Mazda 3 MPS


www.nextcar.com.au (copyright image)
Our Editor, Stephen Walker, expects the 3 MPS will expand
the 'hot hatch' market because the class-leading Volkswagen
Golf GTI is so good it's sales won't be effected by this newcomer.

6th July, 2006

With 190 kilowatts and 380 Newton meters of torque, the Mazda 3 MPS is ready to battle for a share of hot hatch market, which is lead by the brilliant Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Powered by a direct injected engine, the 2.3-litre DISI turbocharged Mazda 3 MPS is the second Mazda to wear the Mazda Performance Series badge and becomes the fourth member of Mazda’s performance line-up.

The front-drive Mazda 3 MPS joins the all-wheel-drive Mazda 6 MPS, the rear-drive rotary-powered RX-8 and Mazda’s MX-5 roadster.

Priced from $39,990 the six-speed manual Mazda 3 MPS can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, making it the fastest car in Mazda’s range.

Standard equipment is generous and includes Dynamic Stability Control, six airbags, cruise control, climate control air conditioning, front fog lamps, 18 inch alloy wheels and tyres, power windows and mirrors, wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, reach and rake adjustable steering, remote central locking, alloy pedals, an MP3 compatible six-disc CD player, ambient temperature display and a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob.

A Sports Pack model priced at $43,690, which will make up 30 per cent of the 130 Mazda 3 MPS monthly sales target, gains a seven speaker 222W Bose sound system, Xenon headlamps, half leather trim and high-gloss finished alloy wheels.

The Mazda 3 MPS has been designed and engineered to deliver the following attributes:

Driving Fun: Formidable performance from the MZR 2.3 litre DISI turbo engine, along with sharply responsive handling achieved by capitalising on the characteristics of the compact, lightweight body.

Ownership Delight: Exterior styling that gives an immediate impression of driving fun, and an interior with a quality feel.

Everyday, User-Friendly Convenience: An exceptional balance of driving pleasure with everyday functionality and comfort.

The flagship of the Mazda 3 range features a stylishly sophisticated look combined with performance levels that make it one of the fastest front-drive cars sold today. Mazda 3 MPS offers truly exhilarating acceleration from a standing start and superior passing acceleration in the practical speed range.

Unlike the all-wheel-drive Mazda 6 MPS the new Mazda 3 MPS uses its FWD layout to maximise the inherent agile handling characteristics of its lightweight and compact body. In addition, the FWD configuration permitted more affordable pricing, giving Mazda the opportunity to spread Zoom-Zoom to a wider audience in an extremely fun-to-drive package.

Mazda 3 MPS styling pursues a look of strength and solidity in a design that conveys the car's unmatched dynamic performance.

Its form is characterised by boldly flared front guards (up 20mm on the standard hatch) and effective use of strong crease lines on the bonnet. These combine with the functional forms of the bumpers, spoilers, side skirts and other parts to make a radical Zoom-Zoom statement in a FWD hatch.

Overall, Mazda 3 MPS’s design is sporty and strong, without exaggerated styling cues. This approach is an important facet of MPS design DNA, also adopted for the Mazda 6 MPS.

The Mazda 3 MPS engine develops 190 kW at 5,500 rpm and 380 Nm at 3,000 rpm, while returning 10.0 L/100 km on the Australian ADR 81/01 fuel cycle.

To handle the car’s output, torque characteristics are carefully controlled to improve driveability.

The body, suspension and brakes are specially tuned as part of the vehicle’s all-round optimisation. The result is agile handling that deliver high levels of driving pleasure.

To maximise traction and eliminate torque steer the Mazda 3 MPS employs boost pressure control to suppress sudden torque peaks, assuring smooth, linear torque delivery.

Additionally, torque characteristics in first and second gears are optimised to deliver appropriate power from take off.

Torque control is also linked to steering angle and activates in first or second gears during tight cornering. Other anti-torque steer measures include matching the stiffness and optimising the angles of the left and right drive shafts.

To further boost traction the Mazda 3 MPS comes with a newly developed torque sensing limited slip differential, which provides ample pulling power to the inner wheel during hard cornering. It is similar to the LSDs used in the RX-8 and MX-5.

Body rigidity has been increased with the standard Mazda 3 hatch body gaining a reinforced front cowl member assuring the same rigidity as a car fitted with strut tower bars. This prevents deformation of the front suspension towers and maintains correct suspension geometry.

In the lower body, a large closed section member is employed to reinforce the floor tunnel which improves the torsional rigidity of the whole body.

At the rear, the gusset introduced at the bottom end of the rear suspension towers restrains the tendency of the towers to displace inwards which maintains the correct suspension geometry in the rear.

Special suspension tuning was conducted to support the high power output of Mazda 3 MPS’s engine. Both the MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension have higher coil spring rates and larger diameter stabiliser bars than the Mazda 3 face-lifted models. Dampers also have a higher damping force on the Mazda 3 MPS. This produces 60 percent more roll stiffness than the new Mazda 3.

Stopping power is provided by large diameter four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated 320 mm discs at front and solid 280 mm discs at rear. They are controlled by an ABS system that includes electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist.

For protection during a collision from any direction, Mazda 3 MPS employs the unique Mazda Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System to deliver a robust and safe body structure.

Inside the cabin, dual front airbags are fitted as standard, along with side and curtain airbags. A collapsible brake pedal and revised steering column structure reduce the risk of injury to the driver's lower legs, while a seat belt reminder system, which confirms whether seatbelts are buckled or not, is also included to boost the safety of the front and rear occupants.

The Mazda 3 MPS is protected by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty and like the RX-8, MX-5 and Mazda 6 MPS also comes with 24 hour roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty and an advanced driver training course.


Mazda 3 MPS: $39,990

Mazda 3 MPS Sports Pack: $43,690


A Subtle Display of Sportiness

  • Larger air intake for optimal fresh air supply to engine
  • Larger front wheel wells and 18-inch wheels
  • Unique rear bumper design with 95 mm tail pipe

As with the Mazda 6 MPS, exterior designers of the Mazda 3 MPS worked to communicate the car’s character with a design that is stylish and sporty, yet subtle. While the car remains true to the basic form of the base model, there is a clear emphasis on the car’s sporty nature via larger front guards and stronger press lines on the bonnet and on other areas of the exterior.

The aerodynamically optimised front bumper and the larger lower air intake opening with a honeycomb pattern ensure plenty of fresh air to the radiator. The car’s air-to-air intercooler is mounted horizontally on top of the engine and pulls fresh air through the characteristic Mazda five-point grille. Deep crease lines cross the bonnet in the direction of the A-pillar to emphasise the length of the car’s front end. Rectangular shaped “floating image” front fog lights underscore the individualistic MPS exterior design even further.

Side skirts give the Mazda 3 MPS a low stance and lend a strong road presence. Under the 20 mm wider front guards and the rear guards (unchanged vs. other Mazda 3s) are 7 x 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels in a 10-spoke design with 215/45 R18 tyres.

The rear end of the car also expresses the extra power under the bonnet. It has a specially designed, partially matt coloured rear bumper, a tail pipe with a 95 mm diameter tip and a large roof spoiler with integrated LED brake light.

Mazda offers the Mazda3 MPS in four exterior colours. Besides True Red, Black Mica and Aurora Blue, there is a unique to MPS Cosmic Blue.


Synthesis of Functionality and Comfort

  • Red stitching and decorative striping for typical MPS flair
  • Aluminium pedals
  • New seats provide added support

Mazda 3 MPS’s cockpit is a harmonious synthesis of functional sportiness and stylish comfort. The interior’s basic black colour is contrasted with red stitching in the seams of the half-leather seats (standard on the Sports Pack), on the leather steering wheel rim and on the shift knob for an interior ambience that is typical Mazda MPS. A decorative insert panel, with a hairline treatment and a brushed surface feel, further emphasises the car’s sporty, yet refined feel.

