A decade ago, as Mazda was introducing the second generation of its Mazda3 car, it also brought out a high-performance version. The Mazdaspeed3 no longer exists, of course, but it has not been forgotten. In recent years, rumours have even surfaced that it could make a comeback, though these have ebbed and flowed over time.
Right they’re flowing. While in 2018 Mazda had sought to snuff out any speculation about a new beefed-up Mazda3, claiming it was too small a company to take on this market segment, this year the story has changed. A Mazda executive has confirmed he is working hard to sell the idea of such a car.
"I'm a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high-performance Mazda3... I'll do my best."
- Kota Beppu, Mazda3 program manager, in interview with Autocar
The executive also hinted he wanted to give the model more zip by boosting the output of the engine, all while integrating in it a hybrid system. From this we can imagine engineers would drop the 2.5L 4-cylidner turbo engine in use elsewhere in the Mazda lineup under the hood of a new high-performance Mazda3. This unit can deliver up to 250 hp (depending on what level of octane fuel is fed into it) and maximum torque of 310 lb-ft.
There’s nothing to stop Mazda engineers from tweaking it to increase those numbers, of course. Another element that could be added is all-wheel drive, which didn’t exist in the company’s repertoire back in the day. The Mazdaspeed3 version of a decade ago suffered from terrible torque steer.
If a new high-performance Mazda3 were to see the light of day, it would likely not be a car focused exclusively on performance. The way Kota Beppu sees it, it would have to be daily-use-friendly as well.
Thus fans of the Mazda3 have reason to be hopeful, knowing that someone within the walls of Mazda HQ is pulling for a performance version to become reality.
What’s more, Autocar reports that testing of a prototype is currently underway at the automaker’s research and development centre in California, with the goal of seeing just how fat engineers can push things with a more muscular Mazda3. This might be even more telling than the words spoken by executive Beppu.
For now, patience is in order – lots of it. Before such a variant ever hits the market, there are a ton of steps that need to be taken, starting with an official green light from Mazda.