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Finally, Mazda3 gets the MPS treatment

Full bottle: Three MPS shares its 2.3-litre DISI turbo engine with Mazda6 MPS.

The 184kW Mazda3 MPS broke cover three weeks ago: now Mazda reveals full details

6 Mar 2006

THE slick and quick Mazda3 MPS was revealed ahead of its global debut at last week's Geneva motor show, but now Mazda has revealed full details on the Mazda6 MPS's baby brother.

The Three MPS takes on turbocharged power and a six-speed manual gearbox to create a performance package approaching the Six-based AWD sedan – but with front-wheel drive only.

To be called Mazdaspeed Axela in Japan, Mazdaspeed3 in North America and, in other key regions including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Mazda3 MPS, the turbo Three is modelled on criteria Mazda describes as "driving fun, ownership delight and everyday user-friendly convenience".

The baby MPS comes with the 2.3-litre Mazda four-cylinder petrol engine (the same as that used in the Mazda6 MPS and designated 2.3L MZR DISI Turbo) producing more than 184kW at 5500rpm, along with a thumping 380Nm of torque at 3000rpm.

This is enough to propel it to 100km/h in a close to Subaru WRX/Renault Megane Sport time of 6.1 seconds, and on to a top speed of 250km/h.

Mazda says the MPS is one of the most powerful high-performance sports compacts with front-wheel drive on the road today.

The Mazda3 MPS is environmentally correct too, with good fuel economy and the ability to meet Euro IV emissions standards.

The direct-injection turbocharged powerplant is designed for economy, low emissions and powerful acceleration as well as a flat torque curve to provide good accelerator response across the rpm range.

Fuel is injected into the cylinders at pressures up to 11.5 MPa, which cools the combustion chambers and improves charging efficiency. Mazda says this can increase torque by up to 10 percent at around 3000rpm compared to a conventional manifold injection type turbo engine.

The transmission is the same six-speed manual seen in the Mazda6 MPS.

The Mazda3 MPS is based on the five-door Mazda3 hatchback and gets a tauter body than other versions, as well as specially tuned brakes and suspension.

Both the MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension have higher coil spring rates and larger diameter stabiliser bars than the soon-to-be facelifted Mazda3 range.

The dampers are also stiffer to assist handling. Dynamic stability control is also part of the MPS package, stepping in when the driver exceeds the limits of propriety, while the larger, all-wheel disc brakes employ ABS and brake assist.

22 center imageThe body of the MPS has also been given some aerodynamic aids that reduce drag and allow it to reach its 250km/h top speed.

Front guards are 20mm wider than on the base model to provide clearance for large tyres on 18-inch, 10-spoke aluminium alloy wheels.

The tailpipe gets a larger diameter (95mm) too, and there’s a roof spoiler with integrated high-mounted LED brake lights.

Inside, the MPS is identified by sports seats, a leather wrapped shift knob, aluminium pedals and stainless steel scuff plates.

Safety is taken care of by dual front airbags, front side airbags and full-length curtain airbags, while a collapsible steering column and a revised steering column further reduce the risk of driver injury in an accident.

The Mazda3 MPS is expected to come here in the second half of this year, priced from $40,000. It's likely to be offered in standard form and with an optional luxury pack similar to that available on the Mazda6 MPS.

The latter accounts for by far the biggest percentage of Mazda6 MPS sales.

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