FLYING THE FLAG as the sole remaining MPS model in Australia, the new Mazda3 MPS takes the formula established by its predecessor but with a few added tweaks to improve the driving experience.
Mazda?s engineers have left the engine and its outputs relatively untouched, instead focusing on developing the chassis for a sharper drive. However torque delivery and fuel economy have also been improved.
The new contender is powered by a revised version of the outgoing model's MZR 2.3 litre DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) engine, which uses direct injection and turbocharging to generate 190kW @ 5500rpm and 380Nm of torque @ 3000rpm.
The 0-100km/h run is done away with in a brisk 6.1 seconds, with top speed a heady 250km/h.
Mazda's clever boost-control system has been further evolved for the new generation MPS, with the torque curve being carefully modulated to improve power delivery and acceleration.
The 3's six-speed manual has been upgraded too, with low-viscosity oil and triple-cone synchros on the first three gears improving shift feel.
Gear ratios have also been spaced out more, allowing drivers to make better use of the blown four-pot's wide torque band.
Two versions of the MPS are available, with the standard MPS starting from $39,690.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry and start, dual zone climate control, six-disc CD changer, 4.1 inch colour display for audio and navigation plus eight-way power adjustable drivers seat with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever.
Also available is a Luxury version, starting from $43,290, which adds bi-xenon headlamps with Adaptive Front-lighting System and auto on/off. Rain sensing wipers and a ten-speaker Bose audio system with subwoofer are also part of the package.
Outside, the MPS wears 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/40 Dunlop tyres, fog lamps, LED tail lamps, indicator repeaters in the mirrors, and a unique styling package incorporating a rear spoiler, unique bumpers and sills, plus an integrated bonnet scoop to feed fresh air into the intercooler.
The 3's body has been reinforced in several key areas for the MPS, with the centre tunnel and cowl member getting added gussets to increase rigidity.
Swaybars are now thicker, bushings harder and spring and damper rates stiffer, making the 2009 Mazda3 MPS an even sharper steer than before.
Big 320mm brake rotors on the front and 280mm discs on the rear haul the MPS up in a hurry, while electronic brake assist is now standard
To increase the Mazda3 MPS's touring range, average fuel economy has dropped to 9.9l/100km while fuel tank capacity grows to 60 litres.