Mazda Speed 3: The Furious Hatchback That Time Left Behind

Carlos Kirby
· 3 min read
Sporty hatchback may sound like an oxymoron, but that's exactly what
built in the late 2000s with the Mazda Speed 3. In the never-ending rivalry with Subaru, Mazda made a sporty hatchback to compete on the American market. 
The Mazda Speed 3 debuted in 2007. While the concept of a souped-up hatchback may raise eyebrows to many, this speedster had impressive sales figures. The car is now discontinued, but we think it has unfairly been forgotten in car history. With that in mind, join us on a walk down memory lane and learn why this car shouldn't be forgotten. 
If you were a late 2000s Mazda fan, you’ll surely remember the Mazda Speed 3.

Origins of the Mazda Speed 3

Before the rise of SUVs, hatchbacks were everywhere. Those of us of a certain age remember that the hatchback was the preferred vehicle for families. They were more nimble than vans and offered plenty of space for groceries and sporting gear. 
In the 90s and 00s, hatchbacks were on the way out in favor of SUVs. It was a special time in history when gas was very cheap. With such cheap fuel, people wanted big cars like an Explorer or Suburban.
However, carmakers weren't ready to give up hatchbacks just yet. They tried to make them more sporty to garner more popularity. Ford produced the Focus TI, Volkswagen came out with the Golf TDI, and Mazda developed the Mazda Speed 3. 
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The Mazda Speed 3: not your momma's hatchback

Just firing up the Mazda Speed 3 lets you know that this car can do more than shuttle kids to soccer practice. A lot more. This little beast came with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It produced 263 HP and went from 0-60 MPH in 5.5 seconds. Of course, these aren't sports car specs, but it was impressive for a hatchback. 
The Mazda Speed 3 was only available in a manual transmission, something that would never happen today. This little speedster caught the attention of professional car nerds, and Car Driver placed it on their top 10 list of best cars, as documented by
. Critics would go on to say that it outperformed Subaru's WRX, the premier sport hatchback of the era. 

Why was the Speed 3 discontinued?

MORE: Mazda Protege: A Car That Paved the Way for the Mazda 3
The Mazda Speed 3 was quite successful in its launch, but the honeymoon was over by the second generation. While still a fun car, the second-generation Speed 3 seemed to take a step backward. The interior wasn't as nice, the handling was a little rough, and many would agree that the Ford Focus ST was the new king of sporty hatchbacks. 
In 2013, Mazda brought back the Mazda 3 hatchback with a sporty redesign. As the company only really needs one sporty hatchback in their product line, the Mazda Speed 3 got the ax. In a way, you could say the Mazda 3 is the spiritual successor of the Speed 3. 
Even if you drive a Mazda Speed 3,
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