure… crisp as an arctic day handling… power the just keeps coming… precise steering… brakes that could stop a Mac Truck in it’s tracks…

    It’s been kind of a tough transition to go from a luxury sport coupe to a muscle econobox wagon but I think given time I will adjust with a smile….

    some initial drawbacks I have noticed… as hamerracing states above the “high end” stock stereo is a peice of crap…. it’s just barley acceptable… it sounds good when you first listen to it on the test drive but soon after it’s limitations become painfully obvious… little or no real bass.. a tinny sound…. and you would never know there are speakers in the back becuase you can’t hear them… Mazda has been a pioneeer in getting good stock stereo’s in their special production vehciles, ie;Mazda Protoge MP3 and the Mazdaspeed Protoge…. I excpected the same from them in the MS3 and was sadly disapointed…

    other drawbacks include the lack of automatic up windows(what the hell?? this is 2007!!! all cars should have these)….. no sunroof…. an at times notchy gearshifter… getting into 5th requires way too much effort… and if you don’t push over hard to the right when you go to 6th you’ll find yourself in 4th…. the rear seats can’t fold down all the way with the headrests on??!!!?? why didn’t they put a little more thought into this??? it’s a wagon for god’s sake these things should come easy….

    wow… it sounds like I’m bitching… well.. I guess I am.. but you must take the good with the bad… the reality of it is that I can’t wait to get home and go out and eat some BMW’s for a light snack out on the highway…. this car is FUN!!!

    as for the FWD configuration… well while i was waiting for the paperwork to go through the salesman threw me the smartkey to an ’07 Mazdaspeed 6…. I took it on the same route as I had driven the 3, one with some nice big sweepers and some tight thrashers as well… Driving the 6 was how you say???…ummmmm BORING… the thing plowed through the corners like a combine in a corn patch…. there was a noticable lag in the turbo.. the acceleration seemed lackluster at best… I would never have left my G35 for the Speed 6…. AWD is not always superior in handling to FWD… nothing will ever be as good as RWD for the “purist.” But I think once you learn how to drive the MS3 at it’s limit you could learn to love FWD for it’s ownself…. Just don’t forget that when traibraking the MS3 you must be VERY careful and smooth otherwise you will end up ass over tea kettle… the weight distribution on the Speed 3 is much different than a car with AWD…..

    go buy one!!! they’re a blast….

    T

  • avatar
    VAspeed3

    I’ve had my new blue MS3 now for 5 days. My neighbor, a day after returning from a Posche Club track weekend at Virginia international Raceway with his Boxter S, was quite floored by the MS3′s performance when he drove it this afternoon.

    Although we were not operating much past 6 or 7/10 at any point, he thought it felt faster than his Boxter and found it remarkable in turns when pushed to the point where he thought I should easily dust off a lot of older 911′s at the track.

    Mine is only the second one sold by one of the two ‘Speed dealers in my city, so there are not many of these out on the street yet, much less the track. Does anyone out there have some 8/10 or 9/10 driving impressions for this car?

    BTW, Alfa: my wife noticed the deficiencies of the stereo over the weekend, but I barely use it, so I dont care much.

    VAspeed3

  • avatar
    Toxie2725

    srt-4 for 2007. Good stuff.

  • avatar
    NewSpeed3

    I’ve had my Speed 3 for about a month and a half and 1500 miles. I had my 04 SRT-4 for 2 years and 36000 miles, before a driver who had her license for all of 2 weeks thought she could make it left in front of me, when I was about a car length away, at 40 MPH. SRT=totaled. Picked up the MS3 because, like the SRT-4 was, it is the best bang for the buck out there. No exceptions. I find it silly to compare amenities like the stereo or interior, or road noise to cars that cost a whole lot more, and perform a whole lot less. Performance is the name of the game with this thing, and (like the SRT-4) this car outperforms so many cars that cost so much more. If you have the inclination, buy one before they are gone. You can waste your $$ to get a smooth interior and sweet sound system, you’ll be comfortable as you see my tail-lights disappearing over the horizon. Great real world daily driver, with a little tweaking it’ll be a mean track car, and a great value.

  • avatar
    lpt1485

    The engine in this car is very interesting. It injects the fuel @ 1600 psi, and it apparently changes the state of the gas which results in cooling the engine 50-70 degrees fehrenheit.
    Also, adding the intake and cat-back exhaust from mazda ( and im sure any other after market supplier), and you are guaranteed 30 whp?!! That is crazy, this car is crazy and I want one.

    The average car injects fuel @ 43 psi.

    Correct me if Im wrong on any if not all of this, because I am not definitely sure. I just drank a cup of high test coffee and well….all hell is breaking looks, specifically on my fingers.

  • avatar
    floatingspirit

    Current owner here: I went from my second Honda Civic LX to a Speed3. As Austin Powers would say: “Yeah Baby!” First time driving it I noticed 2 things: the Speed3′s speedometer had 40mph where 0mph was on the Civic! LOL! I can just see it, “Sorry Officer…” Secondly, in 2nd gear the front end seems to lift up vertically as if the car is about to fly up into the sky (it sort of feels that way)!

    All the technical debate aside, this car goes good, looks good, and makes me feel good! What more can a guy ask for? As a poor man, I feel like I’m driving a BMW or some similarly “classy” or expensive car, albeit possilby because I don’t know what such a car feels like. (I have driven a couple 3 series though, which is what awoke the driver in me).

    As for the sound system, I didn’t even use it for the first month because I loved the engine purr so much! That’s what I call a sound system :)

    On the negative side, 50% of my decision to get a car is based on the ease/comfort of the manual transmission. As Lyn said, it’s not a deal breaker here, but I did make a concession in this area. It takes some getting used to. The other was the development of a squeak. Bear with me now, this is not nit-picking. After about a month, with every jolt, bounce or bump the most high pitched, annoying little squeak would sound off loud and painfully clear. When you think you’re Mr. Cool in this “wee little beast”, it is quite embarrassing when conveying a passenger. They kind of look at you funny, like “You poser!”. The good news is that I noticed that when I unlatch my seatbelt the squeak goes away. However, as the vehicle operator, this work-around presents it’s own problems.

    Hey, it’ll go away or something. I otherwise LOVE THIS CAR. Dudes try to drag race with me, kids gawk at the shiny red, and I can take it to work and nobody will think I’m some speed junky or tripin’ tuner head. Thanks for everyone sharing their insights.

    http://web.mac.com/seanduke/iWeb/Mazdaspeed3/Mazdaspeed3.html

  • avatar
    Gareth

    I got one of these a month ago and so far I love it. My last car was…a 2001 996 911 Twin Turbo. Before that, a 1999 911 C4, before that a 1986 911 C2. OK, so I had daily driver cars too. This just might cure my need for a 2nd P-car. Torque Steer is yummy, mash the gas and hang on! I bought mine in January and immediately put 16″ snow rims on it. I learned that lesson in the C4, 18″ low profile tires and snow don’t mix. This week the 18″ rims are going back on. I love the unrefined turbo lag and over the top torque. The 911TT was too easy to drive compared to this. I have minor quibbles but hey for $25k you can’t go wrong. It’s a gokart, treat it like one! Have fun

  • avatar
    azasadny

    I bought my Mica Black 2007 MazdaSpeed3 with Sport Pkg on 2/19 and have put 1400 miles on it so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed the car! The MS3 is just as much fun to drive as my ’74 Porsche 911 and it’s very practical as it’s a 5dr hatchback. I put a MazdaSpeed bra on the front to prevent the inevitable rock chips and I debadged the car and installed a V1 radar detector, but that’s all I’ve done. This car is fast, handles like a go-cart and provides more smiles per mile than just about any other car I’ve ever driven. I’m getting 30mpg and I only run premium fuel (93 octane). I’ll put AMSOIL 5X20 synthetic oil in at my 1st oil change. The insurance costs for car are very reasonable due to the 5dr and crash ratings, so it’s practical and fun, what a great combo!!

