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Original MSRP: $13,895 - $20,845
MPG: 28 City / 35 Hwy
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2007 Mazda Mazda3 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2007 Mazda Mazda3 was new.

The 2007 Mazda 3 is generally assessed by test drivers as being an animated drive, delivering potent passing power and nimble handing. Motor Trend sums it up well, saying that the Mazda 3 has the "elusive feel of a dedicated driver's machine," with imposing credentials.

Our own U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says that "the 3 isn't just fun to drive, it's also easy on the driver", and Edmunds adds that the Mazda 3 is "the most fun-to-drive sedan in the 'Under $15,000' class." Motor Trend chimes in that the 3 is the "epitome of a well-tuned sport hatchback", while the Washington Post reports that in ride, acceleration and handling, the 2007 Mazda 3 earned "triple aces," and has "surprising agility around curves," and "impressive maneuverability in tight traffic."

Acceleration and Power

The 2007 Mazda 3 comes in a wide array of body styles and powertrains, with the S tag identifying vehicles with the upgraded 2.3-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine option. Most reviewers test drove the S model, which while a step up from the base 2.0-liter engine, is of generally comparable performance. Auto writers hail its performance as exceptional, providing abundant power for acceleration and passing. Our own U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman calls the acceleration "quite brisk", while Motor Trend adds, "The Mazda is rich in low-speed torque," and "acceleration is linear." Edmunds chimes in that the engine is "quite peppy," with its ample power delivery, and then adds, "The bottom line is that it's a smooth motor that offers composure (even at higher rpm) befitting a more expensive vehicle."

The 2007 Mazda 3 four-cylinder automatic has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Fuel economy ratings depend, of course, on trim level, transmission and grade of gasoline.

The Mazda 3 transmission is offered as either a four- or five-speed automatic, or a five- or six-speed manual transmission depending on the model and option the buyer selects. Motor Trend compliments the base five-speed manual shifter as "slick as an RX-8's ... precise and quick to find the next gear," with the pedals "properly placed for heel-and-toeing" (a common performance driving technique). On the automatic transmission option, Edmunds best sums it up, observing that it "handled the available power well and provided smooth, almost seamless upshifts", but then adds, "Downshifts were equally imperceptible, and the manual mode offered some fun but lacked the precision of similar automanual modes in more expensive cars".

Parked in the stable of the Mazda 3 lineup is a model that is seen by most to be a car with an attitude -- the 2007 MazdaSpeed3. Available in Sport and Grand Touring trim levels, this series comes equipped with a 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition turbocharged engine, delivering 263 horsepower, which auto reviewers agree is pure sport. Motor Trend evaluates the stat list for the MazdaSpeed3 and comments that it read "more like the resume of a $45,000 BMW or Audi sport sedan than a $23,000 Mazda hatchback." They then add that on the track it delivers the "elusive feel of a dedicated driver's machine." The 2007 MazdaSpeed3 is only available with a six-speed manual transmission, which is "heavily weighted toward the center gate to help you find the quick way through the gears," says Automobile Magazine, with a less "springy or sensitive" clutch, "resulting in a smoother engagement and uncomplicated use."

Handling and Braking

The base model 2007 Mazda 3 four-door, with a MacPherson front suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering with variable assist, is praised by auto writers for its capable and sporty ride and handling. "The ride is firm and tight without being busy. Handling is excellent and our test driver through the slalom commented that the car has 'communicative steering and chassis,' which makes it easy to control," states Edmunds. "Steering is linear," affirm Motor Trend auto writers, "with just the right effort and sufficient caster to keep the car on your chosen line. It's responsive, but not darty." The Los Angeles Times chimes in, "This is a solid-feeling car -- taut, quiet and well tempered -- a feeling that begins with its thickly padded steering wheel and ends at the car's hydroelastic body mountings and thick suspension bushings." In a more than passing nod to the car's sporting characteristics, Motor Trend states that "the suspension imparts just enough road feel to let the driver know what the tires know", and Car and Driver agrees, stating that "the suspension offers git-er-done roll stiffness, and ride motions are Germanic in their discipline." Motor Trend then sums it up nicely, noting that the Mazda 3 just "plain spanked all comers in the slalom, figure eight, and skidpad tests, testament to its balanced chassis and superb handling."

