A hoot to drive!
I LOVE this car! Nothing else for 25k$ offers such a brilliant combination of power, handling, practicality, and economy. The hatchback is great for hauling stuff around. I'm a college student and I can fit all of my belongings in the car with no problem to move myself to and from school. I was pleasantly surprised when on my first trip, the car got a respectable 30MPG despite the rated 26MPG. The interior is very nice and well equipped. My only complaints are that the shifter is rubbery. The first few months that I had the car, it took some getting used to. Additionally, the steering wants to stay on center too much. This makes small changes in steering angle difficult to make. These are small annoyances for the fantastic driving experience of this car. Good job Mazda!
Bye Bye GTI, make room for the Zoom Zoom!
Well, hard to imagine, but I chose the Speed3 over the Mk5 GTI. Yes, it was a close call... Call it silly, but one of the tipping points for me is that the Speed3 is a good looking, but subtly styled car. The GTI blasts you with its Speed Boy front end styling. No thanks. The Speed3 is, as you must know, fast. Almost too fast, if there is such a thing. The shifter is a tad notchy, so you will need practice, but once you master it, you'll appreciate the well bolstered seats because you will be pushed back into them on take off. Zoom Zoom! It really is amazing how Mazda minimized the torque steer. Its so minimal in first and second, I wish they did not tame it so much (aftermarket calling...). Lets not be OCD about this. This is a fun, little car that you can still drive daily. You can get almost four Speed3s for the cost of a nicely equipped Audi RS4. So, high end leather, radio, and sound dampening, you don't get. Then again, you may still be able to afford to drive the Speed3 and keep your house. The interior of the Speed is nice, not great but good for the range. A bit too much plastic on the dash, but I can live with it. Its that much fun. Sure, watch out for tire spin, its true. But really, unless you are sticking the throttle through the floor at every stop light, you will be fine. What Mazda needs to do is offer more factory options (GTI anyone?). You are right if you think 18" rims on a car this size is overkill. I seriously doubt you will lose any performance on 17" with higher profile tires. You might want to look into this if you live in snow belts or with many potholes. Yes the exhaust drones, but its not overwhelming . My advice is to spring for the Grand Touring version. The leather seats, climate control, and better audio are worth it and will help resale value, if you care. The WRX just got tamed this year, the EVO X is frankly overpriced and thirsty, the GTI? Nice, but is dressed like a teenager. Plan ahead though... the Speed3 is a limited build car so you may have to wait a few months to get your hands on this pocket rocket of a hot hatch. Did I mention it was fun?