Buy/Drive/Burn: Hot Japanese Sport Compacts From 2009
On a recent Buy/Drive/Burn that featured some alternative Japanese compacts from 2008, frequent commenter theflyersfan suggested a second look at the same three cars, but in hotter variants. Today’s the day, and it’s 2009.
Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
Mazda introduced the Mazdaspeed 3 for the 2007 model year, and it continues largely unchanged for its final year in first-gen guise. Produced in Japan at Mazda’s plant in Hofu, all Mazdaspeed 3s are four-door hatchbacks. All examples use the same 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four, an L architecture engine that shares its block with Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost. Two-hundred and sixty-three horses travel to the front wheels via a six-speed manual, which is the only transmission on offer. Today’s trim is the fully loaded Grand Touring, which asks just $24,455 and makes the Mazda a value leader.
Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
The Ralliart is the sportiest, fastest Lancer that does not wear an Evolution badge. Unlike other trims of the standard Lancer, the Ralliart gets more power for 2009. The 2.0-liter inline-four is turbocharged and smaller than the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter found in less sporty trims. Two-hundred and thirty-seven horses travel to all four wheels via the six-speed automatic. Fitting its sporty performance, the Ralliart sedan is considerably more expensive than other Lancer trims, at $26,690.
Subaru Impreza WRX
The current Impreza is in its second year for 2009, and a new turbocharged 2.5-liter engine joins the lineup. Thanks to that engine, the WRX experiences a bump in power over last year; a considerable 41 horses. The power enhancement means a total of 265 horses, which proceed through all four wheels via the six-speed manual transmission. Today’s sedan selection is the WRX Premium, which is a step down from the significantly more expensive STi. WRX asks $27,495.
Three fairly hot compacts, all of which offer much more performance and driving excitement over their standard trims. Which one goes home with you?
[Images: Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru]
Alien1979 on Nov 17, 2021
I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this as I owned both a 2007 Speed3 and later a 2010 Lancer Ralliart Sportback. Buy the Speed3. It was a great car and I cannot say enough good things about that MZR engine. Only reason I sold it is I got a great deal on a manual transmission Mercedes SLK. It did have 3 or 4 things fail on it the first few months I had it, but no issues after that. Drive the Ralliart. I had my Sportback for 48k miles and not one thing went wrong with it. Yes, the DCT was expensive to service, but it was very reliable and fun to drive. I also had the optional Recaros and they were awesome but a bit painful on long trips. Burn the Subie. I know too many people that had issues with those motors.
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