2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Immense torque, superb balance of handling and ride comfort, semi-sleeper styling, top-notch build and materials quality, hatchback utility.
  • Vague shifter action, tight rear legroom for taller passengers, only 5,000 available in the U.S.

A top pick in the super-sport compact class, the 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 offers ripping performance along with a well-sorted chassis that allows one to make quick and very enjoyable work of curvy roads.

Vehicle overview

One of the few non-premium brand automakers to offer all-out "tuner" style versions of its cars, Mazda once again gives serious (but not seriously wealthy) driving enthusiasts another reason to rejoice. For 2007, Mazda has given the full Mazdaspeed treatment to the 3 to create a giant-slayer called the Mazdaspeed 3. In short, Mazda has taken a car that already earned our adoration for its athletic sport sedan manners, tight build quality and versatile hatchback body style not only to the next level, but a couple of levels beyond that.

A healthy power infusion comes by way of transplanting the same turbocharged engine found in the midsize Mazdaspeed 6 into the compact 3. In this application the force-fed 2.3 makes "only" 263 horsepower versus 274 for the Mazdaspeed 6. Appropriately, a six-speed manual with a limited-slip differential is the only available transmission -- as we said, a car for serious enthusiasts. Other chassis enhancements include a tightened-up suspension, 18-inch wheels wearing sticky performance tires and bigger brakes.

Of course, the Mazdaspeed has the requisite visual tweaks that are fortunately subtle enough to be tasteful, yet distinctive enough to let car buffs know this isn't just a standard Mazda 3. In addition to the big wheels, there are unique front and rear fascias, a rear spoiler atop the hatch, a chrome exhaust tip and a slightly raised hood. The cockpit features aggressively bolstered sport seats and aluminum pedals.

With pricing starting in the low-$20K range, the 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is an intriguing choice for a performance car. Compared to the Honda Civic Si sedan and four-door Volkswagen GTI hatchback, the 3 provides better performance for about the same price. Alternately, one can view the Mazdaspeed 3 as a fully viable and less expensive competitor to small sport sedans like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evolution. Overall, the Mazdaspeed 3's combination of blistering performance and an easy-to-live-with personality make this hyperactive hatchback one of our favorite driver's cars for 2007.

2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 models

The 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 comes solely as a four-door hatchback in two trim levels. The base version is called the Sport and comes with automatic climate control, full power accessories, keyless entry, sport seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a CD stereo with an audio input jack, 18-inch wheels with 215/45 performance tires, sport-tuned suspension and foglights. The Grand Touring adds leather seat bolsters, Bose audio with a six-disc CD changer, xenon HID headlights, trip computer, rain-sensing wipers, LED taillights and an anti-theft system. The sole option is a navigation system, which is only available on the Grand Touring.

2007 Highlights

The 3 gets the hot-rod treatment from the company's in-house tuners to become the 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3. Highlights include a 263-horsepower turbocharged engine, a six-speed manual gearbox, a lowered suspension with sport tuning and 18-inch wheels.

Performance & mpg

The Mazdaspeed 3's 2.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder engine pumps out 263 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. All that power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox (the only transmission available) while a limited-slip differential and an electronic torque limiter (which regulates the torque based on gear selection and steering position) put the power to the ground. The shifter, which doesn't like to be rushed, has effort appropriate for the job, but feels a bit disconnected compared to some of its competitors. Acceleration is exhilarating, with the 0-60-mph sprint taking just 5.9 seconds and a blast down the quarter-mile taking only 14.2 seconds. EPA fuel mileage estimates are 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard. In NHTSA frontal-impact crash tests, the standard Mazda 3 scored four stars (out of five). In IIHS testing, the standard Mazda 3 received a "Good" rating (the highest out of four) in frontal-offset impact tests. Those agencies also conducted side-impact crash tests, but those involved a standard Mazda 3 without side- and side-curtain airbags.


