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Mazda's new Mazda3 MPS hot hatch torques the torque

17 Nov 2009

PERHAPS someday, when historians look up ‘torque steer’ in the Funk and Wagnall’s, they might see a picture of a 2006 Mazda3 MPS parked alongside the infamous Saab 9-3 Viggen of the late 1990s. That’s how unruly the old one could be, but thankfully Mazda has quelled the steering fight – and improved a bunch of other things besides – to create a likeable alternative to the class-leading VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus XR5 Turbo.

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Model release date: 1 July 2009 to 1 December 2013

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Mazda3 MPS

Released: July 2006
Ended: May 2009
Family Tree: Mazda3

MAZDA redefined torque steer with its first-generation Mazda3-based MPS released in mid 2006. Powered by the same four-cylinder direct-injection turbo petrol engine as found in the underrated Mazda6 MPS, the smaller version lacked the all-wheel drive system, meaning that the front wheels – in certain conditions – would scrabble uncontrollably for traction or, worse still, make the car dart violently to one side unless the driver was constantly on the ball. At the time of its launch the mighty little MPS was also the most powerful front-wheel drive in the world – its 2.3-litre engine delivered 190kW and 380Nm of torque. Two well-equipped models were offered, standard and Sports Pack, with the latter adding niceties like xenon headlights and leather seats.

But in the end, and despite quite a loyal following, the Japanese scorcher did not bother the class-leading Golf GTI and Focus XR5 Turbo.

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