You'll Like The 2009 Mazda Mazda3 If...
If you're in the market for a compact pocket rocket that can also serve as a daily driver, the MAZDASPEED3 should be at the top of your list. With a sub six-second zero to 60-mph time and a top speed of 155 miles per hour, there's nothing in this price range that can match the 2009 MAZDASPEED3's performance.
You May Not Like The 2009 Mazda Mazda3 If...
The MAZDASPEED treatment is aimed at hardcore enthusiasts and includes a noticeably stiffer ride, increased interior noise levels and a drop in fuel economy from the standard MAZDA3. If you like the idea of a quick car that is still comfortable and quiet, the Volkswagen GTI might make a better choice.
The MAZDASPEED3 sees no major changes for 2009.
In keeping with the 2009 MAZDASPEED3's performance nature, the interior receives a number of improvements over the base MAZDA3, the most noticeable of which are the big bolstered front bucket seats, handsomely adorned with cloth inserts and decorative red seam stitching. A sunroof is not offered, which is good news for tall drivers who need the additional headroom. Although the basic instrument panel layout is the same as in the MAZDA3, the MAZDASPEED3's cockpit includes a six-speed manual transmission, aluminum pedals and stainless-steel scuff plates. The audio system includes an auxiliary input jack and optional iPod adapter.
Having the sporty MAZDA3 five-door as a starting point is a big plus for the MAZDASPEED version. The racy five-door receives a number of exterior enhancements, including an aggressive grille and lower air intake, rectangular fog lights and a bulging hood dome to make room for the turbocharged powerplant. The MAZDASPEED3's widened front fenders not only make the car look more aggressive, they also make room for the car's fat 18-inch wheels and tires. Around back, the revised rear bumper includes a black diffuser-like insert, a larger tailpipe and a high-mounted rear spoiler with integrated third brake light. Color choices are limited to red, black, gray and white.
As one would expect, straight-line acceleration in a lightweight compact with 263-horsepower is nothing short of electrifying. The MAZDASPEED3's turbocharger comes on low in the rpm band and the engine delivers its impressive power straight up to the red line. Mazda's electronic torque management system does a good job keeping the car moving in a straight line but, with front-drive and a lot of power, it's still easy to initiate sufficient torque steer to get the MAZDASPEED3 to pull to one side or the other when launching hard from a dead stop. The stiff suspension and precise steering really deliver where it counts, and the car deals exceptionally well with even the tightest of turns. The ride can get a bit harsh over rough pavement and the interior sound levels are high, but these are minor trade-offs when it comes to the all-out fun-to-drive quotient provided by the MAZDASPEED3.
The 2009 MAZDASPEED3 Sport's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $24,000, while the Grand Touring trim level starts just over $25,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction prices paid by others in your area, so be sure to check it before you begin shopping. However, given the MAZDASPEED3's low production volume and likely high demand, negotiating below MSRP may not be a reasonable option. As for resale, the MAZDASPEED3 should hold its value well, on par with the Volkswagen GTI and slightly better than the Dodge Caliber SRT4.
The 2009 MAZDASPEED3 is offered in two trim levels: Sport and Grand Touring. The Sport model features a six-speed manual transmission, traction and stability control, a limited-slip differential, larger front and rear anti-roll bars, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), automatic climate control, power windows, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cloth sport seats, an AM/FM stereo with single CD player and front, front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags. The Grand Touring adds cloth and leather sport seats, bi-xenon automatic headlamps, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, Bose audio with six-disc CD changer, four-function trip computer and theft-deterrent security system.
Options are limited on the Sport trim level to an auto-dimming rearview mirror and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The Grand Touring version offers navigation and a six-disc CD/MP3 changer. Both models can also be equipped with a number of MAZDASPEED performance accessories.
Body-Hugging Sport Seats
The MAZDASPEED3's sport seats provide a snug fit with large side bolsters to hold the driver and passenger firmly in place during spirited drives.
Standard on the Grand Touring trim, the Bose audio system delivers enough bass to overcome invading exterior noise from the big tires and booming exhaust.
Under the Hood
The 2009 MAZDASPEED3's DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) intercooled and turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a masterpiece of compact engineering. Displacing a mere 2.3 liters, the engine produces 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Power is run through a short-shifting six-speed manual transmission and regulated with a combination of electronic torque management and a Super LSD limited-slip differential. Despite the MAZDASPEED3's massive output, the EPA rates the car at 18 miles per gallon city and 25 miles per gallon highway, impressive fuel economy numbers for such a high level of performance.
2.3-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
263 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
280 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
In the MAZDASPEED3, Mazda finally has a compact sports model to do battle with the Volkswagen GTI, Subaru Impreza WRX and Dodge Caliber SRT4. Billed as one of the fastest front-wheel-drive compact cars on the planet, the turbocharged 2009 MAZDASPEED3 puts some real muscle behind Mazda's sporty design language. Sharing most of its body with the hot-selling MAZDA3 five-door has insured the MAZDASPEED3's slam-dunk success, while dynamic changes to the suspension, gearbox and interior are sure to satisfy the most demanding compact car enthusiasts. With a starting price below $24,000 and another limited production run, customers are likely to find that the greatest obstacle to owning a MAZDASPEED3 won't be cost, but finding one on an authorized dealer's lot.