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First Drive: MazdaSpeed 3

Which end of a high-performance car gets the power matters. A lot.

by on Feb.24, 2012

Is the MazdaSpeed 3 fast? Well, yeah.

Here’s the deal with the MazdaSpeed 3: There simply is no way to get this much performance and this much horsepower for this little money anywhere else. But to accomplish that, compromises will have to be made.

The Speed 3 starts with the small Mazda 3 hatchback, which is a very good starting point, much better, in fact than another economy car turned super sports compact, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

We Drive It Before You Buy It!

But instead of competing directly with the Evo, and the Subaru WRX, which both put their power to the pavement through all four wheels, Mazda decided to aim for a lower price point. To do that, it pummels its front wheels – and only its front wheels – with 263 turbocharged horses and 280 lb.-ft. torque. The benefit is a low base price – $24,495, including destination.

This is gen 2 of the Speed 3 and Mazda has spent considerable time and effort trying to tame the front-wheel-drive nastiness out of the car. Did it work? Let’s find out.

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First Drive: Mazda CX-7 i SV

Base version of sexy crossover could use a bit more power.

by on Dec.21, 2010

The Mazda CX-7 now has a base model with a normally aspirated four cylinder.

From the time Mazda introduced it, the CX-7 seemed like a cool, sporty crossover, just with the wrong engine. The 2.3-liter turbocharged direct-injected four cylinder, such a wild and lusty engine in the MazdaSpeed 3 and the short-lived MazdaSpeed 6, was an odd choice for what is really a fairly big vehicle.

Fuel economy was also not a strong suit for the CX-7, which hit the market as a 2007 model. For 2010, Mazda responded to customer requests for a more fuel-efficient powertrain when it did a mild makeover of its sexy two-row crossover. Rated at 18 city and 25 highway with front-wheel drive, those numbers were hard to achieve because the little turbo seemed to have to work fairly hard to push the CX-7.

The new, base CX-7 comes with a normally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder. Rated at 161 horsepower and 161 lb.-ft. of torque, the new engine comes with a rating of 20/28 mpg.

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While all-wheel-drive is an option with the turbo motor, the less-powerful engine is front-wheel-drive only.

The refresh also includes mildly revised styling, inside and out, plus a revised structure and improved suspension.
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