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2007 Mazdaspeed3 produces pure driver satisfaction

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 16th, 2007

It is no secret that I typically like anything from Mazda. I like the way they look, and I like the way they drive. However, their in-house tuning division, aptly named Mazdaspeed, had never produced anything in the past that got my vote.

I felt the Mazdaspeed versions were nothing more than taking an ordinary good car and in pursuit to make them sporty and faster, they ruined it.

So I must say I was very skeptical before I got into their latest offering, the Mazdaspeed3. You see, the regular Mazda3 is a great little car and I recommend it to everyone looking to buy a car for about $20,000.

I feared that again, in pursuit of speed, Mazda would ruin their little car.

Thankfully, they didn't. All that is good about a regular Mazda3 stays intact on the Speed version. However, this time, the performance tuning went wrong, and what they have given us is a pocket rocket.

I am not exaggerating either, this small hatchback is scarily fast. It certainly is fast enough to scare plenty of muscular sports cars. Trust me on this, if you are driving a Ford Mustang GT and you come across a Mazdaspeed3 at the lights, do not dare to challenge it. You will get embarrassed.

This little-monster will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in about 5.4 seconds, and lets not talk about top speed, it is fast enough to have you locked up in prison.

That performance comes courtesy of a 2.3-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine, with plenty of clever ‘gizmology'. All that equates to 263 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque.

Since all that power goes only to the front wheels, it does become quite a handful. Thankfully there are no masses of torque-steer, so you are not forever wrestling with the steering wheel, but this car is an ‘under-steer'er'. That means, when you turn into a corner, it pushes wide towards the outside of a corner. Since there is hardly any body-roll, the under-steer feels more pronounced. Otherwise the steering feel is great, it gives you plenty of information about what the front wheels are doing.

Once you learn its handling abilities, you can really enjoy tossing it into the corners. You take very little time before you start enjoying the gearbox. The six-speed unit is precise and has a quality feel that I wasn't expecting, and it is perfectly complimented with an equally good clutch (unlike the silly clutch in the Mazdaspeed6).

So, this is a perfect little rocket. If you were in the market for a VW GTi or a Honda Civic Si, the Mazdaspeed3 is a great alternative. It is priced well too, it just comes one way, fully loaded, and it costs $30,995.

So, it looks like Mazda did no wrong with this, but just to be fair in my critique, I have to point out a flaw, and in this, it puts a dent in your wallet every time you go out. I am talking about fuel consumption. I had a hard time doing better than 14-liters/100 km, which is quite bad. However, the amount of fun this car delivers, you cannot put a price on driving satisfaction.
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