Mazda 3 MPS (2009): the spy photos

Published: 22 October 2008

Next year is shaping up to be a golden year for hot hatch lovers. We’ve just scooped the new Mazda 3 MPS on test in Germany – and it’ll face stiff competition from the likes of the new Ford Focus RS, Renaulsport Megane and sixth-generation VW Golf GTI.

Could the timing be worse to launch these high-performance, high-consumption models of profligacy? Probably not. But this latest batch of hot hatches was planned years before the credit crunch ripped through the global economy. Maybe they’ll serve as a reminder of times past…

Still, the new Mazda 3 MPS should still be of interest to enthusiasts. The outgoing model is one of the most powerful pocket rockets on the market – with 256bhp spinning its front wheels furiously thanks to a musclebound, turbocharged 2.3-litre four-pot lump. That engine will be reused in the new car.

The new Mazda 3 MPS: coming in 2009

The regular 3 hatchback won’t be seen until the 2008 Bologna motor show this winter, but Mazda has already unveiled the 3 saloon. The new 3 family rides on an evolution of the existing Ford Focus C1 technology modules, which means the new 3 will be front-wheel drive. Ford owns a third of Mazda, don’t forget.

The new 3 MPS will be launched at the 2009 Geneva motor show and it will follow the mechanical recipe of today’s car. That means similar performance stats: 155mph and 62mph in 6.1sec, making it one of the quickest cars, performance-per-pound, on sale.

Insiders say the market positioning of the new 3 MPS will be similar to today’s £18,995 hot hatch – but with added attitude. Our sources admit that Mazda got the current 3 wrong and it’s perceived as too dull. Hence the new car’s gaping grille, air intakes, sidesills and in-yer-face rear wing.

Expect to see the full, official story in spring 2009. And the 3 MPS will be in UK showrooms over the summer, probably ready in time for the new 59 number plate in September 2009.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet