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2008 Mazda MAZDA3

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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 1233 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

Feelin Frisky at 138,000 Miles

By on Thursday, January 07, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 138,000

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
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfy drive, good gas mileage, fun five speed"

Cons: "No cruise control"

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

"Drives like it did the day we bought it, and it was six years old 3 years ago. Normal wear and tear and service is all I've had to do to it in terms of service and repairs. The only thing wrong with it is my exhusband's aftermarket door locks stopped working and my dad's cheap aftermarket lights are no good.Surprise surprise. I am having the factory lights re-installed. Love this car. You will pry it from my cold dead hands. Maybe."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best care I have ever owned.

By on Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great handling, fuel economy, reliability"

Cons: "None"

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

"I purchased the car used and have put about 100k miles on it, and have had very few complaints. The Mazda3 is fun to drive, fuel efficient, sporty, and still looks good at 11 years old. Reliability is above average. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely still have purchased this vehicle."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

8 years of fun driving/low cost maintenance

By on Wednesday, December 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 117,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Quality built in Japan.ave 28 mpg,still looks good"

Cons: "nothing out of the ordinary"

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

"Bought with 22,000 miles from original owner. Now at 117,000. Replace one motor mount and a fuel/oxygen sensor plus normal things that wear out. Great handling, heated seats work well, Bose system is great and factory navigation is nice. With dedicated snow tires it does well in snow. I've had 5 Mazda 3 cars and they have all been top notch. Got two friends to by them as well and they love them."

10 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Love my ride. Moving Internationally.

By on Sunday, November 08, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "An affordable, reliable and fun ride. Sporty."

Cons: "Minor Cosmetic Upgrades (optional)"

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

"Well maintained & Regular Service (Including Regular Oil Changes) New Tyres (within 6 months) Clean (Non-smoker) New Brake Pads $25/Tank (Max) - will last for at least a week (depends on how much you drive). Affordable as a new used car or first timer car owner. No Rust."

14 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Love this car

By on Thursday, October 15, 2015

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

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
5/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great value"

Cons: "clock changes and resetting radio stations"

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

"Have driven this car through heat, cold, snow, rain...Handles well in all conditions. Had to replace battery last year, and brakes this year. Other than that and the normal upkeep - oil changes, new tires etc., no problems with this car - it's a great value"

8 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Most Reliable, Fun, Useful, Incredibly Awesome Car

By on Sunday, September 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 195,000

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, cheap to maintain, great gas mileage"

Cons: "I truly have none."

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

11 Years Later.

"I purchased this car brand new back in 2004 and have had it running like a champ since 2015. I have 195,000 miles on it and the only ACTUAL work I had to do on it was a new alternator ($100), a new water/heat pump ($200). Everything else was your typical service needs like brakes, struts, rotors, etc. All in all, I think I've had to put in around $500 in parts having to be replaced that just went with age. The car was incredible for everything I used it for. I've moved four times with it, drove across country, had incredibly awesome gas mileage with it. Even the times it was in an accident, I was able to drive away unscathed, even after being hit at 90 MPH on a highway from behind. The car is like the energizer bunny..it just keeps going and going. I ended up trading it recently for a JEEP 4x4 as it's what my lifestyle calls for now, and honestly...if my mazda was made for off road..I would have kept it until the wheels fell off. Trading it in was like sending your child off to college, it's extremely hard to let go knowing all the good times you had with it, but it was it's time and I spent 11 years driving one of the best cars I've ever had. Couldn't ask for anything better."

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

11 Years Later.

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