2008 Mazda Mazda3 Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Mazda Mazda3

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda Mazda3 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 148 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Mazda Mazda3

  • Entertaining yet sophisticated in demeanor, the 2008 Mazda 3 doesn't look, feel or drive like an economy car. If you're shopping for a small, inexpensive sedan or hatchback, this car should be at the top of your list.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Athletic handling, refined and zippy engines, sharp styling, top-notch build and materials quality, sharp styling, hatchback utility, luxury features and ambiance at a budget price.

  • Cons

    So-so fuel economy with 2.3-liter engine, top safety equipment is optional on lower trim levels, tight rear legroom.

  • What's New for 2008

    Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are now standard on all 's' trim levels.

Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Great choice

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought new in 08 over a Civic and have been extremely pleased. Got rid of the performance rubber for some all- season tires which made the car a lot quieter and less nervous. Handling is still great. I have been getting 35 mpg in the summer and 32-33 in the winter ( I am some what of a feather foot). The 2.0 liter engine spins more easily with every mile, the chassis is still tight, and the car has not had a single issue. I also think it is better looking than the new model.

Love this car!

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I spent forever researching cars to buy and I test drove a few (the VW Rabbit, the Civic and the Toyota Matrix) before I was definite on the 3. The test drives clinched it. My mechanic of 15 years was also enthusiastic about the Mazda and now I know why. I am in love with my car. It is so sporty (looks and performance) and I couldn't be happier. I have the 5 speed and the shifting is so smooth, I would swear it was a pricier model/brand. I love to drive but I was looking for fuel economy too and I definitely picked a winner. The acceleration is excellent, but so is the fuel economy. 25-27 in the city, in heavy traffic, and 32-35 on the highway. Nice! You won't be disappointed at all. I'm thinking of buying another for my husband.

Easy choice

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

The Mazda3 is hands down the best car to buy out of all the compacts if you're looking for value and maybe a little respect on the road. I test drove every car in this class trying to find a car that wouldn't bust my bank and was still fun to drive. Nothing compared to the Mazda 3 when it comes to the fun to drive factor and the amount of options for the price. If you like driving a manual transmission make sure you test drive this car. Nothing else compares when it comes to 5 speed manuals at this price. I've been nothing but impressed with my Mazda 3 so far. Mazda has done a great job of reinventing themselves.

Good car for the price

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I replaced my Mazda 626 of 15 years with this new Mazda3. I really want to buy an electric car, so this car is to get me through the next few years. Other than being 20th century technology, it seems like a solid, nice car. I would have preferred to buy a hatchback but did not want to bump up to the wagon with its heavier weight and bigger engine. I've had a difficult time getting accustomed to the clutch -- it seems to engage much higher on the pedal than I'm used to. I've also noticed the air conditioner seems to place a lot of drag on the engine; this can make judging the gas/clutch mixture a little tricky sometimes. Overall, I'd recommend it for the price.

New, but impressed so far

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I looked at all of the standard compact vehicles. Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Nissan Versa. So far I am impressed with this car. I have always been a Honda and Toyota guy and we still have a Tundra and a CRV as our standard drivers. We needed something for gas mileage and went with this car and so far feel very impressed. First day, one hundred mile mixed driving we got a little over 31 mpg (standard tranny). It drips with quality in the interior. I think the only thing that I don't like the quality of the carpets, but overall I think its fantastic for the price. Hope it holds up.

Zoom zoom

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Vehicle: 2008 Mazda Mazda3 New i Touring Value 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Sold SUV because of gas prices and got a 2008 Mazda 3 i Touring Value Edition. Excellent car especially for the money. I got a copper red mica color, 5 spd, 17" wheels, foglights, one touch moonroof, 6 disc w/ auxiliary input and excellent sound, power windows and keyless remote, soft touch plastics and good interior feel, and neat interior illumination. I have had it for about 2 weeks and can't wait to get in it every time. First time I got 29.92 mpg with the 2.0 5-speed but that was mixed driving. Only city, I get about 24 or 25. After comparing to the Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic respectively, this was definitely the best choice


Full 2008 Mazda Mazda3 Review

What's New for 2008

Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are now standard on all 's' trim levels.


Now in its fifth year in production, the Mazda 3 continues to show that you don't have to pay a lot to own a sport sedan. Available in stylish hatchback and sedan body styles, the 3 brings a lot to the table in terms of driving excitement and available luxury features while also providing the roominess and thrift expected from today's economy cars. If a sporty drive and getting a lot for your hard-earned cash are top buying priorities, the Mazda 3 should be at the top of your test-drive list.

There are two engines available with the 3, a 140-horsepower four-cylinder in i trim levels and a more powerful 156-hp version in s trim levels. The hatchback, or five-door, is available only with the larger power plant. Both of these engines are smooth and punchy and provide the 3 with plenty of giddy-up -- particularly with the larger 2.3-liter. Neither returns particularly good fuel economy, though, with the Honda Civic besting the Mazda in this regard by about 10 mpg both in the city and on the highway. Mileage is, however, on par with other sporty compact cars like the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer.

