A car built for drivers, with little compromise.
If you don't love to drive (and I don't mean tour), this is not the car for you.
Congrats to Mazda for being willing to build a car like this knowing that it will be a low volume seller at best.
Think a practical, budget Lotus, older 911, Alfa GTV6 (or maybe a 75 sedan or 164S), BMW Z3 coupe or E30 M3, Saab 9-3 Viggen or early 9000 turbo, Audi Quattro GT or a first-gen A-4... or a number of true Europe-only hot hatches (Ford Escort RS).
Go look up an Alfa 146 GTA, maybe that is the best comparison!
The styling has grown on me, in black, silver or now available pearl white tones it down a bit for more mature drivers.
Drivetrain, of course.
I've kept mine stock but pretty easy to beef it with basic bolt-ons.
While MS3's are common, the styling is enough to set the speed apart and you don't see one with every passing car.
Great ski car with dedicated snow tires.
Lumbar adjustment on the seats would be a HUGE improvement.
Sturdier load floor
(much better in the 1st gen 3's).
Return of Mazdaspeed factory accessory performance mods like 1st gen car (CAI, forged wheels, coilovers).
A full set of gauges PLEASE (oil pressure, coolant temp, volts.
17" wheel option for those who live with bad roads.
A couple of additional comments to add to to the review...
Suggested Improvement: rear switches for the power door locks.
Also, the A/C default is on, which is OK.
But it seems like I get 3-4 MPG improvement on the highway by turning it off (if it is not too hot).
That is a pretty big number and, driven very gently using the cruise control, easily comes over 30-32 mpg at 70mph.
Turn on the A/C and drive more aggressively, expect 25-28 mpg.
Very interesting article on Inside Line about the final chassis tuning of the second-gen MS3 by the Mazda Development Team.
A big performance improvement over the first gen car, despite the controversial looks.
The first gen car (I also have a regular Mazda 3 - 2004 grand touring) seemed to have some higher quality features (like the glove box lock, sturdier load floor with storage underneath, a better rear
storage compartment cover versus the current light but flimsy one, lumbar adjust on the seats) that were eliminated to provide the auto climate control or reduce cost.
While an (two-door) Alfa 147GTA is a good performance comp as a full on torque steering hot hatch, certainly the Alfa has some full-on italian style - and an a engine note from heaven - that the Mazda can't match.
Then again, we never could buy the Alfa here in the USA and it would not have been nearly as affordable (but I would have bought it).
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