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Average User Score
4.7 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 51 reviews
2008 Mazda MAZDASPEED3 Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 51 reviews
Dispensing with the use of catchy, flashy nicknames, Mazda tells it like it is with the 2008 MAZDASPEED3. This front-wheel drive hatchback is about the fastest car in its compact class, delivering more horsepower at a cheaper price than the comparable WRX from Subaru. Introduced last year, there are no major changes for 2008.
With a lower sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes, 18-inch wheels, performance tires, and a turbocharged version of the 2.3-liter inline-four engine, the 2008 MAZDASPEED3 hits 263 hp and makes 0-60 in under six seconds. Torque is rated at 280 ft-lbs at 3,000 rpm. This hatchback loves the open highway, with confident acceleration and good road grip around curves, although there is noticeable torque steer in the latter situation. The sporty theme is carried through the side sills, rear spoiler, and large chrome tailpipe. The interior continues the theme with black dash covers, black seats with red stitching, and sport seats with leather bolsters. The 2008 MAZDASPEED3 comes in Sport and Grand Touring trims, both with dual front and side curtain airbags, ABS brakes, traction and stability control, and the full array of power features. The Grand Touring adds a 6-CD player and leather seats, along with rain-sensing wipers and xenon headlights.
Based on the regular MAZDA3 hatchback, the MAZDASPEED3 seats four, with split-folding rear seats opening onto a cargo area that expands from 16 to 43 cubic feet. Passengers say the back seat is very cramped, however, and the roomiest feature seems to be the glove box. Though complaints mention a noisy and harsh ride and the lack of all-wheel drive (lending to the torque steer problem), most drivers rave about the power and performance, saying it's easy to forget how fast this car moves (watch out for tickets!). Handling and a tight turning ratio add to the driving excitement.