The old man would have loved the Mazdaspeed3, too, even though he was a Porsche guy. I bought my Gen 1 new in 2007. It just turned 96-thousand miles and I have loved each and every one of them, especially those on California's coastal mountain range. Many an older Mustang, BMW and Corvette has been surprised by this mighty mite.
There are 3 things every Speed 3 owner will need to deal with: smoke, the clunky 2 to 3 shift, and the rear bar which comes loose and needs to be re-torqued periodically (in my case, twice in 8-years).
First the smoke. The car was allegedly spec'd with the wrong size PCV. There are 2 fixes. First, run "the pill" or some sort of restrictor in the crankcase vent tube. Look up "the pill" online. It's made by a company in Washington, I think. Second, start running 10W-30 synthetic motor oil. No more smoke.
When you start hearing the rear bar "clunk" as you go over the curb into a driveway, it's time to have the dealer torque it town again. 20-minutes and no more smoke.
Finally, the 2 to 3 shift problem was supposedly fixed in Gen2 models. For Gen 1 you can go to more slippery transaxle fluid like Royal Purple or Redline and that will begin to mitigate the problem. Next fix would be a good short shifter kit at around $150.
Other than those things, it has been the most fun car I've ever had. The bright red paint is even more eye-popping than ever. I also had a Gen1 RX-7 with great red paint like this. Only complaint is that in order to replace everyday items like a PCV or thermostat, something big, expensive and time-consuming has to come off first...
Loved it at first, then things started falling apart.
Broken motor mount recalled, EGR failure,
Started smoking at idle at about 30k miles.
I replaced the turbo inlet pipe,
valve cover vent (added restricter).
Made my own oil restricter bolt 66 instead of 98,
swapped out the bpv and springs and shims, still needed a custom tune to up the idle to 1100.
Now I find myself babying the thing so the turbo won't blow.
Canada made Mazda recall the k04 turbo.
We didn't get so lucky here in the USA.
So unless you're a mechanic or really good with a wrench stay away from this year and maybe a few others too.
Turbo when it is not smoking and suspension when the rear sway bar doesn't pop off.
Upgrade the EGR system.
Better ecu tune.
Better LSD instead of restricting the 0-60 in first and 2nd gear.
Better motor mounts.
Bought car new.
Like most owners have written, lots of power for the buck.
Surprise to get 30 mpg on highway driving 75.
So far it's been very reliable which I was concern since this was the first year model which by the way quicker than the latest models due to weight.
Much has been written about torque steer and touchy clutch.
Haven't experience such problems because I don't floor the car from a dead stop or release the clutch out fast which the dumb car reviewers from Autoweek, Road and Track, etc.do when testing the car out.
Can keep with BMWs, Porsches, etc. once you are rolling.
Some say VW GTI is a better daily driver which isn't true if you drive the car like normal driver.
Awesome power for highway and big turn mountain roads. Can't believe gas mileage due to the 6 spd transmission compared to the WRX which only has a 5 spd.
Interior is quality whereas the WRX is plain cause Subaru puts its emphasis to the engine and AWD.
Trunk is large 4 lots of cargo.
Love seeing expression of faces of drivers of BMW and Porsche drivers when you can keep up with them.
You will have more fun for the buck here than those expensive cars.
Besides, Mazda drivers are lot nicer than those snobs owners.
I had a Porsche before but never like the other owners.
Sold it after 6 months.
Great driving on the twisty roads with combo of power and nimbleness even for a heavy car.
The engine is too strong for a front wheel drive.
Mazda wanted to keep cost down which was a mistake because if it had AWD, it would outperform the 2011 WRX which is a great car in its ownright.
All Speed 3 owners I know would have gladly paid a few more dollars to have AWD.
This why the Speed 3 no longers is on the Best 10 list of Car and Driver as in the past.
I think the days of the Speed 3 is limited unless they make such improvement.
Speed 3 is no longer King of the Hill for Bang for The Buck!!
Well, being a car guy I knew exactly what I was looking for when I began my car search. Manual transmission, plenty of power, but also utility for my new family. Test drove several cars that were almost good enough, but fell in love with this quirky turbo immediately. Mine is SUPER red with Mazda RX-8 wheels and looks very sharp. I have the Grand Touring package that comes with a super radio and other fun options. The price was right on, and the gas mileage can be as good as you want it to be, or as bad as your right foot tells it to be! Simply put, a spectacular vehicle that does so many things well. I can't wait to get off from work and drive it home!
3rd gear, enough said. I love the sporty seats and the "stealth factor." The red color is very nice, and the overall speed of the car is bonkers. I fully expect a ticket soon!
The shifter is the only thing that needs improvement. If I miss that 2-3 upshift one more time, I'm gonna go bonkers! Aside from that the only other gripe would be the fuel mileage and use of premium gas.
As a former owner of a Subaru WRX, there is much more car here for the money than with my beloved WRX at around the same cost. No turbo lag here. Very responsive to the pedal and the steering. This thing is fun to drive! Sleek interior design. From the console hosting auto temp regulators, auto wipers, down to the stitching on the seats, shifter, and wheel. Attention to detail. The computer will also tracks mpg, miles to empty and instantaneous mi/gal Not sure how useful instant mi/gal actually is but it's there if you like too much information. Adjustable headlights are standard. Again probably overkill but there if you are on dark roads and don't want to blind oncoming traffic.
Quick response and curve handling. Interior design and features. Bose stereo. interior design. (see above)
A bit noisy on bumpy roads/highways. Tires could last longer. Fifth gear is difficult to find sometimes making it easy to downshift to 4th when accelerating to 5th.