Mazda has just issued these first pictures of the new 3 MPS hot hatch and – at the other extreme – the new 3 i-stop green car model. These models will add sporting and eco credentials to the new 3 hatchback family at the 2009 Geneva motor show, where they are due to make their debut on 3 March 2009.
The company hasn't released many details about the new models, but we know the 3 MPS retains the chunky 2.3-litre four-pot DISI turbo engine and sends its punch through the front wheels. The press material is full of promises of 'Mazda's Zoom-Zoom spirit', but we can't help thinking the new MPS is going to continue where its predecessor
ended up: it'll be a slightly unruly, cut-price Focus RS rival for thousands less.
Today's Mazda 3 MPS
costs £18,601 and packs a 256bhp/280lb ft punch. No figures have been issued yet for the new 2009 MPS, but we hear outputs will be broadly similar while cleaning up emissions and meeting Euro 5 emissions regs. That spells a 0-60mph time of around 6.0sec and a rampant 155mph top speed. It's one of the fastest cars for the cash.Mazda 3 i-stop: the green eco hatchback
At the other extreme, Mazda has also announced its first production stop-start system. Dubbed i-stop, it'll be launhced initially on the latest MZR 2.0 direct-injection petrol engine to improve fuel consumption by 12%.
No prizes for guessing the i-stop's party trick; it cuts out the moment you roll to a stop and select neutral. Dab the clutch or throttle and it'll kickstart the engine in – a claimed – instant. Expect this technology to roll across the Mazda range in the coming years.
We've already scored an early drive of the Mazda 3 hatchback; click here
for CAR's road test review.>> Would you take a Mazda 3 MPS over a Focus RS or Renaultsport Megane? Click 'Add your comment' and sound off