click above for high-res images of the 2007 Mazdaspeed3 After the second or third hard right-hander, there was a noticeable lack of conversation in the car. Brad, my intrepid photog friend, grew quiet as I caned the Mazdaspeed3 through corner after corner, increasing the pace each time, braking later and laying into the throttle sooner. With the LSD working overtime, the handling bar continued to move until finally the howl coming from the front tires evolved into understeer. A quick lift off the throttle tucked the nose in without drama and then the quest to find the limits began anew. I turned to ask my camera-clutching companion if all was right on that side of the car. He nodded in the affirmative and the fun continued. Mile after mile of twists and undulations were dispatched without complaint. When we finally pulled off to take stock, both of us were convinced that Mazda's 'Speed team is one of the best in-house tuners in the biz. Not particularly because of the MS3's prodigious power, but because its creators took the already competent 3 and created a cohesive package that ticks off all the right boxes for the enthusiast on a budget. %Gallery-12625% All photos Copyright ©2007 Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc. Granted, we're a little late to the game. We've seen enough Mazdaspeed3s on the road to know that the combination of price and performance has landed it on the shortlists of people looking for a competent corner carver with a healthy dose of practicality. But we weren't content to assume that the MS3 was just another valid option for speed merchants with $25k burning a hole in their pocket. We had to see for ourselves, so when our Sunlight Silver Metallic tester found its way to the Autoblog Garage, we almost forgot to lock the door before we made our way to the nearest desolate road. One of the more appealing aspects of the MS3 is its understated exterior. Only those in the know, or people able to scope out the Mazdaspeed3 badge on the hatch, will be able to tell that this is more than the standard five-door model. Mazda is intent, however, on making its 'Speed models standout from its lesser siblings, albeit in some very subtle ways. The hood is a bit taller, with a steeper rake angling towards the headlamps that accommodates extra cooling ducts for the intercooler and turbo, the front fenders are a bit wider and the front fascia gets a deeper air dam with restyled fog lamps. Making your way out back, passing the ten-spoke 18x7-inch wheels, you'll find a beefier rear spoiler perched above the rear window and a mildly restyled bumper with a larger exhaust tip. On the inside, Mazdaspeed-emblazoned doorsills tie in nicely with the matching brushed-aluminum pedals, while the chunky steering wheel found on the standard Mazda3 is left intact (with some added red stitching) and fitted with redundant audio system controls. Our tester came in Grand Touring trim, which …
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|MPG||20 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||263 @ 5500 rpm|
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