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.