The 2008 Mazda 3 is also distinguished by taut, chiseled styling and a handsome interior that hint at the car's athletic personality. A sign of a great design is typically one that doesn't require a sizable midlife refresh, and true enough, only minuscule changes have been made to the 3 over the years. This year, the only updates are the addition of front-seat side and full-length curtain airbags to all s trim levels. This lack of some standard safety features had been a problem in the past, and with items like antilock brakes remaining an option on the i trim level, it still is.

Otherwise, the 2008 Mazda 3 comes very well-equipped, particularly on the s models, as the s Touring and s Grand Touring trim levels come standard or can be equipped with features like 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, moonroof, satellite radio, Bose stereo with in-dash CD changer and a navigation system. Any one of these features would be considered noteworthy in this class of sedan, let alone all of them together.

Plenty of compact sedans and hatchbacks have been introduced since the 3 dawned in 2004, but the little Mazda continues to be a top choice in this segment. In fact, it had been an Edmunds.com Editor's Most Wanted for three straight years until 2007 -- and even then, it still received honorable mention status. The car that supplanted it, the Honda Civic, is its main competition, offering sporty handling, avant-garde styling and much better fuel economy. But for those looking for something a little less ubiquitous and a whole lot of fun, the 2008 Mazda 3 remains the cheapest way to own a new sport sedan.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The compact 2008 Mazda 3 is available as a four-door sedan or hatchback. There are five trim levels available for the sedan: i Sport, i Touring, s Sport, s Touring and s Grand Touring. The hatchback/wagon ("five-door") comes only in the s trims. All i sedans have a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat with center armrest and a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The i Touring trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, an upgraded stereo, keyless entry, a height-adjustable driver seat and full power accessories. Mazda 3 s models come with all of the above, plus the larger engine, special interior and exterior trim, foglights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The s Touring adds 17-inch alloys and body side sills to the mix, while the top-line s Grand Touring provides leather upholstery (optional on Touring), heated seats, automatic climate control, automatic xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a trip computer. Options include an in-dash CD changer, satellite radio, a moonroof and, for the Grand Touring versions, a navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

All i sedans use a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 148 hp and 135 pound-feet of torque, while s models use a 2.3-liter four-cylinder rated at 156 hp and 150 lb-ft. Both engines come standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic with an automanual mode is optional on i models, while s models upgrade to a five-speed automatic with automanual mode. In our test of a 3 Grand Touring sedan with the 2.3-liter engine and automatic transmission, the Mazda did the 0-60-mph sprint in 8.6 seconds. 2008 EPA fuel mileage estimates for the 2.0-liter engine with the four-speed automatic are 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the 2.3-liter with the five-speed auto gets 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.


Standard on all 2008 Mazda 3s are four-wheel disc brakes, but one must typically go to upper trims or pay extra to get the latest safety features. Antilock brakes, front-side and full-length curtain airbags are optional on the i trims and standard for everything else. Stability control is available only on the s trim levels. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration frontal-impact crash tests, the 3 scored four stars (out of five). It received three stars in that agency's side-impact tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 3 received a "Good" rating (the highest out of four) in frontal-impact crash tests but got a "Poor" rating (the lowest) in that agency's side-impact crash test. It should be noted that all of the above side-impact tests involved a Mazda 3 without side airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

Especially in s Touring and s Grand Touring forms, the Mazda 3 features a distinctive and upscale interior design that looks far richer than its price would suggest. Controls are straightforward and work with precise action, while high-grade materials and tight build tolerances further the initial sense of impressive quality. Plus, with available luxury features like heated leather seats, automatic climate control and navigation, one can equip this economy car like a budget luxury sport sedan. Even taller drivers will find plenty of room in this compact car's front seat, with generous head and legroom, aided by a telescoping steering wheel. The rear seat is a little snug for larger adults, but those of average height will find a decent amount of space. Sedans offer 11.4 cubic feet of trunk space, while the hatchback boasts 17 cubes behind its rear seat and 31 when it's folded.

Driving Impressions

Consistent with its upscale interior, the Mazda 3 tends to drive like a much more expensive sport sedan. Thanks to its performance-oriented chassis tuning, the 3 rewards the driving enthusiast with quick and communicative steering, a lack of discernible body roll and lots of grip on twisty blacktop. The s trim level's 2.3-liter engine is smooth and zippy, feeling quicker than its 155 hp would suggest. At the same time, the highway ride is smooth enough to please most commuters, although drivers who prefer softly sprung compacts like the Corolla might think the 3's too firm. All told, the 2008 Mazda 3 has refined road manners that will likely surprise car shoppers expecting the flabby ride and uninspiring handling typical of economy cars.


Talk About The 2008 Mazda3

2008 Mazda Mazda3 Discussions See all Started By


Q.: Does anyone know about a recall for a problem with dash board indicator"Check Engine Light" of this MAZDA3 2008 5spd manual model?...

2008 Grand Touring Mazda3 w/ automatic - 36/36000 lease...

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