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Mazda 3 turbo hot hatch percolating

Company's powerful Australian division supporting the cause of a turbocharged Mazda 3 performance leader alongside SkyActiv-X model
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The odds of a turbocharged Mazda 3 hot hatch returning to the fold in the near future remain long, but the company’s over-performing Australian division strongly supports the cause.

Given the new generation Mazda 3 hatch is unashamedly a design-led model, sacrificing interior space to give you a coupe-like look and feel, a reborn MPS-type offer seems an obvious addition.

Global program manager Kota Beppu acknowledged “keen interest” from both Mazda’s sales divisions all over the developed world, and from the company’s own engineers, at the recent local launch event for the regular Mazda 3 range.

It’s not such a stretch to imagine the company’s 170kW 2.5-litre turbo-four used in the CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs and Mazda 6 mid-sizer being shoehorned into the Mazda 3, matched with six-speed manual and auto transmissions, and an on-demand AWD system with G-Vectoring right?

We just had a chat with Mazda Australia’s marketing director Alastair Doak, and asked him to expand on the usual scuttlebutt.

“The program manager did express the desire to see if he could get the 2.5 turbo into Mazda 3, that’s on his list, though it doesn't mean it’s official. But looking to see where Mazda 3 could go,” he said.

“Obviously we won’t be doing anything to discourage him from that…” he added, drily.

Given the disproportionately high sales here of models such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Renault Megane R.S. and Hyundai i30 N, and furthermore given Mazda’s status in Australia’s as the number-two brand by market share, it would seem Doak is understating things…

The current performance leader in the Mazda 3 range is the 2.5-litre atmo engine with 139kW/252Nm, which is far from sluggish but certainly no firebrand either.

One addition we do know to be confirmed is the SkyActiv-X petrol engine, which theoretically blends diesel efficiency and torque with petrol refinement and peakiness by using a system called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition. It’ll likely be a new range-topper priced around $39,990 when it lobs in December/January.

We drove a prototype 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X petrol engine with which Mazda is aiming to achieve an output of around 142kW and 230Nm of torque with a real world Corolla hybrid-nudging fuel efficiency use of roughly 5L/100km That would certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Beyond all this, though not relevant to the Mazda 3, Mazda also recently committed to bringing back the six-cylinder, with an investor report revealing the brand is working on a pair of longitudinally-oriented inline engines with 48V and plug-in hybrid technology.

In a presentation dubbed Fiscal Year 2019 March Results there's a graphic dedicated to future product and, under the "Large Architecture" header, features straight-six Skyactiv-X and Skyactiv-D engines.

The presentation also confirms the engines will be longitudinally-mounted, available with all-wheel drive, and backed by either 48V or plug-in hybrid augmentation. The slides were initially reported on Jalopnik, which received the following response from a Mazda spokesperson when asked about the slides:

“We’re excited to bring these powertrains to our future vehicles as we continue on our path to premium. We know our fans will be yearning for additional details, however specific models, performance figures and market rollout will be disclosed at an appropriate time.”

'Path to premium', hey? is that Japan's take on Volkswagen's "premium for the people" catchphrase? Seems so.