2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Review

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Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Serious torque for a small hatchback, sharp handling, impressive stability at high speeds, nicely detailed cabin with reasonable utility.
  • Suspension loses composure on rough roads, subpar gas mileage.

There aren't many faster cars available for less than $30,000, and the 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 locks in the deal through the corners with its quick reflexes and high level of grip.

Vehicle overview

Few vehicle classes ebb and flow as sharply as the hot hatch/sport compact segment. So to see what's going on this year, we checked our horoscopes. We looked at the orbits of Mars and Venus and made some childish jokes about Uranus; 2008, it seems, is going to be another good year.

If your horoscope reads "a hot hatch will enter your life and bring you happiness," it probably refers to the Mazdaspeed 3. A high-performance version of the standard Mazda 3 hatchback, the "MS3" arrived last year as a limited-edition model. It's back for '08 unchanged. Perhaps more so than any other car in this class, the Mazdaspeed 3 embodies the econosport principle of performance on the cheap.

This clarity of purpose is readily apparent when you see the 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3's domed hood. It's taller than the one on regular Mazda 3s to allow extra clearance for a turbocharged, direct-injection version of the regular Mazda 3's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. With the turbo at full boost, the Mazdaspeed hatch is rated for 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque; this compares to 156 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque in a regular Mazda 3 s. A six-speed manual gearbox sends all of it to the front wheels. Normally, that would result in colossal torque steer, but thanks to a limited-slip differential and precise torque management in 1st and 2nd gears (via the engine's computer), it's mostly under control. Carefully launched, the MS3 is capable of sub-6-second runs to 60 mph.

Although the engine is the main headline, it's not the only story: The standard Mazda 3 chassis underwent a significant transformation as well. In addition to expected changes like a lowered ride height and firmer springs and shock absorbers, Mazda added various braces to minimize flex during aggressive cornering. Eighteen-inch performance tires were fitted at each corner, and the front brake rotors are almost an inch larger in diameter. Such upgrades prove highly effective. On a smooth road with sweeping turns, the Mazdaspeed 3 can keep pace with almost anything in this price range, including some rear-drive and all-wheel-drive cars. It's not as composed as we'd like through tight turns and over rough pavement, but we expect its exceptional high-speed stability will offset that disadvantage for many buyers.

This ability to deliver both brutal acceleration and the manners of a European touring sedan is what makes the 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 so desirable. The fact that it also has a base price under $25,000 makes it one of the best values out there for budget-minded enthusiasts. Rivals like the Honda Civic Si sedan, Mini Cooper S, Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GTI all have their own specialized advantages, of course, and the arrival of the redesigned Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and the new Dodge Caliber SRT4 will make the field even more competitive. Still, if your horoscope predicts serious speed in an affordable sport compact, it's hard to go wrong with Mazda's hot hatch.

2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 models

The 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is available only as a four-door hatchback in two trim levels: Sport and Grand Touring. The Sport comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, 215/45R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance tires, a limited-slip differential, a roof spoiler, sport seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and full power accessories. The Grand Touring adds xenon HID headlights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, leather seat bolsters, an upgraded Bose audio system with an in-dash CD changer, a trip computer and an anti-theft system.

The short options list includes satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and, on the Grand Touring only, a navigation system. A sunroof is not offered.

2008 Highlights

The Mazdaspeed 3 hatchback is unchanged for 2008.

Performance & mpg

The Mazdaspeed 3's 2.3-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine pumps out 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, the only transmission available. A limited-slip differential and an electronic torque limiter (which regulates the torque based on gear selection and steering position) are used to enhance traction and minimize torque steer.

The transmission's shifter, which doesn't like to be rushed, has effort appropriate for the job, but feels a bit disconnected compared to the units in some competitors. Acceleration is exhilarating, with the 0-60-mph sprint taking just 5.9 seconds and a blast through the quarter-mile taking only 14.2 seconds. That turbocharged power takes a toll on fuel economy, however; mileage estimates for '08 are 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and if you drive the car aggressively, averages in the high teens are common.


Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard. In frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the standard Mazda 3 scored four stars out of five. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the standard Mazda 3 received a "Good" rating (the highest on a scale of four) in frontal-offset impact tests. Both agencies conducted side-impact crash tests, but those involved a standard Mazda 3 without side airbags.