Besides its leather shift knob, other sporty accents in the interior include high-grip aluminium pedals, stainless steel scuff plates, and semi-bucket sports seats with an MPS logo on the seatbacks. The seats offer more side and shoulder support than the standard Mazda 3 seat.

The speedometer is in the middle of the meter cluster and is scaled to 280 km/h and, like the tachometer, its numbers illuminate once the car has been started.

Comfort and Functionality

The Mazda 3 MPS comes fully equipped with both the standard Mazda 3 MPS and the Sports Pack model boasting climate control air conditioning, cruise control, reach and rake adjustable steering, steering wheel mounted audio controls, power windows and mirrors, an immobiliser system, remote central locking and audible and visual seatbelt warning for both front and rear passengers.

The Sports Pack models get a Bose sound system and half leather trim as well as Xenon headlamps and high-gloss finish alloy wheels.

The Bose sound system offers 222W and seven speakers including a subwoofer.

The non Sport Pack model gets six speakers and both models come with an MP3 compatible CD player with six-disc in dash system, AM/FM digital tuner and an auxiliary input and an additional 12 volt power outlet in the centre armrest console. The input is compatible with an Apple iPod.


An Engine with Power to Spare

  • Petrol direct-injection and turbocharging
  • Three-shaft, six-speed manual transmission

Petrol direct-injection and turbocharging are the primary sources of power for the 2.3-litre four cylinder from the MZR family of engines. Mazda has already installed the engine in the Mazda 6 MPS and a derivative of it in the new sporty crossover SUV, Mazda CX-7 in North America and the new MPV in Japan.

In the Mazda 3 MPS the engine is rated at 190 kilowatts at 5,500 rpm, and its maximum torque of 380 Nm arrives at a low 3,000rpm. An electronic throttle and electronic boost pressure control ensure acceleration without turbo lag and lively pedal response. As a result, the Mazda 3 MPS accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in only 6.1 seconds. With an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h, it is one of the fastest front-drive production cars on the planet.

The MZR 2.3 DISI turbo engine injects petrol under high pressure of 115 bar directly into the combustion chamber causing latent heat evaporation and a desirable cooling effect, which has positive advantages for volumetric efficiency in the combustion chamber. The result: at an engine speed of 3,000 rpm, the direct-injection engine produces 10 per cent more torque than a manifold injection engine. This cooling effect also causes a linear increase in the rotation speed of the turbocharger’s compressor blades, which makes boost available at engine speeds as low as 2,500rpm. The result of this extremely powerful engine tuning – the Mazda3 MPS accelerates from 50 to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds (in 3rd gear).

Direct-injection allows a homogenous fuel/air mixture around the spark plugs, effectively retarding misfire. Ignition timing can then be retarded, which helps raise exhaust-gas temperatures. The engine’s lightweight, single-scroll turbocharger also contributes to this by limiting heat loss in the exhaust system. As a consequence, the catalytic converter heats up quickly – producing fewer emissions.

Because the internal cooling effect inhibits engine knock and lowers fuel consumption at the same time, engineers were able to employ a relative high compression ratio of 9.5:1 for the Mazda DISI engine.

This high compression ratio contributes to the car’s frugal use of fuel of 10.0L/100km (ADR 81/01) and to linear acceleration attributes with almost no turbo lag.

The Mazda 3 MPS team also tuned the exhaust note to increase the driving enjoyment of the car even further. Its throaty pitch under acceleration from a standing start is music to ears of driving enthusiasts. Once the engine speed climbs above 4,000 rpm the engine sound changes to the mid-frequency range to further underscore the car’s sportiness.

Sophisticated Torque Management
Mazda 3 MPS employs a number of sophisticated features to ensure the prodigious power and torque gets to the road with the minimum of fuss.

Usually, a car’s transmission will convey engine torque vibration to the steering wheel under hard acceleration or when taking a curve with a large steering angle. To either completely eliminate or drastically reduce this so-called “torque steering,” Mazda engineers gave the car’s drive shafts the same stiffness.

