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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.