Well, I drove the now infamous Focus ST as well as the VW GTI and GLI and came back to the Speed3. The Focus was very slow to build boost and make power, felt very darty and followed every rut in the road. The newer GTI didn't have the magic that the MKV GTI possessed. It didn't have the instant torque feeling, maybe because I didn't floor it, very different throttle calibration possibly. The Jetta GLI was just too vanilla, it doesn't stand out in any real way other than the interior was pretty neat. The Speed3 entertains in normal driving like no other. Power comes on immediately, while the suspension is much more aggressive, it's well dampened.
I test drove and heavily researched for 3+ months before I acquired a 2013 MS3 w/ Tech Pkg. I looked at all "classes" with budget of up to $45000 . I looked at Subaru WRX & WRS-STI, Acura TSX, Acura TL SH-AWD, Genesis 2.0T, GTI, BMW 328, etc. I needed a practical 4-door sports car which would provide convenience, great looking exterior, "every day" drive-ability, fast, good interior, excellent handling, good on gas when not "pushed", etc. I Could not ignore the amount of money I'd save with an MS3 while getting everything I wanted. If you love motorcycles, you'll love MS3--simple! :) Love it!!
I was looking for a hot hatchback and the choice was the Mazdaspeed 3 or Focus ST. I was fortunate that the local dealer carried both brands so was able to test them literally side by side. They are both outstanding in their genre. The choice came down to a small price advantage for the MS3, a bit more power and my wife liked the looks better. Gas mileage had been a concern when looking, but at least here in Florida, it is much better than rated. I average 24 around town and around 30 highway. All around a really fun ride with a bit of a firm ride. The gas mileage is still doing better than the factory rating, so no complaints there. One other annoyance that is apparently shared with the other Mazda 3 models is that a fair amount of road noise comes into the cabin. It's a fun ride, but the noise becomes a bit annoying on long trips.
This is a car for those who enjoy driving and performance. It is fast and you need to be very aware to avoid tickets. Get it on some back roads and enjoy the handling. Need to overtake, look and press the gas pedal and you're past ZOOM - Zoom - love it
The Mazdaspeed 3 is the most fun car to drive under $25,000. It is a very spectacular machine in more ways than one. Personally, I can attest that after six years of continuous driving, this car delivers more than what's on paper and the specs suggest. I am very sad this guy's not longer produced. I hope Mazda recovers the spirit of performance and innovation, going out on a limb to make a vehicle that is unique and that, in turn, makes the competition look thoroughly boring and irrelevant. If that's not the case in three or four years from now I will regret to leave my Mazda behind and join Subaru's wrx sti.