It's been a year since I got my MS3 with Tech Package. I come from 96 5series/ 01 Infiniti so I expect a lot of features, quality interior and ample power, plus I wanted utility. MS3 delivers all this, and for only $25k. Checked out WRX (poor interior) and GTI (not many features and low power). MS3 won hands down. Love every minute of driving it, even a year and 6k miles later. The ride is pretty firm - you feel a lot of the road through the sit, and bumps can shake your soul out , but it corners like on rails and steers like a go cart. The torque steer is very manageable, and is a minor bother in 1st gear only. The audio system is great, climate control works like a charm. Great job, Mazda!
Turbo power, adaptive HIDs with auto-on feature, satelite radio, navigation, Bose sound system, 6CD mp3 changer, leather/alcantara seats, cornering, utility, keyless access (very addictive feature, you don't realize it until you come to another car and try to open the door/start the car without getting a key out of the pocket), day/night dashboard lighting, intuitive and large front AC/audio controls. And did I mention turbo power?
Only have a few minor gripes.
1. The front tires are more than half-worn after 6k miles, although I do spirited starts often. Plan to replace with non-OEMs.
2. The keyless system has an inconvenience - when you turn off the engine, the stereo turns off as well, and you have to press start button again if you want to listen to music without engine running. Hope they fix it in the next gen.
3. The engine is starting to show its age - the torque doesn't come in full until 3k rpm and falls off after 5k, so you have to rev the engine carefully to get the stated acceleration. If rpms fall below 3k you are in the turbo-pit. Hope they move the peak torque lower next - 2k rpm or so.
I bought my vehicle in january 2011 at Cerritos Mazda new. 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 Black mica, Exellent performance but you will need to buy new tires at 15,000 miles each tire will cost you $250. or more and also you'll need an aligment because my tires they were wear out from the inside. warranty will not cover poor aligment or tires wear out to early.
My 2011 MS3 is now 3 weeks old with roughly 1200 miles on it. Just about every review on this site is dead on with observations of handling and power. Mine is in Velocity Red and turns a few heads in my neighborhood as well. Styling is subjective but it's really hard to argue the price-to-performance ratio. Also, I read a lot of criticism about the small multi-function nav screen but I have found mine to be of high quality, great resolution, and it gets me where I want to go without fuss.
-Tech package is a must-have.
-Very roomy with the rear seats folded forward, great for tailgating.
-Great supportive seats, even on long trips
-Dual AC controls very easy to learn and very powerful AC
-Great feeling positive shifter
-If you have ever driven a race-car then this clutch will feel just right to you. Take-up is almost right off the firewall and there is a VERY small engagement range.
It is more like an on/off switch clutch. Took some getting used to coming from a less sporting vehicle. A clutch like this enables fast gear changes putting power back on the wheels quickly which is great for track use but requires a learning curve to be smooth on the streets, especially starting from a stop and the 1-2 shift.
-There is quite a bit of road noise coming in from the wheels. I'm not sure if that's just the tires or what but some road noise isolation would be a welcome improvement.
You get 280 lb/ft at from a car that costs 23k to start. Mazda has made a true winner here and the car has a lot of plus points. Its comes loaded in standard form and Interior is very well laid out for a compact with true seating for 5. The handling is very sharp and the ride is on the stiff side. The only downside is the exterior styling which doesn't cut it for some buyers. 6 speed is precise and its never hard to find the right gear. I think its a great platform to improve on and sort out all the quirks for the next gen. The new ECU is not as easy to mod as prior years even though the motor is the same. I would give the speed 3 a serious look before pulling the plug on any other hatchback
Suspension, and tight and accurate steering. 18s standard, can be made to get for 300hp with just a few mods
Mazda should offer some sort of DSG or Auto transmission for people who commute. Please get a new front bumper to wipe that smile off.