I read the horsepower and torque figures in my Toronto newspaper, and made a dash to the Mazda dealership to grab one of the 200 Speed3's destined for Canada in 2006. I thought I would be getting V8 Mustang performance with I4 fuel economy and station wagon practicality. Only one of three is correct.
Firstly, everyone speaks of the power limiting computer gimmickry that makes the car manageable with it's shortened 1st and 2nd gear ratios, but I'm surprised nobody speaks of it's drawbacks. I hate the disconnected feel of my foot slamming down on the gas, and the engine bogging down. What makes it worse is that you can't turn these limitations off! I pray there is an after-market outfit that can disable the ECU power reductions. When 280 lbs/feet of of rubber shredding torque starts to wear thin on my nerves, let ME be the one to pull the plug on the fun!
I was following my buddy's Chevy minivan in dense traffic, when suddenly a lane opens up. He floors it and takes off, so I nail the gas too... but I've got three problems; turbo lag, power reduction in 2nd gear, and further power reduction 'cause the wheels are turned. By the time I complete the lane change and straighten the wheels, my friend is now 15 car lengths ahead! I almost paid a big price during a left turn at busy intersection. You think with 280 lbs/feet of torque you could just turn left through an intersection in a blink of an eye. I floor it and turn the wheel... but there's no boost, just meddling nanny controls that ensured I cleared the intersection as slow as possible. NOT COOL! Now I second guess myself in my 'so-called' road rocket!
As an urban hooligan ride, this car falls flat on it's face, but on the highway this car is AMAZING. Even in 6th gear, the 280 lbs/feet of unrestricted torque will shoot this car from 120km to 200km with ZERO effort. Even to this day I find myself reaching for the shifter, wrongfully thinking that I'm still in 5th!
To my chagrin, this car guzzles a surprising amount of premium fuel. What makes things worse is that it's nearly impossible not to blow past these punks in their loud civics and neons.
Surprisingly, people don't pay any attention to me. This car is really low-key, even the majority of other Mazda 3 owners don't know I've got 100 more horses under my bulging hood. Even with the bright red paint job, this car as been unmolested in public parking spots for days at a time. My paranoia of thieves bending over backwards to steal my very limited edition Speed3 hasn't materialized just yet... KNOCK ON WOOD! Oh... and my insurance quote for the 3 and Speed3 were the same! Hopefully they won't catch on.
You've gotta love the praticality of this car. Humans, as well as big furniture items from Ikea get in and out of this car with ease. The WRX wagon is the next car that can match the Speed3 for practicality and performance, but with a $5000 price difference, and a lot less styling and finesse, this Speed3 can't be beat.