After reading numerous road tests, and test driving a Mazdaspeed 3, I decided that this was the perfect vehicle for me. It took several weeks, to locate the right car. I purchased a GP 5-door w/o a navigation system. My Garmin Street Pilot 2830 works fine, and much easier to program.
The ‘cold air’ and ‘exhaust’ kits were ordered, but not installed when I took delivery. Both were installed later, and are well worth the money.
The car was driven home from the dealer, the tires were filled with Nitrogen, then off to Gingerman Raceway (South Haven, Michigan). the next day for it’s first ‘track day’. It had 330 miles on the odo when I arrived at Gingerman.
Needless to say, I did not ‘push’ the new car hard the first day. It was immediately apparent that this little beast was more than I expected.
Switch off the TSC, and it is a ‘hoot’. Press it hard into a turn and it will under steer , but a small lift-throttle and it rotates beautifully. Shift @ 6000 rpm, and it pulls like a train. The brakes worked great on short tracks. More on that later. I had the oil changed to Castrol synthetic by the dealer at 1000 miles. The cold air, exhaust, were also installed.
Since I am too old, tired, and lazy to carry ‘track tires’ , I expect to run my street tires on the track. The Bridgestone RE-050 tires do fine. They have adequate grip, and you can do 4 wheel drifts without fear of being launched into the Armco. Plus they have great road feel, and decent tread life.
Having done four track days (2 @ Gingerman, and 2 @ Autobahn Country Club), I was looking forward to the ACNA event at Road America in Sep. RA is a 4.2 mile track and has 3 long straight aways. The MS 3 had no problem hitting a buck 30 on each straight, and eating most all of the stock A-4’s through the twisties. However, after 15 minutes on the track the front brakes started to get spongy. I had to pace myself for at least one lap to let them cool. I have a Brembo Brake Kit on order from Street Unit Performance Inc (www.streetunit.com).
The Mazda Speed 3 is a bargain at $25K. Wicked fast, and very ‘stealth’ compared to the EVO or STI. Okay, it is not AWD, and the brakes are not the best, but it comes fully equipped, and with a Mazda warranty. There is over 5 feet of length In the back with the seats folded, and after market upgrades are available at a reasonable cost. If you can find one, buy it……….you won’t be disappointed.