excuse the long opening post. I had to get this out.
Hi all, I'm a current 04 3i owner, looking to eventually buy a Mazdaspeed3. I've been following the Speed3 ever since it first made its US debut, being a frequent of the forums. Owning a MS3 has always been in in the back of my mind, but I've felt more serious about it lately.
This past weekend, me and the girlfriend made a trip up to Lake Tahoe, NV. The elevation up there is about 7,000 ft., and the altitude took its toll on my car's performance. My 2nd gear felt like 5th gear, which didn't work really well for those times a passing lane opened up, and the slowpoke in front of me decided to keep pace with me in order to prevent my passing.
In terms of mods, I did the usual CAI and CBE thing (both Mazdaspeed items, for the curious), as well as the TB bypass mod and the Buddy Club Condenser. However, at about 40k miles, I switched my stock clutch (burned out) and flywheel (for the hell of it) for stronger/lighter ones, which ended up being more of a problem than a benefit - the lack of momentum in the lighter fly makes it harder to move from a stop, and my 5th gear acceleration suffers BADLY on an uphill. Also, I upgraded my 15" wheels/tires (stock) to the 17" wheels found on the 04-06 3s models. Cosmetically, it kicks my old 15" steelies' ass. Performance wise, it negated any gains made by my mods - my car now feels more or less like it did stock, due to the extra effort needed to turn the wheels.
My car felt like a slug after passing 5000 feet going up the mountain, and pretty much felt like that until we came back down to the SF bay area a few days later. Take into account the lighter flywheel and tire/wheel upgrade killing my minimal performance gains, add 2 more people in the back seat for a total of 4 people, and you have a car that feels like it's making 80hp at 4500RPM.
My point is that the sluggish trip up to, around, and down from Lake Tahoe made me realize how nice some extra power would be. On my way down the mountain, a dark gray MS3 (forgot the official paint name for it) passed me up, and that's when the bug really hit me. I wanted to try out a Speed3. I knew a lot about the car, despite never having driven one (thanks M3F
), and read/watched a lot of reviews/comparisons, but I wanted to try it for myself.
So today I went to the local Mazda dealer (Team Mazda/Hyundai in Vallejo, CA) to try one out. To make it simple, the MS3 is everything I love about my car, and more. The handling is spot on, it has almost twice the power of my own car, and it has a much more aggressive look to it. I loved punching the accelerator in 5th/6th gear and actually passing cars on the freeway. All gears have this godly accleration - keep in mind my girlfriend and the salesperson (who was pretty heavy looking) were in the car. Still, the car didn't fail to impress. I then went back to my own car in a slump knowing that my car was nothing compared to that.
I plan on trying to buy the car sometime in Spring 09. That's where my agony starts. I'm going to school to become a psychiatric technician, while on the Nursing program waitlist. I'll work as a psych tech to make money and kill time on the waitlist. Problem: I graduate in December 2009, and probably won't start working as a PT til Jan '10. I currently work part time at Target, and will continue to do so up until my graduation.
The thing that really pains me is not knowing whether or not the Speed3 will be discontinued in mid 2009 due to the 2010 model facelift. I see that's still a topic being debated over here even now. My dealer's manager told me that from what he's heard, the Speed3 isn't gonna be discontinued anytime soon (i.e. 2011, 2012) since it's such a hot seller. And yes, he knows about the 2010 model revamp. I'm taking that info with a grain of salt though, I can't see them continuing the Speed3 with the current bodystyle while the regular 3s look completely different. It's a potential ray of hope though.
Me, the girlfriend, and my cousin were researching the situation last night, talking about loans, trade in values, insurance, parents nagging, etc. My car has a trade-in value of a little over $7,000 in Good condition according to kbb.com. How much can I expect if the mods are factored in? Say I actually got $7000 for the 3i, I'd be willing to throw in an extra $3000 to make the initial payment $10k. The specific car I wanted has an MSRP of $25,125, and after dealer markup, it comes out to abour $30k. That leaves me with $20k to pay off via a loan or dealership financing.
I was hoping I could get some advice or input on the situation. Is the grand total of $30k asking too much? What do people pay on average for the car?
(Insurance is a whole other story. I'll leave it at that unless someone needs the details to help assess things more.)