Fling the Mazdaspeed 3 down a ribbon of road filled with sweeping bends and you'll find it carrying almost as much speed as an Evo or WRX STI -- provided that ribbon is smooth. Damping feels adequate on smooth roads, but tighter and rougher roads work against the car's near 3,200-pound curb weight and cause the Mazda to feel a bit out of its element. For that reason, the Mazdaspeed 3 is better suited to smooth roads with sweeping corners rather than rough roads with tight switchbacks. It can certainly handle the latter, but loses some of its otherwise excellent poise. Still, the 3's steering is exceptionally responsive just off-center, which makes flicking through transitions as easy as it is quick. Braking performance is outstanding, with a stop from 60 mph taking only 116 feet, a number that would do a $60,000 sport sedan proud.


As with the other Mazda 3 models, the 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 boasts a cabin with a distinctive and upscale design. It also shares the same large, clear gauge layout, precise controls, high-grade materials and tight build quality. Unique touches for the Mazdaspeed edition include more aggressively bolstered front sport seats, aluminum pedals, a red and black color scheme and Mazdaspeed floor mats. Accommodations up front are first-class, as even taller folks are easily able to get comfortable. The well-shaped and supportive backseat is fine for those under 6 feet tall, but taller passengers will feel pinched for legroom. Cargo capacity stands at 17 cubic feet behind the rear seats and expands to 31 cubes when it's folded.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.88 out of 5 stars
For those not yet resigned to middle age
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I'm in my mid 40's. This is the most fun I've ever had on four wheels. I've owned American muscle and Japanese sport, but the Mazdaspeed 3 give me the best of both worlds. It delivers killer torque much like my previous 8 cylinder but handles like the much smaller performance machine it is. It also has tons of usable interior room. This is important to me because I run a small business and need to haul computer gear from time to time. It also accommodates my wife and kids in comfort. Build quality is impressive. The driving dynamic much closer to a European sport sedan than any other Japanese car I've ever been in. Nicest car I've ever owned for the money.
4.88 out of 5 stars
MS3 GT saved my life
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I owned my 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 GT for a total of 45 minutes before I was in a head on collision by a RAV-4 going eastbound on a westbound lane on a major highway. We were both going approximately 65 MPH in opposite directions before we collided. I cannot comment on the long term reliability of the vehicle or the MPG but I am alive today due to the solid construction and safety features of this vehicle. Unfortunately the person driving the RAV-4 that hit me was not as lucky. My hat is off to Mazda for building such a fantastic and secure vehicle.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Fantastic Drive and Quality for $$$
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
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.
4.38 out of 5 stars
True Red Experience
Rich S,11/07/2006
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I had the car for about two weeks and have driven it 800 super fun miles. It is a true pocket rocket in all sense of the word, yet it has four doors, large luggage capacity, super tight suspension, a turbo that is willing to please and best of all it is affordable. This car truly is fun to drive especially in windy roads. The car handles almost as good as my mid-engine MR2. The oversteer is present as I expected with the 263 hp front wheel, but it is manageable. The shifting gets some getting used to, truly awkward, but you tend to forget about it when the turbo kicks in. This car also feels at home in city driving as it is very nimble and responsive and fairly easy to drive.

More about the 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
More About This Model

California's Highway 198 is a true test of any enthusiast car. It's got a little bit of everything — significant elevation gain, differing surfaces, jumps and a big enough variety of turns to satisfy any driving geek. We drove Highway 198 in the 2007 Mazdaspeed 3, a car that brings the road to life in an entirely new way.

You see, there's a lot going on when the Mazdaspeed 3 is working hard on a back road. Its tires bark for grip as they bite the surface, the gearbox whines just enough to be noticeable and the engine whooshes, snorts and snarls. At least, that is, when all four wheels are on the ground.

