2008 Mazda Mazda3

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2008 Mazda Mazda3. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25-28 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    148-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Stylish appearance (especially hatchback)
  • Steering and handling
  • Driving ease
  • Front occupant space

The Bad

  • Instrument readability
  • Backseat space
  • Engine noise on hard acceleration
  • Seat comfort

Notable Features of the 2008 Mazda Mazda3

  • 2.0- or 2.3-liter four-cylinder
  • Sedan or hatchback
  • Sporty Mazda styling and personality
  • Standard auxiliary audio input

2008 Mazda Mazda3 Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
Mazda's larger, more powerful replacements for the departed Protege sedan and Protege5 hatchback went on sale in the 2004 model year. Built on the same platform as the Volvo S40, the compact, front-wheel-drive Mazda3 displayed entirely different styling. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine goes into the Mazda3 i sedan, while the Mazda3 s sedan and hatchback hold a more powerful 2.3-liter four-cylinder. Competitors include the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta.

The Mazda3 received minor modifications for the 2007 model year. The front bumper was redesigned and fitted with square fog lamps, and the 16- and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels also got a new look. The audio system has a standard auxiliary audio input for MP3 players. Both the sedan and hatchback have rear armrests with cupholders, and the i sedan has zebra-striped wood-finish dash trim. For 2008, s Sport models have standard side-impact and side curtain airbags.


Exterior
Comparatively upright in profile, the Mazda3 is built with a wide track and a relatively long (103.9-inch) wheelbase for its size. A Sport Package that includes sport bumpers, side skirts, 17-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps is available on s sedans and standard on s hatchbacks.

Steel wheels hold 15-inch tires on the Mazda3 i sedan; the Mazda3 s sedan gets 16-inch alloy wheels, while the Mazda3 s hatchback rolls on 17-inch rubber. The wagonlike hatchback has small triangular rear quarter windows. Sedans get a short but high rear deck.


Interi...
Vehicle Overview
Mazda's larger, more powerful replacements for the departed Protege sedan and Protege5 hatchback went on sale in the 2004 model year. Built on the same platform as the Volvo S40, the compact, front-wheel-drive Mazda3 displayed entirely different styling. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine goes into the Mazda3 i sedan, while the Mazda3 s sedan and hatchback hold a more powerful 2.3-liter four-cylinder. Competitors include the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta.

The Mazda3 received minor modifications for the 2007 model year. The front bumper was redesigned and fitted with square fog lamps, and the 16- and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels also got a new look. The audio system has a standard auxiliary audio input for MP3 players. Both the sedan and hatchback have rear armrests with cupholders, and the i sedan has zebra-striped wood-finish dash trim. For 2008, s Sport models have standard side-impact and side curtain airbags.


Exterior
Comparatively upright in profile, the Mazda3 is built with a wide track and a relatively long (103.9-inch) wheelbase for its size. A Sport Package that includes sport bumpers, side skirts, 17-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps is available on s sedans and standard on s hatchbacks.

Steel wheels hold 15-inch tires on the Mazda3 i sedan; the Mazda3 s sedan gets 16-inch alloy wheels, while the Mazda3 s hatchback rolls on 17-inch rubber. The wagonlike hatchback has small triangular rear quarter windows. Sedans get a short but high rear deck.


Interior
Up to five people can fit inside the Mazda3. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and the instruments sit in a trio of round, recessed nacelles. A ratchet-type mechanism permits seat adjustment, allowing the cushion and seatback to move up and down together. Placing the rear-suspension coil springs beneath the floor increases the hatchback's rear storage space.

The s Grand Touring model includes heated leather seats, automatic headlights, automatic rain-sensing wipers and a trip computer. A moonroof, a custom-tuned Bose audio system and Sirius Satellite Radio are optional.


Under the Hood
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the Mazda3 i has variable valve timing and develops 148 horsepower (144 hp in PZEV form). The Mazda3 s uses a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 156 hp. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a four-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift provision is optional for the Mazda3 i. The 2.3-liter engine can mate with a five-speed automatic.

Safety
Side-impact and side curtain airbags are optional. All-disc antilock brakes with brake assist are standard on s models and optional on i models. Traction control and an electronic stability system are available on s models.

Driving Impressions
The easy-to-drive Mazda3 handles more adeptly than most rivals. The automatic transmission delivers quick, smooth responses. Performance with the larger engine falls short of some sporty compacts, but it will satisfy most drivers. That engine is generally quiet, but it emits a fair amount of blare when pushed. With an easy-shifting manual gearbox and a well-behaved clutch, even the Mazda3 i with the smaller engine feels more spirited than an upper-level model with the automatic.

Although the front seats are nicely shaped, their seatbacks are on the hard side. Rear legroom is limited, but foot space is good. Headroom is average in the rear but meager in the center position. Visibility is good. The Mazda3 instruments are difficult to see on dark days but are lit nicely at night.



Latest 2008 Mazda3 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Small family car

by Vic from Staten Island, NY on October 8, 2018

Front seats has good space. Large trunk. Tiny back seats, fits for kids only. Engine and transmission are reliable. 2L engine sometimes not enough to accelerate fast. Body rusting fast. Read full review

(5.0)

Love love love my Mazda3

by josie?s driver from Lexington KY on September 12, 2018

I?m at 180,000 miles on my manual 2.0l with no major issues- possibly some suspension work due soon. Considering trying to put three car seats across the back instead of purchasing a van. It?s just so ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Mazda Mazda3 currently has 3 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2008 Mazda Mazda3 i Sport

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
marginal
Overall Rear
marginal
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
poor
Driver Head and Neck
poor
Driver Pelvis/Leg
marginal
Driver Torso
poor
Overall Side
poor
Rear Passenger Head Protection
marginal
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
acceptable
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Mazda3 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker