Starting at less than $25,000, the Mazdaspeed 3 should appeal to all younger enthusiasts thanks to its balance of speed, practicality and affordability.

Mazdaspeed, Mazda's internal high-performance tuning and race division, has a long history in Japan. Known for producing exciting limited-edition performance models, the division turned its attention to the second-generation Mazda 3 and the result is the Mazdaspeed 3. Note that this article is about the second-generation model; we also have a review of the first-generation car, known as the Mazda Mazdaspeed Mazda 3.

The Mazdaspeed 3 features a turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension and many other exclusive components. Priced affordably, the second-generation Mazdaspeed 3 is a performance bargain that should appeal to any enthusiast thanks to its balance of speed, practicality and affordability.

Current Mazdaspeed 3 The Mazdaspeed 3 is a front-wheel-drive, high-performance hatchback with four doors. Its turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine pumps out 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. Zero to 60 mph takes 6.3 seconds, which is pretty quick for this class of car.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, a limited-slip differential, foglights, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, front sport seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a Bose stereo with a CD player and iPod/USB interface. Option highlights include adaptive bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry and a navigation system.

In reviews, our editors have noted that this Mazdaspeed 3 handles markedly better than the previous-generation model, posting superior results in both instrumented handling tests and subjective canyon drives. We've also lauded the high-quality interior materials and upscale dashboard design. There is plenty of cargo room in the rear hatch, and the 60/40 split rear seats fold down to open up even more space. There's also decent seating room in back for adults.

On the downside, the exterior styling is controversial, and while the 2.3-liter turbo doesn't fall flat at higher rpm like it did in the first-generation car, it also hasn't gained any power. Moreover, torque steer remains an unwelcome companion when accelerating hard on uneven surfaces or powering out of corners. Overall, the Mazdaspeed 3 isn't without its faults, but we still rate it very highly among cars of this type.

Used Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Models The current-generation Mazdaspeed 3 debuted for 2010 and carried on for the first few years with only minimal changes. The optional navigation system for the 2010-'12 cars was a smaller, less useful version than the larger touchscreen unit found in the current Mazdaspeed 3.

Find a Used Mazda MAZDASPEED3 Near You