Hot Mazda 3 on the cards to take on VW Golf GTI

Mazda is set to give a higher performance 3 the green light, with 2.5-litre turbo motor the most likely powerplant

Mazda is developing a hotter version of the new Mazda3, expected to get the green light before 2021 – but it may not come to Europe.

In launching the fourth-generation small car in Australia, visiting program manager Kota Beppu said he wants a “hyper” version of the hatchback.

“I’m a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high performance Mazda3… I’ll do my best,” he said. Although he claimed the project had not been officially signed off, insiders suggest that is a formality. Beppu said there was keen interest from “most developed countries”, including the US, Japan and Australia.

While various drivetrain configurations have been discussed, it is the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine from larger US-spec Mazdas that is the most likely powerplant. “Generally speaking we would use the motor to get more performance,” Beppu said in shunning a hot hybrid version.

With 247bhp the 2.5’s output falls a bit short of the latest crop of hot hatches, but 310lb-ft of torque brings its own challenges.  “Mazda3 is a light vehicle, so if there is too much power … and we keep it as front-wheel drive there is the torque steer phenomenon happening,” he said, nominating the all-wheel drive system that’s already developed for the new torsion beam rear-end as an obvious solution.

But Beppu doesn’t see any high performance Mazda3 as a track-focused tearaway, instead suggesting the emphasis would be comfort and everyday road use. “It needs to be responsible and friendly… more friendly than a Golf GTI,” he said, though adding “it should be fast”.

He refers to such a car as a “hyper” Mazda3 rather than a hot hatch. It remains unclear if the brand will therefore use the MPS or Mazdaspeed branding for such a model.

But it’s CO2 that is one of the biggest challenges for a hot 3, something that could challenge its European viability. The forced induction 2.5-litre engine is not currently sold in the region, and may not meet the efficiency requirements to do so. 

The is clear interest from the crucial US market, however, which has its own R&D centre in Los Angeles and has reportedly created a proof-of-concept machine under the radar of the brand’s Hiroshima head office.

Mazda last sold a hot 3 with the second generation car in 2013 (above), under the MPS tag in Europe and badged as a Mazdaspeed. 

Toby Hagon

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Source: Autocar

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