Here is my take away from owning a MS3 for about 8 years.
Here are the cons. There were quite a few annoying issues and repairs that needed to be done. There was the notorious smoking issue that needed to be fixed. I replaced (by Mazda) the turbo (because of annoying turbo whine that sounded like an ambulance was always behind me), valve/solenoids, suspension 2 times, and I had issues with the Transmission freezing up on cold days (Mazda dealer couldn't solve after 3 transmission fluid changes). I also did not like the creaking noise the suspension made on cold days or how the transmission didn't like to be rushed. The rear seat was not very comfortable for any adult passenger and a baby seat was a bit tight to fit in. The fog lights were useless with the HIDs. This car was just OK in the snow. Costs for a MS3 will be a lot more than a regular Mazda hatch.
Now for some positives. The MS3 was just fun to drive. The stiff ride made you feel confident on turns and the turbo had some good pickup. There was a lot of room in the back if you folded down the back seats. I even hauled a full sized futon across state and transported my Kayaks on top without any issues.
Overall, I enjoyed this car a lot and did take good care of it, but it was quirky and a little expensive to fix.
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!!
The ultimate "sport utility." Three and a half years into ownership, and it still feels new and fun. I can haul a half-stack bass amp rig, plus enough PA gear for a full band to play a bar, and there's still an empty passenger seat for the lady to come along. I can fit enough lumber for a weekend building project and still beat the pants off anything else on the road when I'm driving home. Fuel economy is good enough, would be better if my foot was lighter. Power is enormous in any gear, brakes are strong from any speed, and the grip is far beyond what you expect for such a tall car. If there was ever a better daily driver for the driving enthusiast, I couldn't tell you what it was.
Limitless thrust, huge cargo capacity, eye-searing red paint, priced for real-world people.
Smoother clutch, less choppy ride, more progressive electronic throttle. It's just a hard car to drive smoothly.
I own an 07 Mazdaspeed 3 and a 2007 VW GTI. The speed wins hands down for spirited driving on a back country road but suffers in town. A very short 1st gear and stiff suspension makes for a taxing drive in stop and go traffic. I take the GTI for around town driving and leave the Speed for the weekends. Oh and I average 15mpg city and 28-30mpg freeway. That's even when I skip gears and drive very lightly. The GTI on the other hand returns on average 20-25mpg city.
Motor and handling.
taller 1st gear for city driving. Work on the torque steer. Gas mileage.