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Mazda reveals Three MPS details

Line ball: New Mazda3 MPS gets a wild new look, but only minor power gains.

Wild new Mazda3 MPS emerges at Geneva, complete with full European specifications

6 Mar 2009

FULL European details have been revealed for the Mazda3 MPS hot-hatch replacement due on sale in Australia by September.

Australian specifications are not expected to depart significantly from the European model data released at this week’s Geneva motor show, which played host to the debuts of both the new CX-7 turbo-diesel variant and the redesigned five-door MPS.

The latter also made its Australian premiere at the Melbourne motor show within hours of its global debut at Geneva, where Mazda confirmed its small, front-drive MPS would deliver only incremental performance gains.

Draped in an all-new hatchback bodyshell, the new Mazda3 MPS continues to employ the Japanese maker’s turbocharged direct-injection (DISI) MZR 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, which in Euro V emissions guise develops 191kW at 5500rpm and 380Nm at 3000rpm.

That’s up just 1kW on the official premium unleaded-fuelled output of Australia’s current MPS Three, although the official EEC combined fuel consumption rating is 9.2L/100km – compared with 10.0L/100km for the outgoing model’s ADR 81/01 figure of 10.0L/100km. The European model is said to be about 0.5L/100km more efficient due to an improved aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.32Cd.

Similarly, the European Mazda3 MPS is claimed to sprint to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds – three-tenths quicker than the existing Australian version (6.4 seconds). The European model has an official top speed of 250km/h.

22 center imageThe feistiest Three will remain a manual-only proposition, with the six-speed gearbox featuring wider gear ratios and lower-viscosity transmission fluid to reduce shift effort when cold.

While the superseded Mazda3 MPS weighs 1403kg, no official kerb weight was provided for the European version, although weight is expected to increase marginally in line with other second-generation Mazda3 models. Mazda says the torque-sensing limited-slip front differential is accompanied by ‘optimised’ front drive shafts to reduce understeer.

The newest MPS is 75mm longer than before at 4505mm, as well as 5mm wider at 1770mm, while its turning circle stays at 11 metres thanks to only slight modifications to the car’s wheel and tyre package, which comprises same-size RX-8-style 7.0x18-inch alloys with one-size-wider 225/40-section rubber.

Like the new-look Mazda small hatch upon which it is based, the MkII Mazda3 MPS will boast extra torsional chassis rigidity and improved noise, vibration and harshness.

The MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems comprise modified coil spring rates, larger-diameter anti-roll bars with longer mount spans and revised damping to increase roll stiffness, while an extra steering gear mount bushing is said to deliver improved steering response.

A new electronic brake assist system mates with standard anti-lock braking and electronic stability control systems.

Visually, specific to the new model are a new bonnet air intake, aggressive new front and rear bumpers (the former with black metallic-finish upper and lower grilles), cylindrical bi-Xenon headlights, beefier side skirts, LED tail-lights and a bigger, ‘floating’ rear hatch spoiler.

Inside, the new Mazda3 MPS sports a driver-oriented, wrap-around dashboard with a new MPS-badged tacho, new LED turbo boost gauge and new semi-bucket front seats with black and red cloth trim.

Just as next month’s Mazda3 sedan and hatch range will be priced slightly higher than before, Australia’s weaker dollar value and increased raw materials costs will likely mean the Mazda3 MPS, which currently costs ($39,750), will be priced on the high side of $40,000.

While Ford’s Focus XR5 Turbo hatch ($36,990) and Holden’s three-door Astra SRi Turbo ($35,290) retain their price advantages, the Mazda’s other chief hot-hatch rivals will continue to include the Subaru Impreza WRX sedan and hatch ($39,990), Honda’s upgraded Civic Type R hatch, which went on sale this week priced at $41,990, plus Mitsubishi’s Lancer Ralliart SST sedan and hatch ($42,990), and Renault’s Megane RS Sport Cup hatch ($43,990).

Read more:

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Mazda accelerates new ‘3’ release

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