The sporty and fuel-efficient 2008 Mazda3 is offered in three trim levels (Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring) and in two different body styles (a sedan and a sleek five-door hatchback).
Models designated "i" get a 148-horsepower, 2.0L four-cylinder engine, while "s" models get a 156-horsepower, 2.3L four-cylinder. California-emissions states get slightly detuned, partial zero emission vehicle (PZEV) versions of the engines making 144 horsepower and 151 horsepower, respectively. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, while an automatic transmission is optional on both--it's a four-speed on i models and a five-speed on s models.
Sedans are available in either i or s trim, allowing a choice of either engine, but five-door hatchbacks come only in s trim. The 2.3L offers peppier performance with only slightly lower fuel economy; with the manual, the 2.0L gets 24 miles per gallon city, 32 highway while the 2.3L is rated at 22 city, 29 highway.
At the top of the line is the high-performance MAZDASPEED3, which features a turbocharged 2.3L inline four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It delivers 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and a potent 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. The car rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and also features stability control, a limited-slip differential, a sport-tuned suspension with thick stabilizer bars, sport-tuned exhaust, and unique trim inside. Equal-length drive shafts and a smart electronic control of turbo boost help avoid the torque steer that sometimes accompanies high-power front-wheel drive cars.
Handling is a strong point for all Mazda3 s, with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear suspension. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist are standard on s models and optional on i models. Seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted curtain air bags are now standard on all s trim cars, and optional on i models. Stability control is optional on s Touring and s Grand Touring models.
Sport models in i trim come with manual windows, locks, and mirrors, and lack standard air conditioning, though many other desirable features come standard, such as tilt steering, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, rear heater ducts, and a four-speaker CD audio system. Sport models in s trim get power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, and cruise control.
Touring models in i trim feature keyless remote, dual power mirrors, air conditioning, power windows and locks with central locking. In s trim, the Touring offers anti-lock brakes, stability control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, a six-speaker sound system, halogen fog lamps, and side sill extensions.
Grand Touring models add automatic climate control, leather seats with front heating, a four-function trip computer, auto-leveling xenon headlights, clear-lens LED taillights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and several other features not usually seen on cars in this price class.
Popular options available across the Mazda3 line include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, remote starting, and Sirius satellite radio with a six-month subscription.
Warning lights-inc: brake system, high-beam on, turn signals on, hazard warning on, check engine, engine oil pressure, battery charge, defogger on, air bags, front seat belt pretensioner system, door ajar, low fuel, cruise control on
Pwr windows w/drivers 1-touch down feature
Driver illuminated window switch
Remote keyless illuminated entry w/answer back feature, panic button
Pwr door locks w/2-stage unlocking, central locking
Remote releases-inc: fuel door, hood, trunk
Engine immobilizer anti-theft system
AM/FM stereo w/CD/MP3 player-inc: (6) speakers, automatic level control (ALC), digital clock, auxiliary audio input jack
Satellite radio compatible audio system (requires additional dealer-installed hardware)
Roof-mounted mast-type antenna
Air conditioning-inc: pollen filter
Rear heater ducts
Rear window defogger
Front side window demisters
Illuminated locking glove box
Cigarette lighter & ashtray w/illumination
Piano black instrument panel trim insert
Black gloss-type finish trim-inc: center console, steering switch bezel, pwr window switch panel
Cloth door trim-inc: front/rear bottle holders & front door pockets