MPG-o-Matic 2011 Mazdaspeed3 Review Summary: Dollar-for-dollar, the 2011 Mazdaspeed3 delivers surprising levels of both performance and fuel efficiency. The official numbers fail to tell the true tale. To the unknowing, the Speed3 looks like a Mazda3, with cosmetic touches; it’s what’s under the skin that makes all the difference.
The front-wheel-drive five-door 2011 Mazdapeed3 defines the term, “hot hatch” with a 2.3-liter Direct-Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) turbocharged engine producing 263 horsepower (HP) and 280 foot pounds of torque. The inter-cooled inline turbo four is exclusively mated to a six-speed manual close-ratio transmission. Form follows function with the hood scoop on the Mazdaspeed3 providing a blast of fresh air for the top-mounted inter-cooler.
The official fuel economy estimates for the Mazdaspeed3 are 18 city / 25 highway.
We clocked over 650 miles in our Velocity Red Mica review unit and demolished the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 34.5 MPG on the Interstate highway and 23.9 MPG combined in mild spring weather, with temperatures ranging from the fifties through the low-seventies. If you drive the Speed3 conservatively, it will deliver excellent highway mileage. With all that torque on tap, we simply turned on the cruise control with the transmission in sixth gear.
Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the mid-sixties through low-seventies. The test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, clad with Dunlop SP Sport P225/40R18 summer performance tires, and was delivered with approximately 8850 miles on the odometer. (If you live in a cold climate, you’ll want to get a set of all-season or winter tires.)
Long-Distance Interstate Mileage Testing:
- Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up
- Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up
The inter-cooled turbo four really puts out when it spools up, but takes some finesse to launch properly.
Highway driving range is very good when driven conservatively, with a 15.9 gallon tank. The Speed3 is designed to run on premium unleaded. Curb weight is a tad heavier than one might expect, at 3,272 pounds.
The Speed3’s four-wheel power-assisted ABS disc brake system uses 12.6-inch vented front and 11-inch solid rear discs, along with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.
If you’ve never driven a powerful front-wheel-drive car, get ready for an acclimation period. Once you get used to the way that this critter likes to dance, you’ll have a blast.
The Speed3’s cabin sets it apart from the standard Mazda3 with seating surfaces that use a combination of halftone patterned cloth and leather bolsters, race-inspired alloy pedals, and distinctive sill plates. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob complete the look. Steering wheel controls are comprehensive.
Our only serious gripe with the Mazdaspeed3 is that it lacks heated seats and adjustable lumbar support. All seat adjustments are manual, with a six-way driver’s seat and a four-way front passenger seat.
Our test unit was equipped with the Mazdaspeed Tech Option Package, which includes:
- 10-speaker 265-watt Bose audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio (free six-month subscription)
- 6-disc MP3-compatible dash-mounted CD-changer
- Center-mounted Color Multi-Information Display
- Keyless System with Pushbutton Start
- Rain-Sensing Wipers
- Bi-Xenon Auto-Leveling, Pivoting Adaptive Front Lights
- LED Taillights
A nifty boost gauge sites between the speedometer and tachometer, just above the trip meter, fuel gauge and odometer.
The center-mounted Multi-Information display provides range to empty, average fuel consumption, and real-time fuel economy displays. We made great use of the real-time MPG display in our travels with the Speed3, but found it tough to read the tiny navigation screen at times. (Once you reach a certain age, you’ll find yourself at the optometrist, being fitted for bifocals, too …)
There are two twelve-volt outlets, with one at the base of the dash and one in the center console, alongside the auxiliary input jack. Bluetooth is standard.
While it may look small on the outside, the five-door hatchback design ensure plenty of versatility. The second row seats provide 38.0 inches of headroom and 36.2 inches of leg room.
The Speed3’s cargo area allows for 17.0 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up and a generous 42.8 cubic feet of storage when the 60/40 rear seats are folded down.
All-in-all, the 2011 Mazdaspeed3 delivers the goods, with performance, handling, versatility, and surprising fuel-efficiency. While hot hatches might not be everyone’s ticket, the Speed3 proves that small can be remarkably fun.
Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 0%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Japan – 95%
Final Assembly Point: Houfu, Japan
Country of Origin:
Engine – Japan
Transmission – Japan
– by Daniel Gray