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2008 Mazda MAZDA3

Overview
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2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

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It's now four years into the compact MAZDA3's model run, and demand remains high. The 2008 Mazda MAZDA3 continues to attract buyers, due to its attractive styling, impressive array of standard and optional features, good fuel economy and sporty handling. Few economy cars have enough style to sit beside an Audi A3 and look right at home, yet the MAZDA3 can do just that, and its starting price at slightly over $14,000 places it within the reach of most compact car buyers. The MAZDA3 is available in two body styles, with the four-door sedan offering two four-cylinder engine choices: A 2.0-liter or 2.3-liter. The five-door hatchback is available only with the larger engine. Both models are notably popular with drivers young and old, poking a big hole in the commonly-held belief that Americans won't buy hatchbacks.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're shopping for an economical small car that can be nicely equipped for around $18,000, check out the 2008 Mazda MAZDA3. Sharp styling and road-hugging handling are standard, as is a long list of uncommon options such as DVD navigation and Bose audio.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're searching for maximum passenger space, the MAZDA3's rear-seat legroom won't impress. Though no wimp, the 2.3-liter engine can't compete with the high-powered turbocharged engines from Subaru, Volkswagen and MINI.

What's New for 2008

Mazda makes front side-impact and side-curtain airbags standard on s Sport models.

Driving the MAZDA3

Driving Impressions We found the MAZDA3's handling to be simply superb, with incredibly tight steering that responds instantaneously to input. As we joyfully wound our way over a serpentine road, we were...

instantly reminded of other great compacts that evoked the same emotional response. Even though the MAZDA3 is a front-wheel-drive car, it exhibits very little torque steer. The secret ingredient for a faster, more thrilling MAZDA3 is the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine of the s trim level. Though it has only 12 more horsepower than the 2.0-liter, the 2.3's low-end torque helps the MAZDA3 accelerate effortlessly. The optional automatic transmission features a quick shift from first to second gear for a faster response, making even steep hills no threat to rapid acceleration.

DVD-Based Navigation Unit
The MAZDA3's optional DVD-based navigation unit is an unheard-of feature in a car in this price range.

Hatchback
Who says Americans don't like hatchbacks? The new hot hatches are gaining converts for their looks and versatility.

2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Details
Interior

You can shop this segment until the cows come home and not find as handsome an interior as in the 2008 Mazda MAZDA3. A racy three-pod instrument cluster, red dash lighting and long list of standard and optional features make the MAZDA3 feel like a high-priced sports sedan. Front-seat occupants will find head- and legroom generous, although the passenger's seat does not offer adjustment for either lumbar support or height. The five-door model allows you to lug around bulky items that would not easily fit in the sedan's trunk. Two features missing from an otherwise well-planned interior are a rear hatch release switch and a retained power feature, the latter necessary to operate the power windows after the key is removed from the ignition.

Exterior

The MAZDA3's scorching exterior could easily have been penned by BMW or Alfa Romeo. The strong lines denote its performance abilities and look particularly attractive on the sporty five-door hatchback. A new front end features a revised grille and headlamp treatment with a large rectangular air intake and, on s trims, integrated rectangular fog lights. Sadly, heated exterior mirrors are still not available. The s models feature a multi-spoke wheel design that mimics the wheels of the CX-7 crossover SUV.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The entry-level MAZDA3 i features a 2.0-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, dual remote-control mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, cloth bucket seats, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, tachometer, intermittent wipers and 15-inch wheels. The s four-door sedan and five-door hatchback include a 2.3-liter engine, air conditioning, illuminated remote keyless entry, fog lights, dual power mirrors, power locks, power windows, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. All versions with the 2.3-liter engine have Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control as standard equipment.

Optional Equipment

Options include a power moonroof, Bose audio, six-disc MP3/CD changer, 17-inch alloy wheels (Grand Touring), heated leather seats, five-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), remote engine start (automatic models only), front-side and front/rear side-curtain airbags (standard on s Sport), auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and a DVD-based navigation system.

Under the Hood

The base 2.0-liter engine works just fine in this car when competing with similarly-sized engines from Ford, Toyota, Honda and Kia. Performance driving is more enjoyable with the larger 2.3-liter engine, which offers more low-end torque but also consumes more fuel. A new five-speed automatic with manual shift control is available only with the 2.3-liter engine.

2.0-liter in-line 4
148 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
135 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 (manual), 23/31 (automatic)

2.3-liter in-line 4
156 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)

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2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 1205 Ratings for the 2004 - 2009 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.3/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.3/10

Love

By on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "incredibly reliable, beautiful interior, features"

Cons: "no 4 wheel drive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this car as a 19 year old with absolutely no knowledge of cars and it's not reached 6 years of age. This car has been an absolute dream. My only critical thoughts are that I should have got a model with power locks/windows and I wish it had 4 wheel drive because I drive in snow a lot. I have never had ANY mechanical issues besides replacing my battery once. Incredible vehicle."

I'm going to miss this car so very much

By on Sunday, February 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "ride, engine, legroom, handling, storage, fun!"

Cons: "front wheel drive, no limited slip diff"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"When this car launched it was the most powerful 4 door non turbo hatchback in its class. The interior space is very roomy. The car handles like a BMW, it has one of the best stick shifts i've ever used short of an actual sports car, and the engine has a very responsive pick up. It always gave me 30 miles to the gallon on the highway, and it made me happy every time I drove it. I utterly punished that car at times, and it never complained. The only major mechanical problems I had was that after 10 years the motor mounts needed replacing and the purge solenoid valve wore out. The car has treated me better than I ever imagined. It still looks better than new cars because Mazda just nailed the styling of that car. I'm going to miss her so dearly. I need the money. I don't have a choice. Lost my job that pays well, and my new one just isn't giving me enough. I'm sorry car. I love you."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking

By on Saturday, February 14, 2015

I don't own this car

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Power, reliability, interior quality, looks"

Cons: "City gas MPG, tire tread, High RPM on highway"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"My girl drove this car for three years straight, in and out of state, with nothing put into it but oil and tires. Excellent quality and reliability. It is a very comfortable car to drive on the high way and even being a manual trans city driving is smooth."

Love this car - zoom zoom

By on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "fun to drive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car is a blast to drive! I've heard complaints in the past about it being terrible in snow, if you know how to drive, and have good tires, this car can handle snow. I've driven this in many a snowstorm living in New Hampshire."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

This is just a great car. I love it.

By on Thursday, February 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great price & value, good looking, spacious"

Cons: "No auto hatch release"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Great value. Easy to drive and see. High safety rating and fuel efficiency. Dependable, just doesn't break down. Nice looking vehicle. Large capacity with the hatch back."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Great Commuter car for my wife.

By on Thursday, January 22, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Got a new 2015 Mazda 3 :)

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Cheap to maintain, great handling for a FWD car."

Cons: "Cheap feeling carpet and plastic interior."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We purchased our 2007 Mazda 3s Touring new and loved every mile of our 7 years of ownership. Maintenance wise, we needed tires around every 40k and brakes around every 60k. Other than not starting once due to a dead battery(replaced) and plugs and air filters as prescribed; the only parts I put on it were a set of motor mounts at 80k and a thermostat just before we sold it. It was still running like a top with regular maintenance. 5k oil changes with full synthetic and a drain and fill on the automatic transmission every 30k or so. Wouldn't have gotten rid of it but a dealer made us a great offer on a 2015 Mazda 3 Grand Touring(wagon)."

10 people out of 15 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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