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2013 Mazda MAZDASPEED3 Overview

Justin Cupler
Automotive Editor - December 20, 2012

The Mazdaspeed3's compact 2.3-liter engine packs quite a wallop, producing 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. That's a full 115 horsepower more than the base-model Mazda3. All of this power heads to the front wheels via a six-speed, close-ratio gearbox with a short-throw shifter. The engine and transmission come together to launch the Mazdaspeed3 to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, which is two seconds faster than the base Mazda 3.

The 2013 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 comes in just a single trim level: Touring. This model comes with just about all of the amenities that a younger driver may need, and whatever is not standard, you can add on from the long list of optional features. On the outside, Mazda added in a hood scoop, black exterior highlights, heated mirrors and a rear spoiler. A set of 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped up in 225/40R18 Y-rated tires are standard equipment on the Mazdaspeed 3, and replace the 16- and 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires found through the standard Mazda3 lineup. Also standard are four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The Mazdaspeed 3 isn’t just all about speed either, as it can haul up to 42.8 cubic feet of cargo and can set up to five people. Mazda eliminated the basic cloth seating found in the base Mazda3 and replaced it with leather seating with contrasting red stitching in the Mazdaspeed3, giving it a better feel and a sportier look.

The hot hatchback segment is a growing market in the U.S., leaving the Mazda Mazdaspeed3 with plenty of competition now and likely even more in the future. The biggest competitor on the Mazda’s list is the 2013 Ford Focus ST, which features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed transmission. The Focus ST stays close to the MAzdaspeed3 with its 252 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque, but it’s an all-new model with little real-life experience. The Volkswagen Golf R also comes in as a competitor with its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pumps out 256 horsepower, but its $33,990 base price puts is well above the Mazdaspeed 3’s range. The Subaru WRX hatchback is a worthy competitor with its time-tested 265-horsepower 2.5-liter boxer engine and all-wheel drive, but its five-speed manual transmission comes up one gear too short.

The Mazda Mazdaspeed3 may not be quite as fun to drive around as a Porsche 911, but it certainly provides plenty of driving fun combined with a lot of functionality.