2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

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7.8
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8.0
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8.0
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Comfort & Quality
8.0
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7.0
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8.0
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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director

The 2008 Mazda 3 is easily one of the best compact cars for sale in the United States.

TheCarConnection.com's team of car experts pored over road tests from respected Web sources to bring you this conclusive review of the 2008 Mazda 3. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also have driven the Mazda 3 sedan, wagon, and high-performance Mazdaspeed3, and can offer you a definitive opinion on this economical yet sporty line of compact cars. This review also looks at competitors to the 2008 Mazda 3 line so that you can be fully informed if you're considering a new vehicle.

Ask any editor at TheCarConnection.com, and they'll tell you that the 2008 Mazda 3 is one of their favorite compact cars. The reasons are pretty simple: The 2008 Mazda 3 is practical, affordable, and well built, and it has a sporty, fun-to-drive character.

The 2008 Mazda 3 is offered as a front-wheel-drive sedan and a five-door hatchback (some would call it a station wagon). Both wear a cleanly styled nose that has a contemporary look. The high-performance Mazdaspeed3 only comes in the wagon body style, and this special model includes many unique features, including wider front fenders, different front and rear fascias, and a spoiler attached to the hatch. Unlike some other factory hot rods, the Mazdaspeed3 doesn't scream "I'm fast, give me a ticket." The look is conservatively aggressive.

For the least expensive 2008 Mazda 3 sedan, a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard. Uplevel "s" four-doors and the five-door wagon get the 2.3-liter four-cylinder that generates 156 horsepower. The five-door also gets sporty body add-ons, 17-inch wheels, and fog lamps. Five-speed manual transmissions are standard on these models, and optional gearboxes include a four-speed automatic on the base sedan and a five-speed automatic on the uplevel Mazda 3.

On the road, the 2008 Mazda 3 is a fine-driving small car with agile moves. It's entertaining to drive. However, its ride is a bit on the stiff side for some drivers. Road noise is also present and gets tiring after a few hours on the road.

If you step up to the superquick 2008 Mazdaspeed3, the engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter that uses a sophisticated fuel delivery system called direct injection. This technology improves both power and fuel economy. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available to handle this engine's 263 horsepower. Hang on, because the Mazdaspeed3 will take you for a great ride. Quarter-mile performance is musclecar strong, and its top speed is more than 150 mph.

Both body styles of the 2008 Mazda 3 are rated as five-passenger cars, but the truth is that fitting three in the backseat is tight. With only four aboard, the interior is roomy enough, but because this is a compact car, don't expect the space of a full-size SUV--or rear cup holders either. However, you can expect easy-to-use controls and a high level of fit and finish. The Mazda 3 is a quality piece. Seating and visibility for the driver are both good.

The Mazdaspeed3 edition is leather trimmed, has front seats that are more heavily bolstered, and sports bits of aluminum trim throughout to complement the car's impressive performance.

As you'd expect, the wagon carries more than the sedan, offering 43.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, 16.5 with the seats up. The sedan's trunk holds 14.6 cubic feet, but this increases when the rear seats are folded.

For Mazda, 2008 is the year the company significantly improved this car's safety by making side and curtain airbags standard. Government and IIHS crash tests show that this is a good move for consumers. The Mazdaspeed3 also offers electronic stability control as standard equipment, and the feature is optional on other models. Anti-lock brakes are standard on all but the least expensive "s" trim levels.

Available features span a comprehensive range, and they include a Bose audio system, heated leather seats, a navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, and high-intensity xenon headlamps. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring model features a leather interior, a premium sound system, high-gloss-finish 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing front windshield wipers, and automatic on/off headlights.

The new-for-2008 Ford Focus is a competent competitor, a likable mainstream product aimed at mainstream customers. Neither its styling nor its handling is as sporty as the Mazda 3, but the Focus does offer a two-door coupe body style and the Ford/Microsoft SYNC entertainment system.

The Honda Civic may be the Mazda 3's closest competitor in terms of quality and sporty character. You may or may not like the Civic's two-tier instrument panel, so try it first.

The Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass are both mini-wagons that offer the flexibility of slightly taller body designs and plenty of interior room. The Dodge Caliber SRT4 is a serious competitor to the Mazdaspeed3, and the Jeep Compass has the ability to do light off-road driving when equipped with all-wheel drive.

The Hyundai Elantra is another good value in the compact range of cars, and while you might be attracted to its price and warranty, the Elantra is not as refined or as quiet as the Mazda 3.

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October 7, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Manual i Touring

Sporty looking but slow off the mark

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This is a seriously good looking car but sporty looks belie what's going on under the bonnet. Even though it's got 2 litres to go at, it's desperate for a turbo. Having said that it will pull away in an... + More »
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April 24, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic s Grand Touring

Half of an M3 for one third the price

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My 2016 Mazda3 HB is a solid, comfortable, small car that gets better the more enthusiastically is it driven. It's really a 4-dr coupe as there's not a lot of rear seat/leg room. It's agile in town with good... + More »
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January 25, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Automatic i Grand Touring

Very Great and Sweet Ride :)

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I love the Mazda 3 Sedan because when i was buying the car my main objective was Affordability , Stylish , Navigation System and Fuel Economy. So Far I Love it . If you see fuel consumption at 9.5/100 Litres... + More »
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January 11, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic s Grand Touring

What an amazing car. I couldn't be happier

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What a great car; The engine is responsive and the drive quality is fantastic. Sport mode absolutely lives up to its name, and you can engage it while in the manual shifting mode of the car. The active radar... + More »
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December 12, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic i Touring

Affordable,Stylish Automobile

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The Mazda has a smooth,comfortable ride,with adequate leg room space in front and back. The hatchback has a good size cargo area to meet most needs of storage space,etc. Reasonably priced,affordable for a... + More »
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August 23, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic i Touring

A Great Mazda for the Family

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It has a great body with wonderful interior. It has features found in luxury cars. Our unit is made in Japan so the quality is good. It even has a comfortable ride and the 1.5 liter engine is very capable. The... + More »
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August 13, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Automatic s Touring

Excelent car, fullfil all requirements

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Everything excelent! Real superb handling, real enjoy driving! Very nice features. A premium car with normal price.
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March 1, 2016
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Manual i Grand Touring

Fun car with sharp looks and great for the $$$

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This is the 2nd Mazda 3 I've had and it is so much fun to drive. I have the iTouring and wish I got the grand touring model with better performing engine. Base engine lacks passing power. The Mazda Connect... + More »
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September 12, 2015
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Manual s Grand Touring

After 12 years time for a fun car!

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I started looking at this car back in February. As a dedicated manual driver I really liked this model with most of the options AND a 6-speed manual. Since my 5-speed stick 03 Tundra with 240000 miles was... + More »
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August 15, 2015
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Automatic i Grand Touring

All you need from a compact car!

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Nice handling and riding, very good features like premium car, real enjoy to drive! GT has bose, sunroof, leather, great infotainment, nice wheels, so on... Everything you need.., plus gas savings and... + More »
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