2009 Mazda MAZDA3 Performance

8.0
Performance

The 2009 Mazda 3 rewards drivers looking for sport on a small budget.

Motor Trend is taken by the 2009 Mazda 3's handling. "Around the skidpad," they contend, "the 3 s Grand Touring runs circles around its competitors...[and] perhaps most impressive is the Mazda's 60-to-0 mph, which at 112 feet, matches that of the all-new Pontiac G8 GT." 2009 Mazda 3s are tuned more for sport handling, which influences its ride. Edmunds says, "the Mazda 3 tends to drive like a much more expensive sport sedan...thanks to its performance-oriented chassis tuning." ConsumerGuide observes, "All 3s have firm suspensions that show good composure except over large high-speed dips and swells...and is among the best handling compacts." The Mazdaspeed, they note, is "nimble and balanced, helped by precise, linear steering with good road feel." They relate, "Braking on all is stable, but be sure to get ABS." Motor Trend sums it up: "Nothing else in this field feels so lively and well-planted—you can feel the racing DNA in the 3's bones."

The 2009 Mazda 3 has exactly what many practical but performance-minded drivers want: adequate pep, a sport-oriented suspension, and good brakes.

The Mazdaspeed3 comes with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four with 263 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque, and it sprints to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, according to J.D. Power. It comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. ConsumerGuide notes the "Mazdaspeed is very quick, though acceleration is blunted a bit by turbo lag." In their test of a 2009 Mazda 3 Grand Touring sedan with the 2.3 and automatic, Edmunds reports "the Mazda did the 0-60-mph sprint in 8.6 seconds." According to Edmunds, the standard 2009 Mazda 3 i sedans use a "2-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 148 hp and 135 [pound-feet] of torque, while s models use a 2.3-liter four-cylinder rated at 156 hp and 150 [pound-feet] of torque.”

"Both engines come standard with a five-speed manual...A four-speed automatic with [manual mode] is optional on i models," states Edmunds, "while s models upgrade to a five-speed automatic with [manual mode]." ConsumerGuide thinks the automatic transmissions are "smooth and responsive," whereas the manuals have "precise shift and clutch action." But Motor Trend, after their test of a Mazda 2009 3, cautions, "the [auto] tranny did occasionally suffer from 'erratic gear tenacity,' in which it refused to engage a higher or lower cog upon input."

ConsumerGuide tests a few models of the Mazda 3 and finds that 2009 manual sedans "averaged 27.1 mpg in mainly highway driving." An s hatchback "averaged 20.8 mpg in mostly city driving, including gas-easting performance runs." A Mazdaspeed3 "averaged 20.6 mpg." The turbocharged engine requires premium-grade gas, and the others use regular. According to the EPA, the 3’s fuel economy rates up to 24 mpg city, 32 highway, or as low as 18/26 mpg for the Mazdaspeed3.

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