  • avatar
    wbrproductions

    You bastards. I was blissfully ignorant of this ride until I stumbled my way to this review. I’ve got an 02 P5 that I *thought* I loved until I read these reviews; now its a stale cracker.

    Now waiting for one of you to have the 3rd kid that won’t fit into the car, so you have to sell it to me. Damn, and I thought my next ride was gonna be a diesel.

  • avatar
    a4b5

    I purchased a Speed3 Grand Touring in March of this year. I truly thought I had found the ideal car for my needs: practical, somewhat economical, affordable, fun to drive, and not German (ask me about my 2004 Audi $4 … oops, I mean S4). After an initial month or so of pure bliss, reality started to hit. While fast and fun to drive, this is a hard car to live with on a day to day basis. Combine the stiff suspension with the 18″ wheels, a short wheel base and the pot holes that are everywhere in Minnesota and you get a punishing ride.

    Given all of the above, it also becomes evident that the car is based on an economy platform with the rattles, tinny thunking noises, etc. Did I expect that? Somewhat. But it has proven to be a difficult adjustment coming from the Audi / VW world.

    I know you can’t get it all at the price point that they have placed this car, and they’ve done a good job of maximizing the performance to dollar ratio, so I have to give Mazda credit for that. But it comes at the cost of just about everything else.

    My wife probably put it best when describing her take on the car: “I feel like I’m driving my son’s car”. Keep in mind that my son is 3 years old…

  • avatar
    VAspeed3

    “”Given all of the above, it also becomes evident that the car is based on an economy platform with the rattles, tinny thunking noises, etc. Did I expect that? Somewhat. But it has proven to be a difficult adjustment coming from the Audi / VW world.””

    Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll have 29,000 miles on my MS3 by the end of this week, and I only have a squeak or rattle when I hit a pothole or maybe a really bad pavement joint on the Interstate at 70MPH — you know, the kind that slams the car so hard your loose change jumps out of the slot in the console next to the shifter.
    Otherwise, mine is pretty much perfect so far.
    Yes, the ride is a bit stiffer than most people would like, but I’m not most people. The 3 has one of the most solid chassis in the compact car group according to everyting I’ve read, which is considerable. Your Audi/VW rode better because it is either heavier or more squishy.

  • avatar
    westhighgoalie

    I don’t care how good this car is… There is NO WAY IT IS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AS THE WRX STI…

    I am sure this car is quick, nimble and fun, but lets not compare apples to elephants here people!

    I have seen stock STI’s do the 0-60 run in just 4.92 seconds. That means the speed 3 is almost a full second SLOWER!

    and as far as cornering goes, the sti will DESTROY IT…

    but perhaps you could more logically compare it to it’s competition… i.e- Volks Waggon

  • avatar
    lpt1485

    westhighgoalie,
    Your right, stock for stock the sti would probably triumph in every category tested against the ms3. But, I would not be so quick to write this car off. A ms3 with an intake, downpipe, and cat back exhaust is a formidable beast. Not to mention if one opts for the mazdaspeed suspension components. I think this car, with these 4 improvements would be a close match to your sti. Not to mention it would be considerably less expensive, and more practical with nicer amenities like navigation leather seats and all that jazz.

  • avatar

    yeah its true that with some perfomance stuff on my speed 3 that it will eat an sti or an evo forck b-l-@dinner but all those parts just voided my seven year warranty, that i why i am thinking of buying a 2008 evo x for 10,000 more you get awd and its already close to 300 hp and torque and if anything happens its covered. and i can still change the bov or intake and switch them if its got to go back to the shop for repairs,thats why i dont know if i should keep my speed 3 or sell it yeah its fun and all but piece of mind to me is better when i dont have to shell out for a repair bill. and the evo stereo is 650 watts compared to 222 if your an engine junky thats fine to but i love cruisn to loud music and i wouldnt have to buy a speaker box and amps and all that crap to fill up the trunk.

  • avatar
    johnf514

    westhighgoalie – recall that a Mazdaspeed3 costs $23K. A WRX STi is $33K.