In addition, torque steering under full load in first and second gears is electronically controlled – by modifying the throttle valve position and employing boost pressure control via the wastegate of the turbocharger. This ensures that engine torque is applied smoothly, rather than suddenly, and that torque increases only to a certain level. In addition, when using first or second gears in very tight corners when large steering inputs are required (detected by a steering angle sensor) the system will again control the throttle valve, limiting excessive torque delivery.

To inhibit front wheel spin during heavy acceleration in first gear, engineers inhibited an extreme power surge via the throttle valves and the waste-gate valve of the turbocharger.

And the standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), which incorporates traction control and can be switched off, also intervenes into the engine management system by monitoring different speeds of the front and rear wheels.

Short and Precise – the Six-speed Manual Transmission
A six-speed manual gearbox makes driving the Mazda 3 MPS fun. Using a compact three-shaft design, it is roughly the same size as the five-speed manual of the standard Mazda 3 and, due to wider gear ratios, allows maximum utilisation of the car’s engine performance. Triple-cone synchronizers for the first three gears, along with double-cone synchronisers for fourth gear, ensure precise and clean shift characteristics and low-effort shifting through clearly defined shift travel.

Limited Slip Differential
To further boost traction the Mazda 3 MPS comes with a newly-developed torque sensing limited slip differential that is similar in its design and operation to that used in the RX-8 and MX-5. The mechanical LSD, which has a torque split of 66:34, provides ample pulling power to the inner wheel during hard cornering and benefits traction under hard acceleration.

Chassis and Safety

Even More Torsional Stiffness

  • Local reinforcements of the floor assembly and chassis deemed necessary
  • Roll reduced by 60 percent

The Mazda 3 MPS body style is based on the five-door hatchback of the standard Mazda 3. Local reinforcements in the area of the floor assembly and the body are introduced to handle the much higher load from the engine. These measures include a front cowl member joined directly to the top section of the front damper mount. The component used here has the same effect as a front suspension cross-brace. Furthermore, a new cross member is introduced to the area of the middle tunnel, which increases the torsional rigidity of the entire body structure. At the rear axle, a gusset is mounted to the bottom end of the dampers, which also helps reduce the tendency of the dampers to displace inwards and ensures the correct suspension geometry in all driving conditions.

Besides reinforcing the body structure, engineers also gave the Mazda 3 MPS a more sporty suspension tune, without degrading ride comfort. Both the MacPherson front suspension and the multi-link rear suspension have higher spring rates, larger stabiliser bars and higher-performance dampers with up to six times more damping force, depending on damper piston speed. The sum of these measures results in a 60 percent increase in roll stiffness.

Comparison of Suspension Specifications:
  Mazda 3 MPS Mazda 3
Coil spring rates (front/rear) 33 / 30 N/mm 23 / 23 N/mm
Stabiliser diameter (front/rear) 26 / 25 mm 21 / 20 mm
Roll stiffness: 2.18 degrees/G 3.47 degrees/G

Brake Size Increased

Engineers also upgraded the brakes to match the car’s increase in power. Mazda 3 MPS’s front disc brakes are 320 mm in diameter and are ventilated, while the rear brakes are 280 mm in diameter. An 8-9 inch tandem booster, along with a larger master cylinder, four-channel ABS, electronic brake distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist all contribute to effective braking performance.

Dynamic stability control (DSC), which helps correct unwanted under or oversteer is standard.

Sport Pack models come with low beam Xenon headlamps. Complete with self levellers and headlight washers.

Seat Belt Reminder for all Seats

For protection during collision from any direction, Mazda3 MPS employs the unique Mazda Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System to deliver a robust and safe body structure. Inside the cabin, front dual airbags are fitted as standard, along with side and curtain airbags.

Also featured is a collapsible brake pedal and a modified steering column design, both of which help reduce injuries to the lower body. A seat belt reminder system, with both acoustic and optical warning, lets everyone in the car know if someone in the front or back seats is not buckled up.

www.nextcar.com.au (copyright image)

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