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Used Mazda 3 review: 2009-2011

The Mazda3 MPS can be bought with a good level of confidence of a sound run well into the future.

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The hot hatch has been part of the motoring landscape since the Mini Cooper became a cult classic back in the 1960s. The Mini began with a cute little commuter, but then acquired a distinctive paint scheme and badges, a lowered stance and a hotted-up engine to become the giant-killing Mini Cooper and its successor, the even hotter Mini Cooper S.

The formula was set. Since the Mini established the hot hatch's go-fast credentials most carmakers have made their own versions, the Mazda3 MPS one of them. The hot Mazda hatch first hit the market in 2006 and was updated in 2009 with the BL model, which followed the age-old recipe by adding scoops, flares, spoilers and a hot turbocharged engine and sports suspension to promote the Mazda3 into a new performance league.

The MPS is readily identified by its bonnet scoop and aggressively styled front, along with its side skirts and rear spoiler. Inside, it has a sporty gearshift, pedals rearranged to make driving smoother, hip-hugging seats and a splash of leather. But of the looks are important for a hot hatch it's the performance that really matters, even if it's rarely exploited.

In the case of the MPS the performance comes courtesy of a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing a whopping 180kW and 380Nm. To put those numbers into perspective they were V8 numbers of a decade or so ago. Pressed hard it races through the six speeds of the gearbox, but cannily driven the massive torque available can be used to make for easier and safer overtaking and sharper response in traffic.

If there's anything to be concerned about it's that the MPS is front-wheel drive instead of being all-wheel drive, and with that amount of performance on tap it can be challenging to drive. The performance, however, is well supported by the suspension and steering, which have been retuned for better handling and response. On the safety front the MPS has an impressive array of safety gear, including front, side and curtain airbags, as well as ABS braking and electronic stability control.

Now

Mazda3 owners had little to complain about, the only issue they regularly raised with CarsGuide was the level of interior noise. That was mostly road noise transmitted through the body from the rear of the car, and could be annoying. The BL addressed that issue with a stronger body shell and better noise insulation, so that problem should be a thing of the past.

Other than that there is little to be concerned about with the Mazda3, so it can be bought with a good level of confidence of a sound run well into the future. When inspecting an MPS it's worth looking for signs of abuse. While most owners are content to let the looks do the talking, some will put them to the test on the road against other hot hatches, and some might find their way to a motorsport venue.

Look for signs of hard use, excessive tyre wear, a worn clutch etc. and walk away if you happen to find any. Always check for a service record to confirm in particular oil changes that are vital to ensuring the health of the engine, and always look for evidence that might suggest a car has been involved in a crash.

Smithy says

Ticks all the boxes a hot hatch should, give it a go. 4 stars

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2011 $4,400 $13,860
2010 $3,800 $12,100
2009 $3,100 $12,100

View all Mazda 3 pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$9,990
Based on 339 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$4,300
Highest Price
$15,995

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Diesel 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $3,900 – 6,270 2009 Mazda 3 2009 Diesel Pricing and Specs
Maxx 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $4,000 – 6,490 2009 Mazda 3 2009 Maxx Pricing and Specs
Maxx Sport 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $3,700 – 6,050 2009 Mazda 3 2009 Maxx Sport Pricing and Specs
MPS 2.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $6,300 – 9,790 2009 Mazda 3 2009 MPS Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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