  • avatar
    kerry Jonker

    I have had my MazdaSpeed 3 since September of 2007. No matter what you think it should be, it is what it is and it is defiantly me. It’s not as refined as my BMW’s ride or feel, but my BMW never made me do what this car does. Yes folks the gas pedal talks to your foot and between the two of them and a curvy road, you get in trouble with a smile on your face. I am 48 years old and haven’t had a ticket in five years; I got one after a month of owning this car. If you get stopped in a MazdaSpeed 3, that cop is not just going to let you off with just a “try to slow down” warning. He looks at the name badge on the trunk and has you pegged (just prey you were only starting to get on it). This car is not a Bugatti Veyron or a Honda Fit. But it is my slice of heaven on the drive home after taxing my brain engineering utility poles all day. Sure honey, I will pick up the milk!

  • avatar
    L.HOWE

    Hello All,
    I purchased a 2008 metropolitan gray mica ms3 this week with the leather suede gt package. I love the accelaration. It sops on a dime. And it will take me sometime to figure out all the bells and whistles. I joined this website because it looks like a good website to get honest info on this car from people who have it. I will be driving this car as an everyday car. I had a 2004 RX-8 that spent most of the time in the my garage. And I drove a 2002 Neon as my everyday car (yes a Neon!).I sold both cars and got this. I have a 6 yr warranty on it, but i am concerned about reliability. Im 42 years old and i wont be driving this like it’s raceday everyday. Also i live in Pennsylvania and i want to get info on rims and snow tires. I have the tire pressure sensor in them and i dont know much about how it works, like can i downsize the rim and still have it work correctly.
    I love this car even if im know by the oldest tuner boy by my coworkers.
    Any info you guys can give me would be great. Also any info on local places i can get upgrades or accesories(upgrades after i get comfortable with it) around the Boyertown Pa. area would be fantastic
    Hope to hear from you all!!
    Thanks
    L.Howe

  • avatar
    floatingspirit

    Yo, L Howe.

    Check out Yahoo groups. Just search for the Mazadaspeed3 or Speed3

    Peace

  • avatar
    mazdaspeedster

    There are a few things I would like to clear up in regards to the MS3. 1) Compare insurance prices with a MS3 and then ask about the EVO or the STI. 2)I also personally know 2 people who have had Mitsubishi denie their warranty claim for abnormal use and 1 STI owner who had the same problem with Subaru, both having better than 5k in repairs done (dealer only). I personally broke the rear half shaft on my MS6 doing donuts in a parking lot in the winter and hit a dry patch. Mazda replaced it and did not say a word. I know own a 08 MS3. 3) Cold air does not void warranty. Niether does a Cat back or a blow off valve. With that, the MS3 is a more economical vehicle with less hassles and a lot less looks from the Police as it is closest to its 156 hp brothern. Oh, and with gas nearing $4 a gal this summer, I will take my MS3 (25mpg avg, recorded) any day!

  • avatar
    rugger930

    Of course, I was thinking about the STI or EVO when I was looking at the MS3. However, when I had looked at the favorable insurance rates, mpg, price and had test driven the MS3, I opted for the MS3. Yes, an STI can most likely beat the MS3 on the track with comparable drivers, but not by much. It would have been formidable if AWD was added along with simple tuning and bolt ons. Subsequently, I actually bought a pristine specimen secondhand from a navy test pilot who hated to see it go. In addition, I drive cars now that have a considerable amount of HP/performance (>500-600 HP) and I’m telling you this for comparison only. But I have almost just as much fun and feel safer with the MS3 than with those other cars. Passing a left lane bandit (safely, I live in socal) in 5th gear is smooth and done with ease. Their look of disbelief occurs coincidingly with their easing of the throttle, realizing they are unable to keep up. And it’s the same with the round abouts; handling is superb and though it does not drift well (fwd), its response is quite neutral, easy to correct and inspiring. It’s one of the best and exhilarating feelings you can have. A true wolf in sheep’s clothing. Highly recommended. Cheers and drive safely, but defensively.


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