The 2012 Mazdaspeed3 is a hot hatch that has it all: speed, style, handling prowess, and value. Its 2.3-liter turbocharged engine remains in 2012 with its generous 263 horsepower output, and is mated to a close ratio six-speed transmission. The Mazdaspeed3 is a blast in a straight line and nimble around bends. Unfortunately, this powerful front-wheel drive car suffers from torque steer, a tendency for the car to pull the steering wheel to one side under heavy acceleration. True enthusiasts and performance junkies who don't want to break the bank to get some kick under the hood should consider the Mazdaspeed3.
While its styling has proven controversial, we tend to like it. Once you get past the Joker-like grin, everything falls into place. Designers flared the haunches to house the 18-inch wheels, sculpted the side skirts, and added a hood scoop up front and a rear spoiler out back for that added performance and street cred.
Interior appointments are nearly identical to those of the garden-variety Mazda3, save for highly bolstered front seats, a black interior color with contrasting red pieces, and an LED boost gauge. Also like the regular Mazda3, the Mazdaspeed3 can be had with a navigation system, which isn't the best unit with its tiny screen compared to newer offerings on the market.
Bodystyle: Four-door hatchback
Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: six-speed manual
For 2012, The Mazdaspeed3 adds a few light touches to enhance its performance hatchback. The multi-information display gets new colors, text and graphics for the LCD screen. Inside a revised shift-knob and full leather-wrapped parking brake are new. New for the current model year is an available blind-spot monitoring system.
Available only as a hatchback, the 2012 Mazdaspeed3 is aggressive at any angle, yet stylish and functional. The 18-inch wheels mimic those of the recently defunct sporty sibling, the Mazda RX-8 R3, and help to lend the hatchback a wider, lower stance. The prominent grille is playful, and the standard dual exhaust tailpipes and rear spoiler lend the back a sporty feel.
The Mazdaspeed3 uses much of the same interior design language as the regular Mazda3, but adds premium refinement. Bucket seats, upgraded gauges and black leather come as standard. Other standard features on the Mazdaspeed3 include Bluetooth connectivity, three-spoke steering wheel with red stitching, dual zone climate control, and 60/40 folding rear seats. A six-speaker audio system and Mazdaspeed-badged door sills come with the model as well.
Performance & Handling
The 2.3-liter turbocharged four responds quickly to throttle inputs and puts its power down well. The stiffer springs, harder dampers, and stickier performance rubber provide a surprising amount of grip for a front-wheel-drive car. Blasting off from a standstill is a fun endeavor when the turbo kicks in at full boost.
Antilock disc brakes as well as brake assist as standard, dual front and side airbags, side impact airbag curtains, and active front headrests. All models now offer traction control and dynamic stability control standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Aggressive exterior
- Simple, well-equipped, interior
- Responsive chassis and powertrain
- Addicting speed
You Won't Like
- Wild steering
Small navigation screen
No automatic transmission
The Mazdaspeed3 gives added zoom to the compact segment.
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