I am still the intern, it is now the weekend. Welcome back to Weekends with the Intern.
The Mazdaspeed 3 is a car that is sadly no longer in production, and unlike Spencer and myself, Jack bough his car used. However, that only means he spent less money than Spencer and me. This brings me to the first important part about Jack’s car. I explained in the last article that we all have fun, sporty hatchbacks, but that we all gotten these cars in very different manners. Jack happened to choose the budget route. This Mazda only cost him $13,000, making it by far the least expensive car of the three. However, just because it is the least expensive, doesn’t mean that he sacrifices much in driving pleasure and comfort.
This Mazdaspeed 3 has a 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces a whopping 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It puts the power down to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. According to many sources, the car will do 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, making it the second fastest of the three cars to 60. By these numbers, you can put together that Jack has not done any serious modifications to his car, unlike Spencer. The only upgrade that has been made to the car is a set of sticky, Michelin Pilot Supersport tires. Additionally, Jack has platidipped the badges on the back of his car black, to add his own personal flare. Largely, the car remains more-or-less stock. But don’t let that fool you.
This car is a hoot! The little 2.3L engine is a torque monster and this car will gladly tear up any mountain road you throw at it. It has been said before about the Mazda, and I will say it again, this car is one of the most connected, raw driving experiences I have ever had. The steering is pretty good, and the pedals provide beautiful feedback.
Everything feels direct and pure. The turn-in is sharp and it grips like crazy with those Pilot Supersport tires. I didn’t expect to like this car as much as I do, but it is really good fun. The exhaust has a very nice hum to it and the engine loves to rev. The boost comes on strong at about 3,000 rpm and the power keeps going all the way to redline. Overall, this car is a raw driving experience that leaves you only wanting more. What a car.
As much praise as I give the car for its driving dynamics, there are a few shortcomings that come with this car. First is the interior which, like the Subaru, leaves a bit to be desired. There is heavy use of cheaper plastic trim and the car’s economy roots become somewhat evident with the interior. As such, there is a decent amount of road noise and the ride is a bit stiff. But like the Subaru, it is a perfectly fine place to be, just nothing to write home about.
Another thing that bothered me a little bit is this car’s torque steer. For those who don’t know what torque steer is, on front wheel drive cars, where the front wheels both turn and receive power from the engine, the engine’s rotational energy will sometimes cause the front wheels to turn under heavy acceleration. On this car especially, the torque steer can kick in quite strong when on boost. It isn’t a huge problem, as a little steering input will correct it immediately, but it can catch you off guard if you aren’t looking for it. It is just a manifestation of the car’s rawness, which can also be seen as a lack of refinement. Some people would be thrown off by this, but I can overlook it. The torque steer is there to remind you that this little Mazda means business, despite that ridiculous grin on its face.
This brings me to my last point, the styling. I didn’t touch on this with the Subaru, but I feel it is worth mentioning on this car. Like anything with cars, styling is highly subjective. Some people think the Mazda looks cute, some think its a bit ridiculous. I think it could look better. However, like Jack, I feel that the way this thing drives far outweighs the way it looks, especially at this price point.
Overall, I think Jack found an excellent car. Regardless of whether Jack had bought it new for $25,000 or bought it used for $13,000, this car would be an excellent value. The fact that he paid the latter is only a bonus. This car puts a grin on your face that is almost as large as the one on its face. Of course, like the other two cars, this is a hatchback, meaning it is quite practical. This is an excellent car for the college age car enthusiast, especially considering the price.
This marks the second installment of my once-weekly series, published every weekend. I hope you have enjoyed it! Be sure to come back next week where I will talk about the last of the college cars, my very own 2015 Volkswagen GTI.
Since Mazda stopped making the Mazdaspeed 3 in 2013, the world has been crying for the Japanese automaker to bring this hot hatch back. In the meantime, we have taken the current, non-speed version, on the track to see how it compares to the BMW i3. Watch the full video below: