2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Review

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Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Strong turbocharged performance
  • sophisticated ride and handling
  • premium interior and features
  • hatchback utility
  • reasonable price
  • Pronounced torque steer
  • no automatic transmission
  • not available as sedan

With its energetic personality, rewarding handling and thoughtful features, the 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 is a must on any budget-minded enthusiast's test-drive list.

Vehicle overview

In the sport hatchback segment, the Mazdaspeed 3 has been the one to beat the past few years. Its combination of nimble handling, pin-you-to-the-seat turbo power, practicality and value have made the "Speed 3" a favorite among those looking for thrills on the cheap. It has also been a favorite among our staff, having won most of the comparison tests we've thrown it into.

At the heart of the 2011 Mazdaspeed 3's appeal is its turbocharged 2.3-liter engine. Packing 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, this turbo-4 is a hard charger and will get you to 60 mph in a quick 6.3 seconds. The downside, though, is that it's almost too much power for the front-drive Mazda 3 chassis; nailing the throttle can result in a notable amount of torque steer. That said, it's easily managed and reminds you that this potent hot hatch demands respect from your right foot. The precise steering, buttoned-down suspension and sticky tires make the MS3 fun in the corners, too.

Beyond the spirited driving experience, other key attributes of the Speed 3 include a well-trimmed cabin boasting solid fit and finish as well as some features (either standard or optional) that you might not expect in this segment. You also get a fair amount of utility, too. Thanks to its decent-sized rear seats and 42.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, the Speed 3 can handle just about anything life throws at you.

If we were to level a complaint about the Mazdaspeed 3, it'd be that it's almost too sport-oriented. You can only get it with a manual transmission, for instance, and its firm ride quality and road noise might seem a bit harsh for people living in areas with poorly maintained pavement. The more mature Volkswagen GTI, in comparison, is easier to live with on a daily basis.

There are also other options for an affordable hot hatch, like the stylish Mini Cooper S and the all-wheel-drive 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX. You might even consider coupes like the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro V6, 2011 Ford Mustang V6 and 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Though we definitely recommend Mazda's spicy Speed 3, there's quite a spread in this hot hatch buffet so we suggest sampling all via test-drives if you're not sure what flavor might appeal to you most.

2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 models

The 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 is a four-door hatchback available in one trim level known as Sport. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, high-performance summer tires, a limited-slip differential, foglights, full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, front sport seats, leather and cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a digital turbo-boost gauge, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker stereo with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering wheel controls.

The Mazdaspeed Tech package adds keyless ignition/entry, rain-sensing wipers, automatic/adaptive bi-xenon headlights, rear LED taillights, an integrated compact navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo and a six-CD changer. Satellite radio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are stand-alone options.

2011 Highlights

For 2011 the Mazdaspeed 3 continues unchanged except for minor equipment additions to the available Technology package.

Performance & mpg

The Mazdaspeed 3 is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. All that thrust is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission equipped with a limited-slip differential.

In performance testing, the Speed 3 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds – quick, though about midpack for its class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Though the 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 itself hasn't been crash tested, the similar Mazda 3 five-door hatchback upon which it's based has been tested. In government testing, the Mazda 3 scored five out of five stars for driver and front passenger protection in a frontal crash, five stars for front side protection and four stars for rear side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Mazda 3 its highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side crash tests.

In Edmunds brake testing the Mazdaspeed 3 came to a stop from 60 mph in only 113 feet, which is commendable among other hatchbacks in its class.


Routing 280 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels is usually a recipe for annoying amounts of steering-wheel-tugging torque steer. This phenomenon is certainly present in the 2011 Mazdaspeed 3, though the engine's torque-limiting software helps keep it manageable for the most part.

In any case, there's no doubt that the Speed 3 is one of the best-handling and most entertaining hot hatches on a winding road. Impressively precise, the steering provides plenty of communication and faithfully transmits road information like few front-wheel-drive cars can. Considering the car's performance potential, the suspension manages to also provide a fairly compliant ride, though the Mazdaspeed 3 ultimately isn't as comfortable as other models like the GTI.

Read our Mazdaspeed 3 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test


The Mazdaspeed variant differs from the regular Mazda 3 with its upgraded gauges and sport front seats with standard black leather upholstery with cloth inserts. The pattern of the upholstery with its red dots reminds us of a 1990s Nike athletic shirt, but otherwise the Mazdaspeed 3 boasts the same top-shelf interior design, quality and features as the regular 3. The Speed 3 also has the same optional navigation system, which is functional but somewhat limited by its small display screen.

The front seat offers a wide range of adjustment (though no power adjustment is available) and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is a welcome feature. Some may lament that no sedan body style is available, but the standard hatch allows for a greater level of practicality. The cargo area provides 17 cubic feet of space with the rear seats raised and expands to 42.8 with them lowered.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.88 out of 5 stars
2011 Speed 3, Initial Review
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Traded in '09 GT hatch,(2.3, 5M),a very good car. Had the new Speed 3 for just over a week, 1100 miles with a trip from mid MI to the UP. Car feels more substantial, much stronger and more firmly planted than the regular Mazda 3. Very good brakes and steering. Shifter better than I expected. The Tech Package and new shift pattern have me on a learning curve. Good driver's seat. Power in 1st and 2nd is scary, torque steer, but manageable. In third and up, power flow is great. Even in 6th, power is right there for passing at highway speeds. Read out showed 29.4mpg for the trip, paper/pencil 28.9. Great for a new, tight power train. Nice touring car for 1 or 2. Can't be beat for the price!
5 out of 5 stars
Best Car for the Money!
Bao Q.,10/21/2010
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I have owned several different sport cars, and the most impressive car in my recent memory was still the 02 BMW 330C. However, after owning this car for two weeks now, I can confirm that this is a better car and much more affordable than the 3-series. I tested the new Subaru WRX in the morning and planned a backup with the MS3. Surprisingly, the MS3 became the target purchase right after I drove it. The main reason I don’t like the WRX is that the gear box is little bit shaky, while the MS3’s box is rock solid. In addition, the MS3 is much roomier than the WRX. Its back seat can fit two child seats comfortably! Thanks to MS3, a family man can still drive a high performance sport car now! Ano
4.63 out of 5 stars
All this for less than $25,000?!?!?!
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Just picked up Black Mica Speed3 with tech package 3 days ago. Paid EXACTLY the price edmunds TMV said I should including Mazda's current $500 incentive. Under $25,000 including tax (traded in a vehicle to offset costs). About 10 seconds into the ride home and I was never quite as confident of making a good decision when purchasing a new car. You literally cannot stop your self from having fun driving this car. So much value for the price. Once on the highway, I could obtain 30-31 mpg running 60mph in 6th. 2 car seats fit ok in the back. I have to slide my seat forward just a bit when my son rides with me. I wouldn't buy this as your primary family car. Overall VERY pleased. Zoom-Zoom.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Impressive for the $$$ spent
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
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.

More about the 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3

Used 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Overview

The Used 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 is offered in the following submodels: Mazdaspeed 3 Hatchback. Available styles include Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6M). The Used 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual. The Used 2011 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 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3?

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Which used 2011 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) 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 for sale near. 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 2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.

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Should I lease or buy a 2011 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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