But that isn't always the case on this road. More than once during our drive we experienced the deafening silence that accompanies air under the tires. It's an impossible-to-ignore peacefulness interrupting an otherwise chaotic sensory overload. And it's one that we'd never experienced on this road — probably because we'd never gone this fast here. The Mazdaspeed 3 is a serious enthusiast car. It's a lot of machine for the money and it offers the same balance of speed, practicality and value we've found previously only in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or Subaru WRX STI.

Hot-rod hardware
Mazda's 3 is a compact five-door or sedan that's been winning comparison tests and proving itself as a class leader since its introduction in 2003 as an '04 model — hardly a car capable of Evo or STI-like performance. However, the Mazdaspeed version is fundamentally the same animal, but with an infusion of go-fast hardware that nudges the 3 into the realm of serious performance without proportionally increasing its price.

Mazda's 2.3-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine, which is shared with the Mazdaspeed 6 and CX-7 crossover SUV, is the most significant change. In the 3 it's rated for 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, 11 hp less than the Mazdaspeed 6. The torque rating is identical.

The change, according to Mazda engineers, is strictly a matter of differences in engine calibration. The engine, with the exception of insignificant intake and exhaust plumbing changes needed to make it fit the 3's smaller body, is identical to the Mazdaspeed 6 — right down to the vanes on the turbo wheels. Both cars use the same six-speed manual transmission although the front-wheel-drive 3 lacks the power take-off unit that sends drive to the rear wheels on the all-wheel-drive 6.

Routing 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque efficiently through the front tires is the job of the mechanical limited-slip differential and sophisticated torque management undertaken by the engine control computer. Torque is limited based on two criteria — gear selection and steering position — and is especially noticeable while cornering in 1st or 2nd gears.

Chassis improvements
Braces were added to the chassis to tie the strut towers to the firewall. There's also a brace under the car that increases rigidity through the body by minimizing flex in the floor tunnel, and a gusset in the rear that decreases flex at the multilink suspension's lower pick-up points.

Ride height is lowered 10 millimeters relative to the standard 3 while the front and rear spring rates are raised 43 and 30 percent, respectively. Damping is increased across the board and the antiroll bars are 235 and 244 percent stiffer front and rear — the result of a 5mm increase in diameter at both ends.

Larger front brake rotors and beefier calipers were added to deal with the additional speed and weight. The front rotors increase 0.8 inch in diameter from 11.8 inches to 12.6 inches. Upgraded single-piston calipers are included as well.

Detail work
Mazda tells us that all Mazdaspeed products must pass a visual test that easily differentiates them from the standard cars at a set distance. This is true with the Mazdaspeed 3 — if you know what you're looking for. The front fenders are marginally wider, the hood is slightly taller, the foglights are more rectangular and there's a spoiler standing on the rear deck lid. The 10-spoke, 18-by-7-inch wheels are an improvement over the standard car's wheels, but look heavy since there's almost no void area. There's the requisite large chrome exhaust tip as well.

Bottom line? Those who care will know this is a special car, and those who don't, won't. It's subtle enough to slip past a Dunkin' Donuts loaded with handlebar mustaches and mirrored sunglasses without anyone spilling their coffee.

Inside there are deeply bolstered front seats that fully look the part. Editors were split on the seats' lateral support, some feeling the seat bottom was too wide and others finding them perfectly supportive. Our Grand Touring trim level test car had leather bolsters — a touch that shows someone at Mazda realizes that leather in the seat bottoms is a bad idea for performance driving. The same thick-rimmed steering wheel from the standard 3 is in place with buttons for the audio system and cruise control. Aluminum pedals dress things up a bit.

Serious numbers
At the track our tester racked up some impressive performance numbers — both in a straight line and through our handling tests. Probably the most outstanding number is the 60-0 braking distance of 116 feet. This often overlooked bit of data proves how thorough Mazda's overhaul of the 3 actually is. And even though this is a single-stop number, our abuse of the brakes during aggressive street and track driving proves them worthy of contending with excessive heat.

