Steps for Satisfying the "Drive...He Said" Need for Speed in the 2013 Mazdaspeed3 front-drive five-door "hot hatchback":
1) Depress the light-to-disengage Speed3 clutch pedal.
2) Find forward gear Numero Uno of the close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, a unit which is notchy when cold and downright recalcitrant when hot.
3) Apply throttle bring revolutions of the direct injected all-alloy 2.3-Liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder to about 3500 r.p.m. That should create enough exhaust pressure to spin the Warner-Hitachi K-04 turbo to at least 10 of the total 15 p.s.i. of boost pressure.
4) That NACA intake duct on the hood is functional, feeding the air-to-air intercooler holding court over the engine. Makes a sick "whooshing" sound effect
5) Abruptly release that clutch pedal. As much of 280-pound-feet of torque and an eventual 263-horsepower cascade to the transaxle. Heads jerk forward. Heartbeats skip. Sport cloth seats, trimmed in leather, keep driver and co-pilot locked in place, with Infiniti G level comfort. They say there are 36"-inches of rear 60/40 split folding seat leg-room so that two taller folks can tag along for on this thrill-ride. And that 16-cubic feet of belongings will stow under the hatch. "Say" being the operative word because we didn't want to cramp our thrills with the extra weight.
6) With 62% of the 3281-pounds riding over the steered and driven front wheels, the torque sensing mechanical differential does its best to limit twist between equal length half-shafts with the most traction. In the dry Bridgestone Blizzak LM60 winter shoes, fitted only seasonally, exacerbate a torque-steer bout to the death. All the more amazing, then, that the front strut / rear multi-link chassis is tuned for some understeer. There's the boon of a lightning quick 16.2:1 steering ratio, though steering feel is slightly inert. Note to Mazda: since there will be a whole lot of fiddling with the steering wheel, a beefier unit than stock should be spec'd. The ride quality is commensurate with pretty much all else in this class. Which means choppy on the rough stuff. Tolerable on the smooth. Most hot-hatches with such sporting intentions get ventilated rear brake rotors. Not so in the Mazdaspeed3. Large sliding front calipers cover a mean swept area over 12.6 front platters. Adequate as stops from high speed are in the Speed3, they will never feel like hitting a brick wall.
7) Adding $2700 for a Tech package including Tom Tom hard-drive navigation to a base price of $24,200 still prices the Speed3 neatly in the company of other respected hot-hatches. The Volkswagen Golf GTI, while less power and more austere cabin fitments, matches performance with lighter weight. The Ford Focus ST does a better job managing front-wheel fighting with an e-differential, yet lacks the more aggressive looks and sounds of the Speed3 doesn't miss details like dual sleeves for stowing the rear parcel tray cords. Performance: 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and a 1/4 mile elapsing in 14.4 seconds at 97 mph. Those Bridgestone Blizzaks, effective at pushing aside snow and biting into ice, cost a good 0.2 second on both measures. Standard grippers are 225/40 Dunlop Sport SP 2050 summers on bad-to-the-bone 18" gun-metal multi-spoke alloys. Combined fuel economy, including more than a few hot laps, came in at 21 mpg.
8) Just as front tires of the 2013 Mazdaspeed3 duke it out for traction on public roads, so will consciences battle between restraint and abandon.
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Tags: 2013 Mazdaspeed3, 2013 Mazdaspeed3 Video Test Drive Review, Ford Focus ST competitor, Hot Hatchbacks, Manual Transmission, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart competitor, review, Subaru WRX competitor, Test Drive, torque steer, Turbocharger, video, Video Test Drive, Volkswagen Golf GTI competitor