What do you get when you take a zippy compact car and add a powerful turbocharged engine? The answer is the Mazdaspeed 3, a performance bargain that can run with the other big dogs that sit within this hot-hatch segment.
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is a sporty hatchback with a 2.3-liter turbocharged, intercooler 4 cylinder engine that delivers 263hp and 280ft. lb of torque to the front wheels. The sporty hatchback has a 0 to 60mph time of 5.8 seconds and uses a 6-speed manual transmission.
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is a fast and agile hatchback capable of upsetting some of its rivals. In this article, I will review the performance, specs, and common problems of this zippy performance bargain.
2008 Mazdaspeed Review
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is a spectacular performance hatchback, and it has the looks, the performance, the handling, and is very well priced. Mazda set a challenge to beat the VW GTI, and they managed this feat, hands down.
Mazda only imported the front-wheel-drive Mazdaspeed 3 to the United States. At the same time, other countries such as Australia and South Africa received the Mazda 3 MPS, an All-Wheel-Drive version of the Mazdaspeed 3.
2008 Mazdaspeed 3 Performance
The heart of the Mazdaspeed 3 is its 2.3-liter, turbocharged, intercooled inline-four engine. The engine develops 263 horsepower and 280lb-ft torque, making it one of the most powerful in its segment, with a curb weight of 3150 lbs. This powerful engine turns this sport hatchback into a rocket.
The Mazdaspeed has some really great performance figures that would make any rear-wheel-drive sports car weep. The 0 to 60 mph is achieved in 5.8 seconds, and the Mazdaspeed 3 completes the quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds at a speed of 92 mph. Let the Mazdaspeed run free, and you are electronically limited to a top speed of 155mph like I said a rocket!
Most turbocharged front-wheel-drive cars suffer from torque steer, but Mazda threw a little technology at this problem but installing a limited-slip differential and a system that will reduce the engine torque when the steering wheel is turned over 15° in 1st and 2nd gear. With all these aids, torque steer is almost eliminated, but launch the car with high RPMs, and you will know about it!
The only transmission available for the Mazdaspeed 3 is a six-speed manual that is well suited to the car. The gearing is short, allowing for fast acceleration, and moving up in the box is smooth. There is always power left in reserve, so there is no need to drop down a gear unless you light up the tires.
The Mazdaspeed 3 is a sports hatchback, so the ride is hard, but this is forgiven when you start throwing the car about on some twisty roads. The car is very capable in the corners and gives a sense of security with its agility.
The sporty hatchback has powerful brakes that are an inch larger than the standard model, making for some impressive braking. The ABS brake system can bring the car to a halt from 60mph to 0 in 156 feet.
2008 Mazdaspeed 3 Interior And Exterior
The interior of the Mazdaspeed 3 is nothing to get overexcited about, but everything I need is there! The cloth-covered seats are very comfortable but are limited in their adjustments.
The metal pedals are spaced perfectly, and there is sufficient cargo space to take the family for a weekend away.
The exterior on the Mazdaspeed 3 is similar to the base model, with only a few subtle additions. The hatchback gets 18” alloy wheels, a restyled front and rear bumper, and a rear roof spoiler.
The Mazdaspeed 3 won’t raise any suspicions that it is a fast little car.
2008 Mazdaspeed 3 Spec Sheet
Below is the spec sheet for the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3
|2008 Mazdaspeed 3
|Gas Turbo Intercooled Inline 4
|2.3L / 138 cubic inches
|Maximum Horsepower @ RPM
|263 @ 5500
|Maximum Torque @ RPM
|280 @ 3000
|6 speed Manual
|Fuel Economy city (mpg)
|Fuel Economy Highway (mpg)
|Fuel Capacity (g)
|Cargo Space (cubic feet)
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 Safety Features
The following are equipped as standard on the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3.
- Anti-lock brake system w/electronic brake force distribution (EBD) & brake assist
- Driver/front passenger advanced airbags (SRS)
- Crash zone, driver’s seat position, passenger weight sensors
- Front seat-mounted side-impact airbags
- Front/rear side curtain airbags
- Front seat belt pre-tensioners w/force limiters, height adjustable
- 3-point seat belts for all positions
- Child safety rear door locks
- Rear child safety seat
- Dynamic stability control (DSC) w/traction control system (TCS)
- Collapsible steering column
- Crushable brake pedal
- Front/rear side-impact door beams
- 5-mph bumpers
- Single-type horn
2008 Mazdaspeed 3 Common Problems
The Mazdaspeed 3 is a great car that will be driven hard, but even great cars will run into a few problems. Here are five of the most common problems found on the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3.
The Variable Valve Timing Actuator
Many Mazdaspeed 3s have suffered from a faulty variable valve timing (VVT) actuator. Mazda addressed this problem in 2011 with a redesign, but the problem still persists today for older models. When the actuator is faulty, it causes slack on the timing chain, and this can be heard when you cold start the engine and hear a rattling noise in the valve cover.
If this is not detected early or if the actuator fails completely, this could cause the motor to jump timing and ultimately cause catastrophic engine head damage.
The Mazdaspeed 3 Turbo Seals
The stock K04 turbo on the Mazdaspeed 3 is great for low-end torque, but after 40 000 miles, the seals can go bad. Bad seals will leak oil straight into the exhaust and not lubricate the bearings in the turbo. A telling sign is lots of smoke coming from the exhaust and a drop in the oil levels. There are temporary fixes, but the turbo will need to be replaced.
The Mazdaspeed 3 High-Pressure Fuel Pump
The high-pressure fuel pump (hpfp) is just strong enough to supply enough fuel when driving at full throttle. The hpfp wears out cannot supply fuel for the correct air/fuel mixture resulting in low performance from the engine. It is recommended to replace the high-pressure fuel pump after 40 000 miles.
The Mazdaspeed 3 Fuel Injectors
A common problem with the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is clogged fuel injectors. When the fuel injectors are clogged, they cannot supply sufficient fuel to the cylinder, causing engine knock. Cleaning the injectors at regular intervals should alleviate this from occurring.
The Mazdaspeed 3 Engine Mounts
The rear engine mount in the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 can develop a lot of play on it, causing the engine to rock forwards and backwards. A worn rear mount will affect gear shift and cause wheel hop. The solution is to regularly check the mount and replace it when needed.
Our Verdict on the 2008 Mazdaspeed 3
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is a zippy affordable hatchback that will bring out the little kid racer in you. The car has excellent performance with its turbo engine and sport suspension. The car’s interior is comfortable and has everything I need to enjoy driving the Mazdaspeed 3.
The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 has a few common problems that might need to be addressed, but luckily nothing too serious to sway me from owning one of these rockets!