At the drag strip, we recorded a 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.2 seconds at 100 mph. That's 0.4 second slower to 60 than the last Subaru WRX we tested, but a staggering 1.3 seconds quicker to that speed than a Honda Civic Si. Plus, the Mazda is at an obvious launch disadvantage in the sprint to 60 against the WRX given the Subaru's all-wheel drive. By the end of the quarter-mile the Mazda's added power makes the contest a dead heat against the WRX and blows the Honda out of the water by almost a full second.

Then there's the matter of top speed — normally not a serious consideration for cars in this class. Mazda limits the 3 to 155 mph. Our seat time backs up that claim, but we suspect there's little speed beyond that figure anyway.

The little five-door might not look like a handler, but our numbers prove otherwise. It split the slalom cones at 68.2 mph, only slightly behind the last Civic Si we tested (68.5 mph) and better than the VW GTI (66.1 mph).

In a straight-up contest of grip, the 3 is equally impressive at 0.88g. That's not Evo-like grip, but it's significant considering that the 3 wears 215/45R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires, which aren't known for their outstanding road-holding and should wear fairly well.

On the road
Pin it down on a ribbon of road filled with sweeping bends and you'll find the 3 carrying almost as much speed as an Evo or STI — provided that ribbon is racetrack smooth. Mazda insists it doesn't compete with those cars, but we can't help but make the comparison. It's quick enough to require the same heightened awareness needed to drive those cars quickly and, on the right road, will get you there almost as effortlessly. In fact, with a little more grip, it would be hard for any Evo to escape a well-driven Mazdaspeed 3.

The 3's steering is exceptionally responsive just off-center, which makes dispatching transitions as easy as it is quick. It utilizes a 14.7:1 steering ratio — almost identical to the standard car. Sixty percent more roll stiffness than a conventional 3 doesn't hurt here either.

Damping feels adequate on smooth roads, but falls apart a bit on uneven surfaces — probably thanks to the 3's rather portly 3,163 pounds. Body motions aren't as well controlled as we'd like over bumps which affect the whole car. Oddly, this occurred mostly during normal driving over large undulations like frost heaves or railroad track risers rather than at the ragged edge of the car's limits. It's also clear that the 3 is better suited to smooth roads with sweeping corners rather than rough roads with tight switchbacks. It wasn't uncontrollable out of its element, but it loses some of its otherwise excellent poise.

We do, however, love the engine. You won't find more punch for this kind of money in any other car, and that goes a long way in a class filled with capable contenders. Serious grunt starts well below 3000 rpm but ends the party early with a power peak of 5500 rpm. We found upshifting at 6000 was the quickest in most cases, reserving redline only to save ourselves the hassle of shifting twice before a corner. The shifter, which doesn't like to be rushed, has effort appropriate for the job, but feels a bit disconnected compared to some of its competitors.

Get one now
Even with less-than-perfect suspension tuning and a sometimes awkward shifter, the Mazdaspeed 3 is probably the quickest car in its class on virtually any road. It will hardwire itself to its driver's senses and slot down the tarmac with insane speed and purposeful confidence.

But you better act fast if you plan on buying a Mazdaspeed 3. Cars should arrive at dealers by the end of this month, but only 5,000 are coming to North America (Canada's allotment is maybe 250 cars). Given the car's $22,240 base price we'd wager that they will be hard to come by. Opt for the Grand Touring package, which adds the aforementioned leather bolsters, xenon headlights with an auto-on feature, rain-sensing wipers and a Bose 222-watt audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, and the price goes up to $23,955. Even with our tester's optional $1,750 navigation system the car is a steal.

Highway 198 proved that.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Second Opinions:

Richard Homan says:
Mazda is becoming a bit of a poor-man's BMW. Although not to everyone's taste, the Japanese automaker's styling leans toward a more adventurous flavor against the more conservative shapes of its competition. Hiroshima's interiors, too, feel very modern and high quality. And Mazda isn't afraid of performance, even in its most mundane offerings. And like BMW, Mazda builds cars that an enthusiast can appreciate and a commuter can live with happily. The penultimate driving machine, as it were.

