Nov 20 2009 Ian Johnson
Mazda powers with new hot hatch
WE MAY be going through an austere recession, but it seems that the car industry just cannot keep the brakes on high performance hatchback development.
One of the latest road rockets to enter the fray is the flagship of the newly introduced Mazda3 range - the potent 260ps Mazda3 MPS.
Standing for Mazda Performance Series, the new 'super-hatch' tops the Mazda3 range with a price of £21,500.
The MPS is a statement of Mazda's Zoom Zoom marketing jingle and the truth is that it cannot stop zooming, such is its depth of performance. At its heart lies a 2.3-litre DISI* Turbo engine, a development of the engine that powered the previous model but has been modified to comply with Euro5 emissions requirements without a loss of power.
Sprinting to 62mph in just 6.1 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155mph are just part of the story. A responsive chassis (41 per cent stiffer than its predecessor) allows for finer tuning of the modified suspension which It has been lowered by 5mm compared to other new Mazda3 models.
The Mazda3 MPS differs visually from the rest of the Mazda3 range thanks to its new-style 18-inch alloy wheels and its unique body styling kit with a bonnet scoop, front and rear sports bumpers, side skirts and a large rear spoiler. The rear bumper adds 20mm to the length of the car over the regular Sport model. The upwardly-swept lower grill even looks like a smile.
This is one of those rare models where just about everything is thrown in - there are no factory-fitted options available. Equipment includes satellite navigation, dual zone climate control, push button start, adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, Rear Vehicle Monitoring system and a premium audio system.
Key task for the MPS is to deliver a combination of even more exhilarating driving fun and everyday compact car practicality. And this it achieves in fine measure with a high degree and stability and safety, crisp, precise responses thrown in.
Mazda's weight-reducing 'Gram Strategy' helps to reduce CO2 emissions by three per cent and ensure the new model meets the stricter Euro5 emission standards.
As before, this turbocharged petrol engine generates 260ps and 380Nm of torque (at just 3000rpm) and drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission An electronic throttle and electronic boost pressure underpins its stunningly fast acceleration without turbo lag.-
The MPS is playing a vital part in the upward spiral of Mazda UK which posted its second best year in 2008 with total sales at 50,402 units, only two per cent down on the record set in 2007, and enough for a best-ever 2.3 percent slice of the market.