I was looking for a hot hatchback and the choice was the Mazdaspeed 3 or Focus ST.
I was fortunate that the local dealer carried both brands so was able to test them literally side by side.
They are both outstanding in their genre.
The choice came down to a small price advantage for the MS3, a bit more power and my wife liked the looks better.
Gas mileage had been a concern when looking, but at least here in Florida, it is much better than rated.
I average 24 around town and around 30 highway.
All around a really fun ride with a bit of a firm ride.
Performance is the most outstanding feature, both in straight line acceleration and handling.
The Focus may have had a slight advantage in handling, but in Florida, it isn't noticeable on our usually straight roads.
Seat comfort is also very good, I am average size and weight, though much larger people might find them tight.
MPG is better than it was rated.
A very practical car with the large hatch and folding rear seats.
Nothing major, a bit more compliant ride would add to comfort, the Focus ST manages to do it.
Interior is a bit plain, almost German in appearance with mostly hard surfaces, still it is clean and functional.
I'm considering some dashboard inserts readily available online.
Well, I drove the now infamous Focus ST as well as the VW GTI and GLI and came back to the Speed3.
The Focus was very slow to build boost and make power, felt very darty and followed every rut in the road.
The newer GTI didn't have the magic that the MKV GTI possessed.
It didn't have the instant torque feeling, maybe because I didn't floor it, very different throttle calibration possibly.
The Jetta GLI was just too vanilla, it doesn't stand out in any real way other than the interior was pretty neat.
The Speed3 entertains in normal driving like no other.
Power comes on immediately, while the suspension is much more aggressive, it's well dampened.
Favorite features are the power, steering feel, braking, and handling.
The price after dealing and getting them to give up the incentive blew everything away.
Truly fun to drive.
Too new to rate reliability, but I gave it excellent based on previous Mazda ownership.
The seat bottoms are too flat and don't adjust.
The dash/radio design is bad.
It gets the worst mileage in the segment, low 20's. Part of owning 280lbft of fun..... Bose stereo not at all impressive, but neither were the base stereos in any other car.
I test drove and heavily researched for 3+ months before I acquired a 2013 MS3 w/ Tech Pkg.
I looked at all "classes" with budget of up to $45000 . I looked at Subaru WRX & WRS-STI, Acura TSX, Acura TL SH-AWD, Genesis 2.0T, GTI, BMW 328, etc.
I needed a practical 4-door sports car which would provide convenience, great looking exterior, "every day" drive-ability, fast, good interior, excellent handling, good on gas when not "pushed", etc.
I Could not ignore the amount of money I'd save with an MS3 while getting everything I wanted.
If you love motorcycles, you'll love MS3--simple! :)
Many other "sports cars" have too much isolation from environmental conditions, audible engine sound/noise, road noise that tells you what the car is doing, etc.
This is a true sports car which let's you feel everything.
Some reviews talk about "road noise" or other"refinement".
If you want a "smooth/soft" ride and "refinement", then get a slower GTI, Cadillac or your Grandfather's favorite car--MS3 is not for you.
It's unfortunate that Subaru's have somewhat ugly body designs and terrible dealer/services in western Canada, not-so-good interiors; MS3 does not have those issues.
Great looking body design!
I can't say enough: for under $30K CDN, there's nothing else out there like it!
I'd gladly pay extra $$ to have AWD.
Mazda, please bring the Japanese AWD to Canada and US!