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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 1226 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

Having the 2006 makes me crave the 2016

By on Saturday, July 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

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
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "price mpg comfort reliability & cup holders."

Cons: "Dash design limits personal options"

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

"I could spend days looking for bad things to say about this car, and still have nothing more than some minor personal preferences. The entertainment system is not easy to replace with with alternate brands. (But it is not too shabby to begin with.) I've gone through 22 tires in 8 years, but the North East US is not known for the smoothness of its roads and I choose the 17" lower profiles. That was probably poor planning on my part. On the upside, I have driven this car in thick traffic, open highway, and country roads. 100F Summer days, -35F winter nights, and snow that kept SUV owners home. The car has handled each case with relative ease. The engine has solid compression and acceleration is great. Passing power even at highway speed+ (70-75) is very respectable. Handling is one of the best I've experienced, especially on those country roads, reminding me of a Fiat x1/9 for curve hugging and road stickiness. It has needed no major repair other than front strut replacement, again roads are not made of marshmallow, and still can get between 27-29 mpg on the highway depending on speed and outside temperature. I've traveled as much as 45 hours over 5 days in it and the front comfort was great. Back seats are more than 2+2 style, but at 6'0" I would consider them form someone a bit more proportional to the leg room on trips more than 90 minutes. Overall, I have no reason to consider trading it out other than I adore the styling of the new models and hope the other attributes are similar. I would buy a 2015 or 2016 in a heartbeat."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Love love love

By on Thursday, July 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"This car is so cute & fun. I love it! Not a lot of leg room in back seat, but I don't often have passengers back there. My friends who are moms & drive vans or suburbans all love to ride in my car. The compact size is perfect for squeezing into parking spaces. Before this I've always owned GM. But this is my favorite car I've owned! ZOOM ZOOM"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Drives very well & is in great condition

By on Friday, July 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 89,000

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
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, great price, interiors pretty, roomy"

Cons: "No aux"

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

"Drives very smooth. I've never had it break down on me or have any problems with it. Fast little cute car. Its very roomy and alot of trunk space. Leather seats. FM/AM radio works well. Automatic. A lot of cup holder space. Sun roof. So far my best car"

5 people out of 11 found this review helpful

I'll missit- best car I've ever had!

By on Saturday, June 20, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: worried about age of car

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, tons of storage, reliable"

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

"I unwillingly traded in my dream car (which was unreliable) for this in high school and did not want to like the Mazda3, but I fell in love with it! I drove this car for ten years and only traded it in because the sun here was too hard on it and there were some dry rot issues, plus it was starting to act its age. It was a hard decision, but since this car did right by me for so long, I traded it in for a 2015 Mazda3. The new one is even more of a dream to drive, but I'm still going to miss my cute little '05. I always thought the front looked a bit cat-like and adorable."

6 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Mazdaspeed3 Grand Touring

By on Friday, June 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
6/10

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

"This has been a wonderful car. Sharp styling, beautiful interior styling in the Grand Touring with red accents in the leather/suede interior. Sporty, very sharp handling. There is nothing negative I can say about this car. A little rough riding, but what do you expect in a car this speed oriented? Good gas mileage for a turbocharged car."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

good transportation, reliable but basic

By on Thursday, June 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "good, basic car"

Cons: "noisy and body is cheap"

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

"Good, basic, dependable transportation. Nothing fancy but gets you there and back. No major repairs necessary to engine or drivetrain. Body is lots of fiberglass and it is noisy. Never had an accident but brakes were there when I needed them and has enough pickup to get out of the way."

7 people out of 9 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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