“We started with something very good, then made it very, very naughty.”
That’s the tagline for the 2013 MAZDASPEED3, and we can’t think of a more fitting statement. Determined to make give the Mazda3 a little more ZOOM-ZOOM, the geniuses at Mazda slapped on a turbocharger and some other go-fast parts, along with some aesthetic upgrades. The result is a Mazda3 on steroids!
The MAZDASPEED3 is a force to be reckoned with, putting out an impressive 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Those numbers are better than the latest Subaru WRX, but getting that power to the ground is another story.
The WRX is the only hot hatch to benefit from all-wheel drive, which makes a HUGE difference off the line. The MS3, Focus ST, and VW GTI are all front-wheel drive, and all the tech in the world can’t change that. Send that much power to the front wheels, and torque steer becomes a real problem.
The MAZDASPEED3 tries to tame the beast with a limited slip differential. Additionally, Mazda Advanced Torque Management System is used to reduce torque steer by reducing power in 1st through 3rd gears. But despite Mazda’s best efforts, there’s still plenty of torque steer present, so you’ll want to keep both hands firmly gripping the wheel, or the car will try changing lanes on you. Especially in lower gears, where the car seems to have a mind of its own.
The MAZDASPEED3 does the 0-60 in around 5.8 seconds, with the quarter mile coming in at 14.3 seconds at 100mph. The WRX shaves about a second off of both times, thanks to it’s all-wheel drive.
So why buy the MAZDASPEED3 over the WRX then? Step inside the cabin and you’ll understand.
The MAZDASPEED3’s interior is a HUGE step up from the WRX. The MS3 has everything you could possibly want, and then some. Especially if you opt for the $2485 Tech Package. We’re talking Bluetooth audio, blind spot monitoring, a 5.8″ color touchscreen with TomTom-based navigation, HD radio, keyless entry and push button start, rain-sensing wipers, bi-xenon headlights, and more.
The 10-speaker 265 watt Bose Centerpoint sound system is phenomenal, delivering amazing clarity and bass alike. This was definitely not something I expected from a car in this price bracket. But given the demographic of the average MS3 owner, I’d say it was a sound investment.
Look between the tachometer and speedometer and you’ll find a boost gauge. It’s simple yet effective, and it comes standard in the MAZDASPEED3. But on the flip side, it’s impossible to see when you’re approaching the redline, as the whole tach cluster surround is red!
When it comes to handling, the MAZDASPEED3 is in a league of it’s own. 4-wheel independent MacPherson strut front and E-type multilink rear suspension give the MAZDASPEED3 it’s agile, precise handling. Front and rear stabilizer bars help keep the vehicle level in tight turns, while large 12.6-inch vented front rotors help dissipate heat faster for better control when braking. This is a car built for the twisties, no doubt about it!
Nicely bolstered seats keep you firmly in place, yet don’t hinder your ability to get in and out (like the Recaros in the Focus ST and Mitsubishi Evolution do).
Overall, we quite enjoyed our week with the MAZDASPEED3. It’s a great looking car that offers a great total package. If you’re in the market for a hot hatch, definitely check out the MS3!
Base Price: $24,200
As-Tested Price: $27,955