Launching the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is always exciting, as the turbocharged engine offers tremendous low-end thrust. Turbo lag is virtually nonexistent and this is an easy car to get in and drive fast. One potential caveat for enthusiast buyers is that this engine doesn't deliver a high-rpm rush in the vein of the Civic Si's motor: Peak horsepower arrives at 5,500 rpm, and by 6,000 rpm the party's over, even though the redline is marked at 6,750.

Fling the Mazdaspeed 3 down a smooth ribbon of road, though, and you can carry as much speed through sweeping turns as you could in more elite rear-drive and all-wheel-drive cars. Credit goes to the sport-tuned hatchback's prodigious midrange torque, stiff suspension and considerable grip. The steering is exceptionally responsive just off-center, which makes flicking through transitions as easy as it is quick. Suspension damping feels adequate on smooth pavement, but rougher roads with tighter turns expose the limitations imposed by the car's near 3,200-pound curb weight and front-drive layout. Braking performance is outstanding for a car in this price range, with a stop from 60 mph taking only 116 feet.


Like the rest of the Mazda 3 line, the 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"-embossed floor mats. Accommodations up front are first-class, and even taller drivers should be 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 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2.75 out of 5 stars
Japanese Quality that's precision-engineered to implode at 36,000 miles
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback w/Prod. End 12/07 (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Never abused, raced, modified, or wrecked, and serviced only my Mazda dealerships, yet it still began self-destructing within 100 miles of the end of the warranty. From 36K to 55K: · silly-putty factory rear motor mount began eating itself · steering began clicking and popping, dealer could not diagnose · pot-metal shift knob attachment rod sheared off while driving · toy-car-plastic shift cable end broke off of gear knob · BlOSE radio died · engine developed incurable throttle lag · 2nd gear (and no other) would either (a) engage smoothly (b) engage with notchiness (c) grind (d) not engage at all; dealer could not diagnose · 1 passenger window failed · power lock in driver's door failed
4.5 out of 5 stars
Good Car
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Alright so here is my review on the speed3. I have owned mine for about a year and a half now and I must say I'm extremely happy with it. You never forget that you are driving a Japanese tuner car. There is a lot of engine drone in the cabin and if you roll the windows down it gets even louder. I can take about every corner you can think of and still not lose control. It is front wheel drive so if you go up against a new WRX or EVO you will lose, but not by much. Not to mention this car brand new is about 5K less than those. For the money you get all kinds of fun. Anyone looking to by a practical, fast, stick shift car, the speed3 is your best bet.
5 out of 5 stars
All you need in a performance inspired car, and more
Sport 4dr Hatchback w/Prod. End 12/07 (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
This car is exactly what I was looking for when I was shopping for a new one back in 2008. I've had it now for 5 years and not a single problem. Very fun and exciting to drive. More than enough power for a 2.3L 4 cyl, and plenty of space inside as well for passengers and cargo. I get compliments everywhere I go from friends to strangers, men and women.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Mazda Speed 3 A hot Hatch
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I bought this 2008 speed 3 new but in January 09. I got a great price as the vehicle was discounted greatly to move it. It's definitely the great value that everyone has said it is and yet lately I have found myself at dealerships in search of a step up. The car is fast but the ride and handling don't reach my previous VR6 Jetta, driving experience despite more speed and power. The torque steer is enormous comparatively and the ride and handling are not up to par. I also happen to be an audio nut and the Bose sound system is quite awful. The speakers sounded crappy, the bass bloated and the system has a noise circuit that makes the volume fluctuate uncontrollably. It has been replaced.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3

Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Overview

The Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is offered in the following submodels: Mazdaspeed 3 Hatchback. Available styles include Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback w/Prod. End 12/07 (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Sport 4dr Hatchback w/Prod. End 12/07 (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M). Pre-owned Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 models are available with a 2.3 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 263 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual. The Used 2008 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.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Grand Touring is priced between $7,499 and$7,499 with odometer readings between 125183 and125183 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Mazdaspeed 3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,499 and mileage as low as 125183 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

Can't find a used 2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 for sale - 4 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $12,271.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $18,183.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 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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