A turbocharged Mazda 3 hot hatch is coming, but before you rush off to your nearest dealership, there is a sizeable catch you should be probably be made aware of.
Reports surfaced this week claiming Mazda will be the latest manufacturer to enter the TCR race series with its new-generation 3 hatch.
It means Mazda needs to comply with that series' regulations, which demand brands enter a front-wheel-drive hatchback or sedan, powered by turbocharged engines with a capacity of up to 2.0 litres. The engines can be diesel or petrol.
While Mazda doesn't actually have a ready-made turbocharged 2.0-litre engine in its lineup, TCR Series founder Marcello Lotti told local media the brand could adapt an engine from elsewhere in its lineup, or even use a production turbocharger from another brand.
“They can use an engine selected from their group,” he told Australian outlet Auto Action. “They can choose another engine from inside of the group.
“You also have to choose a turbocharger from production, another brand if you want. I know some brands use the Mercedes MK turbo because it is from a production car, but also a nice turbo.”
While a TCR series launched in Australia this year, it is thought the charge is being led by Mazda in America, with the brand's local arm not thought to be involved.
What the local executive team is involved in, however, is a broader push for an MPS-style Mazda 3 hot hatch to make it into production.
And it seems the brand's Japanese HQ is listening, with the Mazda 3's program manager, Kota Beppu, confining he too wants a go-fast version of the brand's best-selling model to make it to production.
“I’m a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high performance Mazda 3. I’ll do my best,” Beppu said at the Mazda 3's launch.
“Mazda 3 is a light vehicle, so if there is too much power, and we keep it as front-wheel drive, there is the torque steer phenomenon happening.”
By using the brand’s turbocharged 2.5-litre engine from the CX-5, a Mazda 3 MPS would unlock around 170kW and 420Nm - and that’s before any performance tuning took place.
Those outputs would aim a Mazda 3 hot hatch right at the VW GTI, which makes 180kW and 370Nm, and place it in the i30 N ballpark, with the Hyundai hot hatch good for 202kW and 353Nm.
Alternatively, a turbocharger fitted to the range's existing 2.0-litre engine (currently good for 114kW and 200Nm) would fit the bill nicely, too.
The idea of a Mazda 3 hot hatch remains tempting for the brand in Australia, with the local arm saying that, if such a model was to become available, it would be a sure starter for Australia.
“Of course we’d be open to exploring it,” Mazda's PR chief Sonia Singh told CarsGuide.
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