The Mazdaspeed 3 delivers the extra boost (literally, as it turns out) that BMW's M division endows on Munich's best work. Adding a turbo and beefier suspension tuning to the front-drive five-door Mazda 3 only accentuates the best of the 3's sporting personality. And while that sounds (and feels) like a setup begging for torque steer, Mazdaspeed engineers have all but eliminated that notion from high-performance front-drive. The ride is firm, but livable even over long distances, and the sport seats hold you tight.

For years, Mazda has been creating vehicles that successfully combine quirk factors with quick factors, and the public has been a little slow to catch up. The Mazdaspeed 3 is a terrific addition to the company's quiver. It drives like a car that comes from a company that knows who it is and what it wants to build — maybe even more so than BMW.

Edmunds.com Editorial Director Kevin Smith says:
I was not surprised that the Mazdaspeed 3 is quick, taut, responsive, well-balanced and loads of fun to run around in, whether flogging it eagerly or just running errands. That's what I expected.

I was a little surprised to find some details that feel oddly out of synch with its image as a focused performance machine. They're small things, but they stood out. The main radio controls go from the familiar and perfectly serviceable two-knob layout to a three-knob, with nonintuitive functions (tuning on the left?). And what's with the little orange lights that dance sideways Knight Rider-like to tell me — what? — that I've just adjusted the volume or hit a scan button, thank you very much? Speaking of pushing buttons, I have to do that to release the key, a habit I thought modern vehicles had stopped requiring.

I said it was small stuff, and nothing I'd consider a deal-breaker. I could happily buy a Mazdaspeed 3 and be used to those things in a week.

But this treatment confuses me a little. Granted, the car's target audience may be closer in age to my sons than to me, but fussy and unnecessary is still fussy and unnecessary. I shouldn't have to get used to anything in a car that otherwise feels supremely contemporary and in tune with a dedicated driver.

Stereo Evaluation:

System Score: 8.0

Components: The Mazdaspeed 3 Grand Touring version comes standard with an impressive audio system that includes seven speakers, speed-sensitive volume and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. As part of the package, an in-dash changer is included along with a 222-watt Bose stereo with subwoofer. The Mazda 3's head unit is also compatible with satellite radio and has an auxiliary input jack in the center storage box for connecting a handheld MP3 player.

Performance: The Mazda 3's stereo delivers clean, clear sound at almost any volume. It sounds just as good as any other car in its segment and better than most — the only exception being the Honda Civic Si.

The Mazdaspeed 3's sound system delivers nice bass, but lacks the thump of a more expensive unit. The bass can sometimes sound boomy, yet there is a certain amount of punch that really adds to the bottom end. While the overall sound quality overall is very good, it lacks the warm quality of the Civic's system and instead opts for a more "real" sound that can sometimes be tiring at higher volumes. Midrange can sound hollow but vocals come through nicely. There's plenty of good sound coming from the six speakers, although we found ourselves wishing only for a midrange adjustment.

The stereo found in the Mazdaspeed 3 looks and sounds a lot like the system in the larger Mazda 6. We like the way the controls are arranged in the 3, and although gimmicky, we like the added pizzazz of the blinking LED lights that accompany volume changes. In a perfect world, the audio controls would be integrated into the navigation system, but it's all easy to use without that feature.

Best Feature: Sound quality considering the price.

Worst Feature:No midrange adjustment.

Conclusion: A nice system overall. The average person will think they have something really special and audiophiles will hear this stereo's minor weaknesses. The Mazda 3 is a stellar little car and the stereo almost equals that in terms of sound quality for the money — Brian Moody

Used 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Overview

The Used 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is offered in the following submodels: Mazdaspeed 3 Hatchback. Available styles include Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M). The Used 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual. The Used 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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