Mazda hot hatch: the second-generation Mazdaspeed3

With increased popularity of hot hatches, Mazda came up with the Mazdaspeed3. The second-generation 2010-2013 Mazdaspeed3 sold in North America is
2010 Mazdaspeed3 2010 Mazdaspeed3, photo: Mazda.
only available with front-wheel drive. The only engine option is a turbocharged 2.3L 4-cylinder engine with direct injection.
Compared to the regular 5-door Mazda 3, the Mazdaspeed3 has a more aggressive appearance with a larger rear spoiler and an upgraded black interior with a red graphics in the upholstery and red stitching. The second-generation Mazdaspeed3 offers a 6-speed manual transmission with a wider 2nd through 5th gear ratio than the previous generation. A torque-sensing conical limited-slip differential (LSD) is standard. The Speed3 has larger diameter stabilizers with longer mount spans and wider Dunlop 18-inch tires. Front brakes have larger diameter 12.6-inch ventilated discs.

Is it fast? Oh yes! Motor Trend lists the 0 to 60 time at 5.8 seconds, and if you want more power, there are plenty of upgrades. Is it a good car to buy? It's a great car, but there are a few things buyers should be aware of.

The Mazdaspeed3 interior is snug and nicely finished. Sporty seats offer good support and with a tilting/telescoping steering it's easy to find a perfect seating position.
2012 2011 Mazdaspeed3 interior 2011 Mazdaspeed3 interior.
The instrument cluster has a boost gauge. The 60/40 split rear seat backs fold down, offering up to 17 cubic feet of cargo space.

Driving the Speed3 is pure pleasure. With 18-inch tires, it has responsive steering and a firm sporty ride. The Mazdaspeed3 has an Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering (EHPAS). How it works: there is an electric power steering pump that is located in front of the right wheel. When the steering is operated, the pump turns on and supplies hydraulic fluid under pressure to the conventional hydraulic steering rack. This type of steering assist delivers a better road feel than pure electric power steering. The only issue is that you will notice some torque steer on hard acceleration, but it's expected from a front-wheel drive car with such a powerful engine.
Mazdaspeed3 gauges
Mazdaspeed3 interior
The 263-horsepower 2.3L MZR engine is the key to this vehicle's performance. It's codenamed L3T; Mazda refers to it as Direct Injection Spark Ignition or DISI. It's an all-aluminum 4-cylinder turbocharged, intercooled & direct-injected engine. Does it have a timing belt?
2013 Mazdaspeed3 2.3L turbo DISI engine 2013 Mazdaspeed3 2.3L turbo DISI engine.
No, this engine uses a timing chain that does not need to be changed at regular intervals.
Is the 2.3L DISI a good engine? It's a strong solid engine that will last with good care, but it's extremely sensitive to a lack of maintenance or poor oil quality. Mazda used the same engine in the Mazdaspeed6 and the CX-7 sport SUV and there have been reports of engine and turbo failures, especially in the CX-7. There are less reported engine problems in the Mazdaspeed3, probably because the Speed3 owners are more careful in maintaining their cars and use synthetic oil. A used 2.3L turbo DISI engine is priced considerably higher than the 2.5L L5 engine found in the Mazda3 GT. This means that replacing an engine in the Speed3 could be costly.

What are the Mazdaspeed3 common problems? We spoke to a mechanic who previously worked at a Mazda dealership. According to him, the majority of problems are the type you can expect from a car like this: Check Engine light issues, leaking struts, shock absorbers, noisy wheel bearings and a sagging top engine mount. Control arms are also known to go bad at higher mileage. Earlier, some vehicles had issues with headlights fogging up from the inside. For people looking to buy a used Mazdaspeed3, he advised to have the engine checked carefully and watch out for oil leaks originating from the intake side of the turbocharger. A worn out engine is more likely to have more oil leaks. The turbocharger can also fail at higher mileage. Signs of a failing turbocharger include a whirring noise from the turbo and white smoke from the exhaust. The rattling noise at a startup coming from the timing chain area is a sign of a problem with the VVT actuator or chain drive. The clutch must be tested for wear. If the vehicle has HID lights, they are expensive to replace and must be checked carefully. The 18-inch rims are also not cheap; a vibration noticeable at highway speed might be an indication of a bent rim. In this case, all rims must be checked carefully. Tires will wear out fast if not rotated regularly. The wheel alignment needs to be done at least once in two years if you want precise handling.

The EPA rates the 2010-2013 Mazdaspeed3 at 18/25 mpg city/highway or 21 mpg combined on premium gasoline.

2010 Mazdaspeed3 U.S. data:
Engine: Type-L3T 2.3L Direct Injection Spark Ignition 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT (DISI) Turbocharged 16-valve 4-cylinder.
Horsepower (SAE net): 263 @ 5500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.): 280 @ 3000 rpm
Front Brakes: Ventilated discs 12.6 inches
Rear Brakes: Solid discs 11.02 inches
Recommended Fuel: Premium unleaded (91 octane required)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 U.S. gallons