Test Drive: 2013 MazdaSpeed3 Touring

?2013 MazdaSpeed3:? Stellar performance and value?

By Arv Voss

2013 MazdaSpeed3

Mazda?s venerable ?Hot Hatch? first appeared on the scene in 2006, and even before it actually became available in showrooms, driving enthusiasts had already categorized the MazdaSpeed3 as a winner in the front-drive performance car category.? It definitely lived up to that expectation and it has come to be regarded as an outstanding bargain as well.?The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 continues to live on as a great bargain while also continuing in its role as one of the finest blends of performance and practicality available in today?s performance marketplace.

A sporty and aggressive exterior design is complimented by the avant-garde interior, which displays the ultimate offering of Mazda?s ?Zoom-Zoom? philosophy in this 2013 version 5-door hatchback. The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 makes it possible to purchase one of the quickest and fastest front-wheel drive cars in today?s automotive marketplace (actually, perhaps in the world). The venerable ?Hot Hatch? is capable of ticking off 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds at a price amounting to less than $28,000 fully loaded. Not possible you say? Toss in an electronically limited top speed of 155.3 mph to ?sweeten the pot? even more.

2013 MazdaSpeed3  - Rearview

If you’re one of those negative minded types, it?s about time that you altered your perspective, because such a vehicle does exist in this factory engineered, lightweight, compact sports car. It sits low to the ground with an aggressive stance and literally flies (or likely would if it had wings for lift rather than simply the trailing edge, lift-gate-mounted spoiler whose purpose is to add downforce). It is a dream come true for the genuine performance junkie — someone who wishes to have it all, but for a price that doesn’t take all of their hard-earned green. It is the titleholder of Mazda?s Zoom-Zoom mantra.

2013 MazdaSpeed3 - Engine Compartment

The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 still comes powered by a 2.3-liter DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) Turbocharged/inter-cooled engine that delivers a whopping 263 horsepower @5,500 rpm while cranking out 280 pound feet of torque @ 3,000 rpm ? not bad at all for a four-banger. The engine is coupled to a close-ratio, 6-speed manual gearbox, that meters power to the front wheels, which happen to be 18-inch 5-?Y?-spoke alloy units, shod with performance rubber that fill up the wheel wells fore and aft quite nicely. The spoke design mimics the Mazda rotary engine symbol. The motor is a derivative of the same engine powering the CX-7 crossover SUV andthe MazdaSpeed6 sport sedan.

The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 is based on the highly successful Mazda3, taking everything that makes it desirable, but upping the ante considerably, with more style, more power and better handling while providing a greater value. The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 is the epitome of a unique driver’s car with important extra features such as sport-tuned exhaust, turbocharged engine, MazdaSpeed sport ?tuned independent suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, integrated floating rear roof spoiler and a sport-inspired interior. The body is highly rigid and when combined with the specially tuned chassis, significant contributions to the car’s deft handling characteristics are in serious evidence. Braking components are also enhanced, to better handle stopping chores that are a match for the high power output of the engine.

?2013 MazdaSpeed3 - Interior

The design impression of the MazdaSpeed3 Sport is one of a mini-wagon — from virtually any angle – a radical departure from the sedan-like form of the earlier MazdaSpeed3s. Styling cues that hint at the car’s true nature are: the large lower grille opening, crouched stance accentuated by the side rocker extensions, throaty dual exhaust and roof spoiler with integrated LED brake lights. Inside, the competitive look and functionality continue with highly supportive sport seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, aluminum rubber-studded control pedals and stainless steel sill or scuff plates.

The Nagare-inspired design is easily distinguished from stablemates. Starting up front, a lower air dam and round fog lights frame an organic, metallic-black grille, and the hood houses an intercooler scoop to improve charge air cooling, while the front fenders are flared to neatly contain the car?s wide tires.

Modifications? for the 2013 model year include: new contrasting exterior body?treatment, 18-inch Gunmetal alloy wheels, Black outer mirror with turn signal?lamps, Black rear roof inner spoiler, Black rear lower valance. Inside, the Speed3 adds a USB connection port and a Technology Package with a 5.8-inch full-color touch-screen navigation system, HD Radio? Technology, Pandora? audio application, Radio Broadcast Data System program information, SMS text message audio delivery and voice reply, E911 automatic emergency notification and Audio menu voice-command.

