Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mazdaspeed 3?

I make no secret that I'm a Mazda fan. I really really like my current Protege. It doesn't have amazing pickup, but it handles like a dream. I thought about buying the Mazdaspeed Protege instead of my car, but it was $5k more for 30 horses, a limited slip differential, and higher fuel costs because of the low-boosting turbo. I wasn't impressed.

Then they replaced the Protege with the Mazda3. I was a bit leery. The Mazda3 is built on the same platform as the Euro focus (but not the American focus which is the older design). I've driven a base model 3 when my car was in for service. The 3 is larger than the Protege, which makes for better interior room. But the base engine is the Mazda 2 liter in my car and the suspension is softer and less responsive. The end result was a slightly bigger, slower car that didn't turn as well. I wasn't impressed, but then again I'd never buy the base model. I'd buy the 2.3 liter sport model with 30 more horses and the suspension I like.

Now Mazda has introduced the Mazdaspeed 3. Well actually they introduced the Mazda3 MPS, which is the Euro version. It's the 5 door sportwagon variant of the 3, but with the same turbocharged 2.3 liter that is in the all-wheel drive Mazdaspeed 6. This is an engine that makes ~275 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque. But the 3 weighs 300 lbs less than the 6 and is just front wheel drive. It's scary. I have to wonder how this car compares to the Euro Focus rally cars kicking the crap out of everybody on the WRC.

Thankfully my Protege still has several years of life left in it, or I could be getting myself into real trouble.

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