2008 Mazdaspeed3 Review – Mazda Go Zoom-Zoom

Expert Reviews Mazda

By Gary Chan

2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed3

I was so excited to hear that the Mazdaspeed3 was available to test drive. I’ve always loved small agile cars and this epitomized that ideal with power to spare. The field has narrowed over the years and the Mazda is the first one in a while to bring excitement to the tarmac.


  • Powerful engine
  • Strong brakes
  • HID headlights
  • Driving ergonomics
  • Suspension (perfect for performance driving)


  • Somewhat notchy shifter
  • No remote rear hatch release
  • LCD information limited to one line and does not auto scroll
  • Suspension (a bit firm for around town driving)

Driving Impressions
First impression of the Mazdaspeed3 was it’s amazing acceleration. Dang, it moves. Being only 3200 lbs with 260+ hp and 280 lb-ft of torque on tap, I expected it to move and was not disappointed. One of the first things I noticed was that first gear was sometimes hard to find after accidentally starting in 3rd gear a few times. After a few false starts I learned to just push the stick all the way to the left before engaging first gear. To minimize torque steer, Mazda’s engineers have worked their electronic magic limiting the amount of power/torque available in the first two gears. It works well, but you can still feel the tug of the wheel under hard acceleration in those gears. I wonder what it would have been without the electronic intervention? Even with a little torque steer the responsive steering complements the firm suspension. Night time driving is a joy with a set HID headlamps that are amazingly powerful and cut an even, wide swath in front of the car.

Mazdaspeed3 turbocharged 2.3L Mazdaspeed3 exhaust Mazdaspeed3 billet cap

With a platform shared with the Volvo C30/S40, the car feels very rigid with almost zero flex. All of the doors close easily and solidly. There were no loose parts or extraneous sounds from the body or interior during the test drive. If you open the hood, you’ll notice that everything is clearly labeled. And you even get an anodized red billet oil cap emblazoned with “Mazdaspeed”. Strangely absent is a tower strut brace. No matter as there are many manufacturers of cross braces found on the Internet. The body and paint is very good for a hopped-up compact car. Panel gaps are consistent around the car and trim pieces fit like puzzle pieces in their respective locations.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
This is a sports car so I wasn’t disappointed when I sat in the driver seat and found myself well bolstered in supportive seats. With a combination of leather and cloth, the seats offer plenty of grip preventing body movement in aggressive driving. The pattern on the cloth parts is like a textured carbon fiber weave with red-contrast stitching around the perimeter. The seats are not powered, but easily adjusted using two-levers on the lower left. The steering wheel telescopes and tilts like many cars these days allowing me to quickly find a custom driving position for myself. You can go down to your local Kragens Auto Part store, and pick up some aluminum pedal covers to dress up your interior, but Mazda designers have saved you the trip by supplying beautiful drilled aluminum pedals some with rubber nubs for grip. Not being a very tall person, and after all was dialed-in, I found the Mazda driving ergonomics suited my frame well.

2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 interior

The three-spoke steering wheel (with dimpled leather on the left and right hand positions) has audio and cruise controls which are clearly labeled. It’s just the right diameter with the leather stitching matching the same contrast stitching as the seats. Behind the steering wheel, you’ll find the speedometer (center), tach (left), and engine temp/fuel/trip info (right) in three circular gauges. All gauges are clearly legible with large numbers or letters regardless of the lighting conditions.

There’s not much to say about the center console. All of the HVAC and radio controls are clearly labeled with black-on-white abbreviations or icons. My only complaint was the small LCD screen which became evident when using the satellite radio. Most screens display the song name and artist, but on the Mazda, you had to manually toggle through to get the info; same with music genres … small issue, but the engineers could have easily made the screen taller to make information navigation easier on the user.

2008 Mazda Mazdaspeed3 Mazdaspeed3 aluminum pedals Mazdaspeed seat

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  • derek says:

    Mazda plans to recall about 514,000 vehicles worldwide to repair power-steering systems because of the risk that they could lose power steering without warning.

    The recall will affect the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 5 manufactured in Japan from 2007 to 2009. Currently, Mazda has filed recalls for 215,000 vehicles in the United States and more than 10,000 in China. The recalls will also extend to Europe and Australia.

    The recall comes about a year after Mazda started fixing vehicles in Japan for the same problem. But Mazda told the NHTSA that since the “occurrence rate was low” in the United States it issued only a technical service bulletin to dealers telling them how to fix the problem.

    So far, three accidents related to the defect have been reported in the United States. None of these accidents resulted in death or injury.

    Mazda says the problem is that rust can form inside a high-pressure pipe in the power steering system and allow particles to enter the motorized power steering pump, causing it to shut down to prevent the pump from overheating.

    The automaker said it would begin to notify affected owners of the recall in September and send notices to all owners by February.

  • pedro says:


  • dhiyaa says:

    iwant to by spear prts for zoom_zoom year2004,2005 online

  • Brian Smith says:

    “Zoom Zoom” best describes the Mazdaspeed3. I bought my ,08 last month and installed a $300 MSCAI(cold air intake) adding an extra 20-25hp and…… Holy Cow!!! Just for reference sake, my previous car was a Mustang GT Bullit so I am used to performance(not easily impressed). This is a good solid buy for under $25K, I HIGHLY recommend.

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