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2012 Mazdaspeed 3 – Wicked Performance Combines With Vast Value


Reasonable price; strong turbocharged performance; hatchback utility; premium features and interior; precise handling.


Not available as sedan; pronounced torque steer; lacks automatic transmission.


2012 Mazdaspeed 3 is a performance tuned, high powered version of the Mazda 3 hatchback and a top pick for budget minded driving enthusiasts. It offers energetic personality, thoughtful features and rewarding handling. Fierce, sporty and agile, the Mazdaspeed 3 takes design cues from the company’s award winning Nagare concept vehicle. Its front end gets a lower air dam and round halogen headlamps, which frame a 5-point black grille. Wedge shaped subtle curving Nagare-like character lines down the sides and in the hood provides the 3 a strong sense of motion, while the 18-inch aggressively styled alloy wheels and low profile performance tires. All Mazdaspeed 3 models provide available high performance LED-type taillamps that burn brighter, last longer and react faster unlike the traditional bulbs. They use the company’s Triple H construction system and its steel reinforcements increase the strength of critical body areas and improve basic structural integrity. Additional benefits include greater impact protection and enhanced overall handling.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3
The Mazdaspeed 3 is basically a sport compact hatchback developed and designed for 2007 model year by Mazdaspeed, as a high performance version of Mazda 3. The company revealed this vehicle at Geneva Auto Show in February 2006 and the same model is marketed as the Mazdaspeed Axela in Japan and as the Mazdaspeed 3 in North America. Pricing begins at $22,835 including destination charge and it’s designed for competing with the newest generation of hatchback models, including the Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit GTI and the Dodge Caliber SRT-4. The Mazdaspeed 3 is powered by the same 2.3 liter turbocharged DISI MZR inline four-cylinder powerplant from Mazdaspeed Atenza also called Mazda 6 MPS in South Africa, Australia and Europe and Mazdaspeed 6 in North America. It generates 196kW and 380 newton meters of torque, when running on 91 octane gasoline. The engine is matched to the front wheel drive system instead of complex four-wheel drive system found on Mazdaspeed Atenza.

The Mazdaspeed 3 was also equipped with a GKN limited slip differential along with antilock brakes, a six-speed manual transmission, dynamic stability control and traction control. To limit wheel slip, boost in the first gear will be limited to produce a maximum of 170 kW; boost in 2nd gear is also limited. The amount of boost reduction is determined by the steering angle and gear selection. There isn’t reduction of boost 3rd or above and uses a 5-door hatchback body of Mazda3, though it has subtle exterior styling differences and extra structural bracing. Volvo-sourced 280 mm rear and 320 mm front brake discs hide under 18 inch wheels. In various road tests, the Mazdaspeed 3 accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 6 seconds with skidpad numbers in the .87g to .91g range.

The Mazdaspeed 3 GT and Sport both include air curtains, front and side driver and passenger airbags, signature red stitched seams throughout, logo embroidered racing seats, aluminum GT-style pedals, logo sill-plates, automatic climate control, 18 inch Magnesium alloy wheels and steering wheel audio and cruise controls. Extra cross members within the body and chassis frame stiffen the vehicle for enhancing control and handling under heavy acceleration and braking besides quelling torsional flex. ABS brakes assist corner and wet-weather braking, lateral and through ventilated disc brakes on all wheels offer extreme stopping power with reduced fade. Traction Control and DSC on all Speed3 models is also standard.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3 interior
The 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 retained the Turbo MZR 2.3 DISI engine. Comprehensive details and pictures were unveiled in the year 2009 at Geneva Motor Show and its North American launch was at 2009 New York Auto Show. The MZR 2.3 liter powerplant remains, nevertheless new ECU tweaks will offer for a more useful power curve; in addition the gear ratios have been redesigned. The functional hood scoop was added for enabling for a denser charge to the top mounted intercooler, while also keeping heatsoak to a minimum. The upgraded vehicle comes with some additional weight that should be offset by the gear and ECU upgrades.

The instant you touch the Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System button on the door, your 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 recognizes you and comes to life before your eyes. The door unlocks. A groundbreaking, sequential Welcome Lighting System warmly illuminates the interior. Settle into the eight-way power driver’s seat, then start the engine with the push of a button. And just wait until you get under way. There is a leather trimmed tilt steering wheel with built-in illuminated standard controls for audio, Bluetooth and cruise control. Also available at your command are Bi-Xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, standard dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats with five settings.

The 2012 Mazdaspeed 3’s design evolves its visual identity for creating a more aggressive, sportier appearance. The result is a more emotional design, which takes the agile, sporty nature of MAZDA3 five-door to the new level. It is easily distinguished from its siblings. Start at the front, where round foglights and a lower air dam frame a metallic-black, organic grille. The hood houses an intercooler scoop for enhancing charge air cooling, while the front fenders are flared for containing its wide tires. From side view, the 18 x 7.5-inch aluminum wheel design is exclusive, but modeled closely on the expressive, very lightweight and deeply sculpted forged 19-inch wheels on RX-8 R3. A low stance and sculpted side skirts also give away its sinister motives. From the back, a large, roof mounted rear wing and large dual exhaust tips give it away.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3 interior
The 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 features a six-speed manual transmission, handling which is sharp enough to take on legitimate sportscars and a brawny turbocharged powerplant. As budget oriented hatchbacks go, this model is unquestionably one of the best sold today. It is powered by a turbocharged engine that generates 263 horsepower and goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds. Technologically, it isn’t the best time for this type of car, the four wheel drive Subaru WRX can be a full second faster in test situations, but the Mazda is still pretty much tops in the real world. On winding roads, it really shows its stuff with a buttoned down suspension, sticky tires and precise steering. The choice that tells the world you aren’t the least bit willing to water down your convictions. One that says you would sooner take a taxi than settle for a car that didn’t deliver real driving exhilaration. The Mazda name is infused with insightful engineering, innovative design, impeccable craftsmanship and spirited performance.

