A new GTI rival could appear with the company's 2.5-litre turbo and all-wheel drive, but has yet to be signed off.
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Kota Beppu, program manager for the Mazda 3, has confirmed he is interested in creating a "hyper" version of the popular small car.

He told Autocar there was interest in the vehicle from Mazda's US, Japan and Australian arms, but cautioned the project had yet to be signed off.

Unnamed insiders have told the magazine approval for the new variant is virtually a certainty. Indeed, the company's US research and development centre has reportedly developed a proof-of-concept vehicle.

Beppu said the turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine used in the CX-9 and range-topping versions of the CX-5 and Mazda 6 is the obvious choice for the hotted-up Mazda 3.

In the crossover and family sedan the turbo motor generates 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque. For comparison's sake, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance has a 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo engine.

To overcome the engine's torque and the car's low mass, it's likely the hot hatch will employ all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive variants of the Mazda 3 have been available in certain markets past and present, like North America and Japan.

Should the hot Mazda 3 be given the green light, it's unclear what label it will be given. The last turbo Mazda 3 was sold as the MPS (above) in Australia and Europe, and as a Mazdaspeed model in other markets.

Unlike that car, Beppu thinks any new Mazda 3 hot hatch should be both fast and "more friendly than a Golf GTI".