The Mazda 3 MPS will return, but not for quite a while yet. On the plus side, the Japanese company could be aiming for hotted-up performance versions of multiple models such as the Mazda 6 and forthcoming CX-4 as well.
The drivetrain of choice for bigger versions, as we understand it, could be a turbocharged version of the current 2.5-litre petrol engine it uses across its range. The theory goes that the company has developed such an engine for the new CX-9 that premieres next month. Such a downsized engine would bring the requisite cuts to fuel use over the current car’s V6.
Bad news first. We spoke with Mazda’s global marketing chief Masahiro Moro in Frankfurt this week, who said the company wanted to bring back the Mazda 3 MPS in time, but that it had been put aside to free up resources for projects such as the CX-4 crossover.
A new MPS could build on the old version's 190kW of power, and potentially even offer a version of the CX-5's AWD system, cost pending.
The mission for Mazda is to occupy at least 60 per cent of the world’s market segments by growing its small range, though not just willy-nilly. Read here to get the rundown on why Mazda sees the CX-4 as the answer to a particular problem.
This appears to be an about-face from what we understood to be Mazda’s plan, which was to roll out its whole ‘core’ range on new SkyActiv architecture, and then introduce sports versions as icing. The CX-9 to premiere next month marks the end of this phase 1.
Good news now. Mazda seems to feel strongly that it’s no good just to offer a Mazda 3 MPS to serve as a counterpoint to its MX-5. Instead, it appears set on hotted-up versions of its whole model range, or at least most of it.
“MPS itself is not a short-term solution for us right now,” said Moro-san. “We have other priorities.
“[But] we don’t deny more sportier execution in long-term. What we don't like is to only limit it to one or two car lines.”
So, we’ll have to wait for an MPS, but when it comes, it should herald the rollout of more derivatives. Swings and roundabouts? It’s worth recalling that Mazda’s modular architecture makes it relatively straightforward to share drivetrains across multiple model lines.
Hopefully we have the right end of the stick here. A range of hot Mazdas would not only do well in Australia, where performance cars make up a huge chunk of sales, but they would act as a nice counterpoint to the reborn RX rotary we expect to see in concept form next month in Tokyo.