The good: This is just an amazing performance car. Great ride/handling balance, big power, super fun-to-drive. I think it looks great too.
The bad: DO NOT buy one of these if you can't give it the attention it requires (ESPECIALLY a high-mileage one). This car has a few major parts that often have problems - mainly the turbo, the timing chain/ vvt tensioner, and various suspension components (all of which are time-consuming and VERY expensive to repair). BE SURE to read up extensively on mazdaspeed forums on these and other potential issues. If you do buy one, CHECK THE OIL WEEKLY (at the least). These cars tend to eat oil more than your average car. I would also have it thoroughly inspected by a reputable mechanic. Ideally, check for smoking exhaust after idling for 10+ minutes (sign of bad turbo) and do a compression test and oil pressure test if possible.
Again, a great car, but if you're buy one, just know what you could be in for. It's like having a really beautiful, high maintenance girlfriend - you take the good with the bad : )
This really is a great performing car. Its still surprise me what is can do. Its ultra stable on a open highway and loves to be pushed hard in turns. Reliability has been really good. But it needs a little more maintenance than your average car. I have replaced all the shocks with better aftermarket ones since the shocks when bad around 60K. Upgraded the sway bars front and rear, the linkages are know to go bad. Also make sure you change the transmission fluid every 40K since transmission can go bad on higher millage cars. Besides that there have been no major issues. If you want a car that is great fun, low repair cost and space for small kids can't go wrong with the speed3.
On the advice of a car dealer/racer friend I purchased my Speed3 after first test driving the GTI, WRX sti, Mini S, Lancer RalleyArt and Cobalt SS. This car made me say "Holy cr@p!" more than any of the others. The Speed3 was an upgrade from my 2005 Pontiac GTO which was incredibly fast, but lacked cornering, braking, space, utility, and was extremely expensive to own. The Mazda is a much more complete performance car. After 36,000 miles it's still capable of shocking the bejeezus out of me with its acceleration, cornering, and braking. I've had no quality issues, rattles, squeaks. etc. We take this car on long trips instead of my wife's Maxima because it's more comfortable. I love this car!
Acceleration, handling, brakes, interior materials, audio system. I'm very happy I chose a new '09 instead the 2010's which were also available. The '09 is more than 200 lbs. lighter, it has a more attractive interior, and it lacks the boy racer hood scoop and "smiley face" grill. It's amazing how much stuff will fit in this car with the rear seats down. With them up my 6'2" brother has been comfortable on 250 mile drives.
It could use an additional power port and it would be nice to have the "aux" jack on the front of the audio panel instead of inside the console.
Possibly the "best" car, for the money, I've ever had! (Except for dealership experience--see my review, no, see ALL the Edmunds reviews of the AutoTown [violative content deleted]) I previously had an '02 Z06, and while it was more HPDE capable, the 'speed3 is more enjoyable at all "public streets" speeds, and twice the value/dollar as the 'vette (assuming you don't need the "Corvette ego massage.")
I've enjoyed a "decadent 2nd childhood" the last 20 yrs--including 2 M3s, 3 SVT Cobras (2 "R"s), and a few '60s muscle cars--and the 'speed3 is a balanced highlight, overall.
I'm waiting 'til the warranty's used up before I try any mods (that could be used as an excuse to void my warranty); 2013 s/be fun.
1 - Very well-balanced (for FWD) in stock form.
2 - VERY comfortable for up to 3 hrs between breaks, on trips.
3 - Mazda's philosophy of making "almost everything" standard equipment on Mazdaspeed models; I chose the "Grand Touring" version due to the extensive "standard equip." list.
OTOH, I wouldn't have got the "techno" pkg, but the best 09 'speed3 left in this market ('10s were already out) was dealer-ordered that way.
4 - Almost invisible to (or ignored by) L/Os...at least, in white, with stock exhaust (and maybe my grey hair?).
1- REAL limited-slip (rather than "electronic brake compensation")-->"4" in performance.
2a - taller first gear ratio (i'm tired of "3000 rpm & a shift" before I finish crossing an intersection)...or
2b) even better, offer a "hi-po" A/T (like VW did in the '08 R32, eh?).
3 - Make the dang tire pressure sensors WORK...or at least make 'em diagnosible as to which individual one is malf'ing-->"4" in reliability.
4 - Upgrade the Nav. system controls--they're SLOW.
(I can enter an address into my cellphone map app & have better route info, INCLUDING current traffic conditions, in "half" the time.
I spent over a year researching cars to buy when I finally got a job after college and I finally decided on the Mazdaspeed 3. I lucked out and found a Grand Touring model with the windows already tinted and it only had about 5K miles on it. I LOVE this car!! By far the best bang for your buck when it comes to performance cars. I am an aggressive driver and this car handles and BRAKES on a dime! The only problem I have ever had is the pistons have misfired a few times due to bad gasoline. Currently at about 34K miles and going strong! I also highly recommend getting the Test Pipe from StreetUnit.com, it's awesome and gives you a 20 HP boost for only $160!!
Turbo, 6 speed transmission, body styling, hp, torque