Before even climbing in, just the Velocity Red Mica paint job gets you ready to roll—as well as attention from the local gendarmes as I cruise around Boston's western suburbs!
Also apparent on the outside, the liftgate spoiler, plus side sill extensions to enhance the car's aerodynamics, appeals to the aero engineer in me.
Inside the Mazdaspeed3 quality is apparent with black leather/red stitched seats and treatments. But what impressed me before letting out the clutch on the 6-speed manual transmission was some display features. For example, as on many cars, turning on the headlights automatically sets the panel lighting and the navigation display into a night mode—which for the latter depicts the map as mostly black or grey. Now that's usually fine if it is fairly dark outside, but in rain or near sundown, the map can then be hard to see and read. Mazada has a feature where by pressing the dash lighting "rheostat" stem, the display reverts to the daytime mode of mostly white (and brighter gauges as well).
The navigation display is a "compact" type, just a few inches square, and can be scrolled through to show mileage and trip data. It is mounted above the center console under a cowl below the windshield and also displays the clock.
Another unique display is a vertical, linear turbo boost gauge sandwiched between the two main circular instruments (tach and speedometer) in the cluster in front of the driver. Other features are my two latest favorites, satellite radio and true keyless entry/push button starting.
Out on the road, Mazdaspeed3 performance is lively enough for a most enjoyable drive. The 2.3-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder all-aluminum engine uses intercooling as well as turbocharging and produces a substantial 263 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque. The latter leads to the major negative I found in driving the car, namely a "wicked" (as we would say in New England) torque steer—despite having a limited slip differential on the front-wheel drive powertrain.
That being said, in driving 135 miles with the car, I logged just under 25 mpg (premium gas for the higher compression engine)—pretty good considering the EPA numbers are 18 mpg (city) and 25 mpg (hwy).
MSRP for the car as delivered was $25,840.