2009 Mazda Mazdaspeed3


$5,521 - $5,938

2009 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 was new.


Performance: 9.0

Test drivers are impressed with the Mazdaspeed3's quick acceleration and balanced handling dynamics. It shines as both a street machine and grocery getter.

  • "A few weeks in the dyno room followed by track tuning has transformed a capable compact into the quickest yearling in the stable. It may not have been Mazda's intention, but neither the RX-8 nor the Mazdaspeed 6 can keep pace with this young sprinter." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "I wasn't kidding when I told those GM engineers that 'hot' doesn't even begin to describe the sensation of driving the Mazdaspeed3 GT." -- Detroit News
  • "It's a poor man's AMG, a limited-edition in-house tuner car with outrageous power and subtle visual signifiers of its ill intentions." -- New York Times
  • "I found this remarkable little hatchback to be fast, stable, and even able to help remedy a major mistake -- we entered a 90-degree turn way too fast." -- Boston Globe
  • "On a smooth road with sweeping turns, the 3 can keep pace with almost anything in this price range, including some rear-drive and all-wheel-drive cars. Meanwhile, the comfortable and well-equipped cabin and the utility provided by the four-door hatchback body style makes this small dynamo a great daily driver." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers say Mazdaspeed3's engine is sprightly and its transmission smooth and responsive. Both Sport and Grand Touring trims feature a 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition Turbocharged I4 engine, which produce 263-horsepower at 5500 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. Also standard is a six-speed manual transmission. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2009 Mazdaspeed3 has a city/highway fuel economy of 18/25 mpg.

  • "MAZDASPEED3's turbocharger comes on low in the rpm band and the engine delivers its impressive power straight up to the red line." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "263 ponies don't flow seamlessly through the front wheels alone, unless everything's pointed in a straight line. Even then, expect your neighbors to notice a lot of tire smoke." -- Car and Driver
  • "Acceleration is exhilarating, with the 0-60 sprint taking just 5.9 seconds and a blast through the quarter-mile taking only 14.2 seconds." -- Edmunds
  • "The six-speed shifter is heavily weighted toward the center gate to help you find the quick way through the gears. First is geared so short that it's an excellent idea to keep your right hand on the shifter to avoid bumbling past the 6800-rpm redline into the rev limiter. The initial surge is as wickedly intoxicating as a shot of J'germeister." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Clutch feel isn't as springy or sensitive as in the Mazdaspeed6, resulting in smoother engagement and uncomplicated use" -- Motor Trend
  • "Occasionally the six-speed shifter gets balky, especially during rapid up-shifts, but it mostly is positive and easy to manipulate. Clutch engagement is smooth enough so even novice shifters can launch without hiccups." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Handling and Braking

Though some critics believe the Mazdaspeed3's brakes should be improved, most are satisfied, if not impressed, with its overall handling dynamics. The 2009 Mazdaspeed3 features rack-and-pinion steering, independent front and rear suspension, and power-assisted ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes. An Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, and Brake Assist are also standard.

  • "Flicking the steering wheel and feeling the control the car offers will engender feelings of driving superiority." -- CNET
  • "The limited-slip differential helps keep both front tires delivering optimal power right to the limit, and it carves through the corners in a way that's distinct from its all-wheel-drive competitors like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The modifications to the suspension system help guide the hatchback through the turns with very little body roll. This makes it easy to keep the car tracking in the direction the driver points the wheels." -- AutoMedia.com
  • "The brakes feel great around town and are able to shed 70 mph worth of speed in only 155 feet." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "But with everything else on the car, from the direct steering, short-throw shifter and dynamite engine, we'd prefer better brakes." -- AutoWeek

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