Mazda is well-known for sports cars like the Miata and RX-7, but the Mazdaspeed 3 is a hidden gem in the lineup from the 2000s.
The Mazdaspeed 3 helped complete the first decade of this millennium for the brand. From 2007-2009 this impressive little car brought a renewed driving spirit to the brand, offering an excellent alternative to the typical Mazda 3 compact sedan and hatchback vehicles. Those who wanted something a little roomier than either of the typical Mazda sports cars were pleased to find this Mazdaspeed version available at the time.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Mazdaspeed 3 a bit of an icon.
This car was an underappreciated hot hatch
While other hot hatches of the time were boastful about their accomplishments, this little Mazda went about beating the pants off several competitors. This car was much quieter about its capabilities and intentions instead of boasting loudly. There was an understated elegance to this little Mazda with a set of sophisticated wheels, upgrades to the front and rear bumpers, and a more refined build. When the focus was on a complete car with personality, an excellent driving spirit, and practicality, Mazda hit the nail on the head.
A new version arrived in 2010
The first generation of the Mazdaspeed 3 lasted for three years, from 2007-2009, and the second generation began in 2010. This new model built upon the legacy of the first by upgrading the sporty build in ways that were a little more pronounced than before. The 2010 version featured a functional hood scoop, which helped keep the car from overheating while adding sportiness to the mix. This was also when Mazda adopted the smiley face front fascia, which gave this little car a cheery disposition.
This second-generation model brought more sophistication and driving prowess while using the same build as the original. The all-new exterior and interior designs create a wonderful look for the car, while an upgraded selection of features allowed drivers to pick and choose items to suit their tastes. The trim designations for this car were SV, Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The hatchback model was available for the Sport and Grand Touring models, giving some drivers the extra room they needed to carry more cargo.
Expected Mazda elegance in the cabin
Stepping inside this sporty hot hatch brings a welcome surprise that’s become a staple of the Mazda brand. The cabin features an impressive array of sportiness and sophistication, providing occupants with an enticing interior with vibrant red accents and luxurious qualities. The first generation featured sport seats with red contrast stitching, while the second-gen models offered red gradient inserts and upgraded trim options that improved customization to allow owners to create a more unique approach to vehicle style.
The right power for a Mazda hot hatch
Under the hood of the Mazdaspeed 3 is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This car was not offered with an automatic transmission, making it a favorite among driving enthusiasts. This powertrain provided the car with 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which are still strong hot hatch figures today. The Mazdaspeed 3 could rocket to 60 mph in only 5.8 seconds and was electronically limited to 155 mph, which means it could have gone faster.
A clear emphasis on driving dynamics
If the Mazda Miata is the poster child for “zoom zoom,” the Mazdaspeed 3 is its corporate cousin. This fun and energetic little hatchback is ready to hit the road and return the perfect driving experience. The reinforced boy and retuned suspension increase agility and handling precision while offering a good ride on any road. A set of driver-selectable stability and traction controls that allow plenty of fun while keeping the car under control between the lines.
Something special in the Mazdaspeed 3
Some might think adaptive front headlights are a new feature in the modern auto market, but they aren’t. The first-ever application of these headlights came on the Grand Touring trim of this little hatchback. The inner beams swiveled up to 15 degrees to look into the corners and turn with the steering wheel. These lights feature a self-leveling system to prevent them from dazzling the eyes of other drivers on the road. This was a marvelous feature found on a car that had a lot to offer.
Should there be a third generation of the Mazdaspeed 3? Many would say this car deserves another go-round as a high-performing hot hatch, but others are leaning toward Mazda’s new hybrid powertrains. It’s hard to say, but a third-gen model would be a lot of fun.
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