The 2007 MazdaSpeed3, the model's top performance contender, takes the already impressive handling characteristics of the base Mazda 3 to yet another level. Motor Trend observes that it exhibits "a level of linearity that makes slicing sweepers and switchbacks an exquisite exercise," adding that while it's "certainly taut, comes across as fitting and surprisingly compliant for everyday use." Consumer Guide identifies the MazdaSpeed3 as "among the best handling compacts."

When it comes to braking, most test drivers note that the brakes are competent and in keeping with the overall sporty nature of the Mazda 3. Motor Trend reflects the consensus of most, stating the Mazda 3's "four-wheel disc brakes are strong and superbly tuned for aggressive motoring."

Performance Options

Mazda 3 Four-Door i Sport

The four-door i Sport has a 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with VVT and 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm. The i Sport is front-wheel drive and comes mated with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission. The i Sport is fitted with independent MacPherson front suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension.

Mazda 3 Four-Door i Touring

The four-door i Touring has a 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with VVT and 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm. The i Touring is front-wheel drive and comes mated with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission. The i Touring is fitted with independent MacPherson front suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension.

Mazda 3 Four-Door s Sport

The Mazda 3 four-door s Sport comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts, with 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm, front-wheel drive and five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission. The s Sport is fitted with independent MacPherson front suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension.

Mazda 3 Four-Door s Touring

The Mazda 3 four-door s Touring comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts, with 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm, front-wheel drive and five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission. The s Touring is fitted with independent MacPherson front suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension.

Mazda 3 Four-Door s Grand Touring

The Mazda 3 four-door s Grand Touring comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts, with 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm, front-wheel drive and five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission.

Mazda 3 Five-Door s Sport

The Mazda 3 five-door s Sport comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts and delivers 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm. This hatchback is front-wheel drive and mated to a five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission, with independent MacPherson strut suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension and an Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

Mazda 3 Five-Door s Touring

The Mazda 3 five-Door s Touring comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts and delivers 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm. This hatchback is front-wheel drive and mated to a five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission, with independent MacPherson strut suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension and an Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

Mazda 3 Five-Door s Grand Touring

The Mazda 3 five-door s Grand Touring comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine with VVT and balance shafts and delivers 156 horsepower at 6500 rpm. This hatchback is front-wheel drive and mated to a five-speed manual transmission or five-speed electronically-controlled Sport automatic transmission, with independent MacPherson strut suspension and independent multi-link E-type rear suspension and an Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

Mazda 3 MazdaSpeed Sport

The Mazda 3 MazdaSpeed Sport is equipped with a 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition turbocharged engine, with a peak of 263 horsepower at 5500 rpm. The MazdaSpeed Sport has a Mazda Advanced Torque Management System, six-speed manual transmission, Limited Slip Differential, sport-tuned exhaust, MazdaSpeed power-assisted ventilated front disc/solid rear disc, MacPherson front strut suspension, MazdaSpeed rear sport independent E-type multi-link suspension and MazdaSpeed front and rear stabilizer bar.

Mazda 3 MazdaSpeed Grand Touring

The Mazda 3 MazdaSpeed Grand Touring is equipped with a 2.3-liter Direct Injection Spark Ignition turbocharged engine, with a peak of 263 horsepower at 5500 rpm. The MazdaSpeed Sport has a Mazda Advanced Torque Management System, six-speed manual transmission, Limited Slip Differential, sport-tuned exhaust, MazdaSpeed power-assisted ventilated front disc/solid rear disc, MacPherson front strut suspension, MazdaSpeed rear sport independent E-type multi-link suspension and MazdaSpeed front and rear stabilizer bar.

Review Last Updated: 5/2/08

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