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2008 Mazda MAZDA3

Overview
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2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

By

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.
Favorite Features

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)

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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2008 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 1169 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
    9.4/10

Great 2nd car, new tire, battery & brakes 40 MPG

By on Thursday, March 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Great price, fun to drive"

Cons: "no auto door lock, roll up windows"

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

07 Mazda3, auto, air, new tires battery, brakes runs great! 83,000 40 MPG

"Excellent condition, used for 2nd car, great in or out of town car, NEW tires, battery and front brakes, 83,000 CD, Air, basic car."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

07 Mazda3, auto, air, new tires battery, brakes runs great! 83,000 40 MPG

I have never gone wrong with a Mazda

By on Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "good value, fun to drive, no problems"

Cons: "gas mileage not quite what I hoped for - 28 mpg"

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

"This is my third Mazda and I have always been very happy with them. Only one service issue in 5 years. This car is very dependable, fun to drive, easy to keep. And it seems to be holding it's value. I would buy Mazda's over and over again."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

close to a lemon

By on Friday, March 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "fun to drive"

Cons: "would not buy another mazda after this one"

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

"Multiple mechanical issues, fair amount of rust in rear fenders, worst parking brake ever, and front headlights burn out at least twice a year!!"

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Mazda= Value

By on Friday, February 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"All my Mazda's 73 808, 78 GLC, 82 626, 92 929, and this 2008 Mazda 3 Hatchback Sport w.2.3 auto have been excellent cars. This one is only on 65K but all of the previous models were retired after they reached 250K."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Love this car

By on Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000

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
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Reliability, gas mileage, quality interior"

Cons: "None"

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

"I've had this car 10 years, and still love it. The interior looks new. It runs perfectly. It's been in the shop only for regular maintenance. This model year has kind of a Volvo S40 look, which I like a lot better than the sporty, muscular style of the newer Mazda 3s. My only gripe - I'm starting to see a bit a rust on one of the back wheel wells. Highly recommend this car."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Would not trade it for another car in it's class

By on Monday, February 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

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: "Fun to drive. Handles well. Looks cool"

Cons: "Road noise."

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

Lights on

"Has decent power. You can feel the car out when you push it,to it's limits. Fun to drive on winding roads."

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Lights on

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