The new Mazda3 is good, especially in all-wheel drive guise. As compact sedans and hatchbacks go, Mazda has built a good one. The small Japanese company has all of the parts in its bins to build a seriously powerful and performance oriented model. Not only do I think it make an AWD turbocharged adult hot hatch, but the company already has the idea on its radar, according to a report by Autocar. The stuff is all there in the factory just waiting to be assembled. It’s time for the return of Mazdaspeed.
Autocar says that during the launch of the fourth-generation Mazda3 in the Australian market, Mazda brought over program manager Kota Beppu to address the assembled press. In the course of that press event, Beppu mentioned that he wants to see a “hyper” version of the attractive small hatchback. “I’m a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high performance Mazda 3… I’ll do my best,” he reportedly said.
As recently as November of last year we reported that we shouldn’t expect a new ‘Speed3, but I have to admit that Kota Beppu’s reported statements have me feeling a little hot under the collar about the prospects of Mazda hatch performance.
While Autocar extrapolates that to mean a Volkswagen GTI fighter, I place more emphasis on hyper and hope they set sights on the Golf R at least. Don’t be afraid to dream big.
The last Mazdaspeed3 was available in 2013 and it made 263 front-driven horsepower from a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. The current 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G Turbo engine found in the CX-9 and CX-5 Turbo models makes 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. A second generation SkyActiv-G engine is said to be on the horizon, delivering even higher compression and more boost for 2020. Perhaps Mazda is aiming for a hot version of this engine to see use in this hot version of the 3.
Much as the Mazdaspeed6 was a more adult alternative to a Subaru WRX STi or Mitsubishi Evo of its day, this potential Mazdaspeed3 could be a Golf R and Focus RS competitor with horn rim glasses and a button down. The aim for this project is apparently to be more refined and sophisticated than either, so it won’t be a track toy, more a fast and comfortable street daily.
Hell, give it 300 horsepower to match the AWD system, sell it in both hatch and sedan variants, and price it under $40,000, and you’ve got a much less expensive Mercedes-AMG CLA35 fighter.
Beppu says there is demand within the Australian, European, and U.S. markets for such a car, but ultimately it will come down to how easy it is to fit this hot 3 within the new European emissions regulations. The U.S. demand has been corroborated by Car and Driver which says “Mazda sources have told us that they are listening closely for enthusiasts to ask for the car. If the crowd roars loud enough, there’s a very strong possibility that a new Mazdaspeed 3 will appear relatively soon. Here’s your chance. Let Mazda hear from you.” The poll at the bottom of that report is currently sitting at 99% in favor of Mazda building a hot 3.
Mazda could really have something here. I hope it comes to fruition.