The 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 offers ample practicality and value like other hatchbacks in the market. Passenger space is generous, and with 42.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, it is a rare sporting car, which can help you haul a load of stuff from Costco. The well trimmed interior boasts few features (either optional or standard) which you might not expect in this class and solid fit and finish. However, the Mazdaspeed 3 does have some inherent trade-offs. The Mazdaspeed 3 has a pronounced level of interior noise and rides firmly. There are plenty of other models in the market such as the Volkswagen GTI, the Subaru Impreza WRX, the stylish Volvo C30 and Mini Cooper S.

Variants, Body Types and Features

The 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 is a 4-door hatchback, which is offered in a lone trim called Touring.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3 interior
Standard features include a limited slip differential, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a leather wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel, an adjustable front center armrest, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a trip computer and a Bose 10-speaker premium surround sound stereo system with an auxiliary audio jack, steering wheel controls and a CD player.

The Technology package of Mazdaspeed 3 adds a blind spot monitoring system, automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, automatic wipers, a navigation system with steering wheel controls and a compact display screen and satellite radio (available separately). A six-CD changer and an iPod interface are offered as dealer installed accessories.

What’s Beneath the Hood of 2012 Mazdaspeed 3?

Motivation for the 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 comes from a four-cylinder 2.3 liter turbocharged engine, which is good for pulsating 263 horsepower with 280 pound feet of torque. The engine is mated to six-speed manual transmission that sends power to the front wheels. In performance testing, the Mazdaspeed 3 accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the time range of 6.3 seconds. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg highway, 18 mpg city and 21 mpg in combined driving.

Safety & Reliability

Standard safety features on 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and front side airbags. The blind spot warning system is integrated with optional Mazdaspeed Tech package. In brake testing, it came to a stop in just 113 feet from 60 miles per hour, which is excellent.

In government testing, the Mazdaspeed 3 got an overall rating of four stars with five stars for overall frontal crash protection and only 3 stars for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Mazda 3 its highest possible rating of Good in its side impact, roof strength and frontal offset tests.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3 engine

Special Features and Cockpit Design

Nagare inspired design defines the exterior and continues inside that features color coordination and materials chosen for exciting the passengers and driver every time they take a seat. Your days of having to settle for bland, boring and basic transportation are over. All thanks to the 2012 Mazdaspeed 3’s complete menu of unexpected treats; starting with bold, aerodynamic styling, which actually works for boosting fuel economy; eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat; dual-zone automatic climate control; dual power remote and heated outside mirrors; advanced Keyless Entry and Push Button Start; Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio capabilities and 10-speaker Bose Surround Sound Audio System.

The 2012 Mazdaspeed 3’s groundbreaking Multi Information Display, which stylishly incorporates audio system info, systems data, trip computer calculations, maintenance reminders and ambient temperature and in vivid color with available compact navigation system. It also features standard Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio capabilities and auxiliary audio input jack, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Apple iPod Integration system, all linked to a sound system you have to hear to believe. Proving that when it comes to the latest and greatest in all things techno, Mazdaspeed 3 is beyond smart. It’s just plain gifted.

The stylish interior refinements in Mazdaspeed 3 might well inspire the kind of superlatives normally associated with pricey luxury cars. For instance, the meticulously stitched leather accents that grace its high bolstered sport seats, the shifter and steering wheel, graceful, sweeping lines, subtle textures and superb detailing come together with uncompromising fit and finish. In fact, there are quite a few words that describe the level of craftsmanship you will find throughout the all-new Mazdaspeed 3.

Driving Impressions

Regardless, there is no doubt that the 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 is one of the most entertaining and best handling hatchbacks on a winding road. Performance meets fuel efficiency and fuel efficiency meets performance. It is an ultimate win-win. No matter which advanced design engine powers your 2012 Mazdaspeed 3, you will enjoy both great fuel economy and spirited performance. It features a responsive 2.3 liter engine, which delivers a pump-friendly fuel economy in both city and highway driving. It also fuses top shelf performance with excellent fuel economy.

2012 Mazdaspeed 3
The spirited, responsive performance of 2012 Mazdaspeed 3’s engine is matched by a precisely tuned four-wheel independent suspension system. Standard on all models, this sophisticated suspension fuses front MacPherson struts with an advanced multilink design at the rear, along with rear and front stabilizer bars. Also standard on all 3 models are a Traction Control System and Dynamic Stability Control. Antilock Brake System (ABS) and Power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes provide you better stopping power. Even the Tire Pressure Monitoring System that warns you when one or more tires are low is impressive. Overall, the 2012 Mazdaspeed 3 is known as a premium, attractive small car at a reasonable price.


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