2012 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 new car reviews

The Mazdaspeed3 is a long-time favorite among the staff, enough so that we bought one back in 2008 and have used it as a project car.

Better than: Dodge Omni GLH
But not as good as: Our own 'speed3 project car
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 96.26

Now a bit long in the tooth, the 'speed3 has always impressed us with its turbo four-cylinder and hatchback practicality. It recently received a facelift—rather, a facedroop—that somewhat toned down the super-smiley design language that seems to polarize the faithful.

Smile or no, the Mazdaspeed3 comes to us with plenty of tech options installed and 263 horsepower to drive through its front wheels. Always a bit of a nuisance with these cars is torque steer, but that's because there's just gobs of the stuff: 280 lb.-ft., to be exact, at a usable 3000 rpm.

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Other staff views

Tim Suddard Tim Suddard
Publisher

The MazdaSpeed 3 is an amazing hot hatch. It has near frightening levels of power. It has an excellent chassis with great turn in, amazing cornering grip, and brakes capable of ending the inevitable shenanigans that this engine and chassis encourage with confidence and alacrity.

The gearbox works well. The steering feels great. The interior is comfortable, roomy and well laid out. The car we drove was well equipped with navigation system, power everything and more than adequate stereo system.

If the MazdaSpeed 3 looked and rode just a little bit better, it might be the perfect car. A bit less aggressive tire and wheel package would barely compromise handling and do much for the ride quality, but that front end, that only a mother could love, would be hard to live with through an entire payment book.

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Comments

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triumph7
triumph7 Reader
2/20/12 11:17 p.m.

Tim, I can't really agree. I just got a 2010 Speed3 and absolutely love it... including the ride. OK, my last daily driver was a 2004 Miata but we have commented to each other about just how comfortable this car is. After a weekend trip from Cincy to Detroit we were singing the cars praises. Truth be told, I don't even find it to be that bad looking. The only bad thing I have to say is about fuel economy, I think this car SHOULD be capable of 30+MPG combined where I have been getting around 23 without any loss of power (evidenced by the now black tail pipes).

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
2/21/12 7:32 p.m.

i like the smiley face. i smile right back at it. "you and me are gonna have a fun time, aren't we little car."

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
2/21/12 7:34 p.m.

would you review a skyactiv one too? i'm interested to hear how much of a compromise getting 28city39hwy requires.

keethrax
keethrax HalfDork
2/26/12 1:30 p.m.

triumph: According to my excel spreadsheets, if you eliminate tanks where we hooned about a bunch, we get 30.6mpg real world combined out of our 2008 in the nicer months and 28.something in the winter.

triumph7
triumph7 Reader
2/28/12 12:02 a.m.

So far I've not gotten near that. Best so far were the two tanks on the road trip to Detroit at 25 MPG. All of the 30K maintenance is due so we'll see what happens after that. The Accessport website has a lot of good info on how the OEM fuel map works and gives me a couple ideas on where to look after that.

wemay
wemay None
4/26/12 5:54 p.m.

Best front driver in the class. Rivaling the AWD WRX's and Ralliart's is quite an acomplishment.

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Now a bit long in the tooth, the 'speed3 has always impressed us with its turbo four-cylinder and hatchback practicality. It recently received a facelift—rather, a facedroop—that somewhat toned down the super-smiley design language that seems to polarize the faithful.

Smile or no, the Mazdaspeed3 comes to us with plenty of tech options installed and 263 horsepower to drive through its front wheels. Always a bit of a nuisance with these cars is torque steer, but that's because there's just gobs of the stuff: 280 lb.-ft., to be exact, at a usable 3000 rpm.

Like what you read here? You can get a whole magazine full of these types of articles delivered to your home or shop 8 times a year. Subscribe now!

Visit the Grassroots Motorsports online store for back issues.
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