My test 2013 MazdaSpeed3 came with the exterior sprayed in Velocity Red Biocolor metallic, which was complemented by the Black interior featuring a Red graphic pattern on seating surfaces, dash and door panels and red stitching. The base price wasset at $24,200, while the final sticker climbed to $27,955. after adding the MazdaSpeed Tech Package which included: Bose?s 242-watt centerpoint 10-seaker surround sound audio system; an in-dash 6-disc CD changer (MP3 compatible); SIRIUS satellite radio with 6-month subscription; full-color MID with compact navigation; perimeter alarm; advanced keyless system; push-button start and Destination charges. As we already mentioned ? less than $28K — but you could spend less if you were so inclined.

SUMMARY:? The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 Sport is the real deal for the ?dyed-in-the-wool? performance aficionado. Visually, it appears to be a mini-wagon, or to some, perhaps an extended hatchback, but in a most pleasing manner either way. It simply looks HOT, which is highly appropriate, because it is. Acceleration is instantaneous, with more than enough power and torque to jerk the wheel from the driver’s control unless close attention is paid to the task at hand. By the same token, the car is docile enough to casually cruise one’s favorite boulevard in total comfort. The clutch takeup is a tad touchy off the line, and first gear is short.

Seating is both comfortable and supportive forward (there’s not a lot of room in the rear behind tall front occupants). Gauges and switchgear are placed for maximum ergonomic functionality, and now there?s a driver-oriented dashboard design that delivers a roomy, wrap-around, sporty feel featuring a new tachometer with red MAZDASPEED logo and a new LED turbo boost gauge between the driver meters. Handling characteristics include: nimble and athletic responsiveness, good on-center steering feel and surface feedback. The exhaust note is pleasingly throaty, and enough to make any gearhead grin. The fuel economy estimates register 18-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.

2013 MazdaSpeed3 - Wheels

Essentially, the MazdaSpeed3 comes with everything you need and nothing you don?t. It is without excess or exaggeration and the everyday user friendliness delivers comfort and functionality along with the stellar performance. On the negative side there?s the serious torque steer factor to deal with when prodded really hard, and for really tall drivers, the car?s low height requires tall occupants to enter gluteus maximus first ? once in however, there?s plenty of support up front.

Bottom-line, The MazdaSpeed3 continues to evolve and provides a major FUN factor in driving, pushing well beyond the base Mazda3 counterparts to a heightened and satisfying level of performance. It is turnkey ready to “kick asphalt and take names” – capable of competing with several more expensive import sports models at a huge savings ? and winning.

SPECIFICATIONS:?Mazda Speed3 Touring -?13

Base Price:?????????????? ??????????? $24,200.

Price as Tested:??????????? ??????????? $27,955.

Engine Type and Size:??????????? 2.3-liter Type L3T DOHC, 16-valve Direct Injection Spark Ignition turbocharged inline 4-cylinder.

Horsepower (bhp):??????????? ??????????? 263??????????? @ 5,500??????????? rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):??????????? ??????????? 280??????????? @ 3,000??????????? rpm

Transmission:??????????? ??????????? Six-speed manual.

Drive Train:??????????? Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.

Suspension:??????????? Front ? Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, telescopic double acting shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.

??????????????????????????????????????????????? Rear ? Independent Multi-link, coil springs, telescopic double acting shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.

Brakes:??????????? Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, EBD and BA.

Tires:??????????? Michelin Primacy HP P225/40 R18 88YSummer Radials mounted on 5-?Y?-spoke Gunmetal painted alloy wheels, with Mazda rotary styling.

Wheelbase:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 103.9??????????? inches

Length Overall:??????????? ??????????? 177.6??????????? inches

Width:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 69.7 ??????????? inches – without body side protectors.

Height:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 57.5??????????? inches – unladen.

Curb Weight:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 3,261??????????? lbs.

Fuel Capacity:??????????? ??????????? ? 15.9??????????? gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates:??????????? ? 18??????????? mpg city / 25??????????? mpg highway

Drag Coefficient:??????????? ??????????? 0.32

0 – 60 mph:??????????? Under 6 seconds – Top speed 155.3 electronically limited.





More from Our Auto Expert