Mazda has finally given the 3 hatchback a turbo engine, a more aggressive body, and a track-ready suspension – but it's reserved for TCR racers only. Boo!
That's right, the latest 3 has been given a racy makeover for the fast-growing TCR race series, meaning we could see Mazda's compact hatch rubbing panels with race versions of the Hyundai i30, Audi RS3, Honda Civic Type R, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
TCR regulations force manufacturers to run with a production-based 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine outputting around 260kW. Power is put to the front wheels through a six-speed sequential or dual-clutch transmission.
Mazda doesn't offer a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in its line-up. Although the upcoming SkyActiv-X petrol engine will displace 2.0-litres, it's turbocharged and supercharged (and has a distinct focus on efficiency) while the 6, CX-5 and CX-9 all use a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-pot petrol engine in their top-spec models.
With that in mind, it's unclear where Mazda has sourced the 2.0-litre engine in the 3 TCR. The company hasn't mentioned where the engine comes from, but says the car is built by Long Road Racing, which also creates the MX-5 Cup car.
Previous reports have suggested a hotted-up Mazda 3 could utilise a variant of the aforementioned 2.5-litre engine, while Mazda itself has confirmed it's interested in tapping into the fast-growing hot hatch market.
“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,” Mazda Australia marketing director, Alastair Doak, told CarAdvice.
“Obviously we won’t be doing anything to discourage him from that..."
Mazda Australia issued the following statement about the TCR locally: "The vehicle is available for Australian teams to purchase (from North America) however Mazda Australia has nothing to announce regarding fielding a team in the local series."