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Mazda 3 MPS Released

Mazda 3 MPS (copyright image)

The Mazda 3 MPS competes at the low volume end of the 'hot hatch' segment with cars such as the highly desired Ford Focus XR5 Turbo and the UK built Honda Civic Type R. The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and Volkswagen Golf GTI are way ahead of the new Mazda 3 MPS in virtually all areas that count towards desirability, just as the price suggests.

Home > News > Mazda

22nd July, 2009

The design theme for the new Mazda 3 called on the development team to evolve the model’s visual identity to provide a sportier, more aggressive appearance. The end result is a design that takes the sporty, agile compact nature of the new Mazda 3 hatchback to another level of sporty refinement.

The new Mazda 3 MPS expresses next-generation Mazda design DNA that gives it a subtle aggressiveness and sets it apart in the small segment. It has a dynamic design with few protruding surfaces for a look of solid build quality. To achieve this effect, designers employed a centre-focus design at the front and back. For example, all lines at the front of the car focus on a centre point at the top of the five-point grille and a new, subtle 'character' line in the middle of the bonnet serves as a centre axis. The lines running from the A-pillars along the sides of the bonnet move inwards to the centre of the grille. The headlamp inner lines, front mudguard lines and the frame of the front grille all move inwards towards the centre as well. For a clean, well-built look there is a new windshield wiper arm design, washer nozzles sit inside the cowl and front window mouldings flow smoothly into the roof mouldings.

A new air intake for the intercooler is introduced to the centre of the new Mazda 3 MPS bonnet, hinting at the power beneath. The front quarter panel and front bumper designs are exclusive to the MPS, while subtle intonation added to the surface and character lines give the exterior an expressive and dynamic flair. The Mazda five-point grille and lower bumper sections share the same black metallic paint finish and are complemented by round fog lamps. On the Mazda 3 MPS Luxury cylindrical bi-xenon headlamps with 'boomerang' shaped accents further underscore its 'character'.

At the sides, subtle wedge-shaped and curving side character lines, along with a side skirt, accentuate the car’s sporty, low centre of gravity.

The view from the rear features a large floating rear spoiler that complements the car’s aggressive front end and adds to the car’s sporty image. LED tail lamps have an inner lens that adds a sense of greater transparency when the lamps are not lit. Like the front, the rear of the car focuses all components on the Mazda badge and has bold curves and a low centre of gravity. The rear end is a product of Mazda’s advanced panel stamping technology with a three-dimensionality that is powerful and strong.

The new Mazda 3 is more aerodynamic – reducing wind noise and fuel consumption. Repeated clay model development and wind tunnel tests brought improvements to every detail of aerodynamic performance before the final design was chosen.

In total, designers conducted 304 hours of wind tunnel testing over 34 days at Mazda’s Miyoshi Proving Ground. This revealed where the flow of air could be optimised while also minimising turbulence and eddies on each part of the body. The process involved day after day of intensive work as the clay models were shaped, refined and modified in millimetre increments.

Mazda designers concentrated on achieving the right balance of improved aerodynamic performance and a perfect design for the front. It was a process that involved repeated discussions and tests. Their hard work produced a fusion of form and function that gives new generation Mazda 3 MPS a fresh, distinctive front ‘face’ and achieves a drag coefficient of 0.32 (previously 0.34). From the front grille, with a projected area of 2.217m˛, to the roof, the under body and the rear end aerodynamic optimisation measures contribute to driving stability and low wind noise at high speed.

The grille opening is kept small – it's actually 70 per cent of the size of the combined openings on the first-generation Mazda 3 – to concentrate wind pressure, lessen the intake of air and drag, while directing unwanted air smoothly over the body. A new front bumper reinforcement flange ensures smooth air flow here. A new cooling fan speed flap prevents the fan from causing drag at high speed, while an air guide in the front bumper directs air straight to the radiator and cooling system where it’s needed. The front upper body corners direct air smoothly along the upper side body and a special A-pillar design prevents air flow separation and the turbulence associated with it.

At the back of the new Mazda 3 MPS, the rear lamps are shaped to reduce turbulence. To keep air flow smooth and turbulence at a minimum under the car, new front tyre deflectors are introduced (similar to the horseshoe deflectors first seen on Mazda 6).

Beginning with the new generation Mazda 3 five-door hatchback, which has one of the segment’s lowest coefficients of drag, MPS developers added a number of exterior features optimised for aerodynamic efficiency.

These include the large front and rear bumpers, a large floating rear roof spoiler and front under-spoiler. The result is aerodynamic performance that provides stability and easy control when travelling straight, changing lanes, or overtaking other vehicles at high speeds. The shape of the A-pillars and door mirrors were also designed keeping aerodynamic efficiency in mind, while increased rigidity around the door sashes delivers improved sealing of the doors to reduce wind noise.

Mazda introduces new 18-inch (18 x 7.5J) aluminium alloy wheels designed exclusively for the Mazda 3 MPS using the same rotary design theme as the Mazda RX-8 wheels. These have a strong, three dimensional form that helps the car look nimble and aggressive when seen from the side.

When seated inside the new generation Mazda 3 MPS there is no doubt that this really is a driver’s car offering an increased level of refinement and comfort. Every interior detail embodies an optimal balance between aesthetics and function for a clean, uncluttered look. The quality feel of each part has been improved, high quality materials used and interactive lighting introduced to provide an interior that is great to be in and use on a daily basis.

The dashboard of the new generation Mazda 3 MPS is designed to give a roomy feel at the front. This is combined with a large centre console and a driver-orientated, wrap-around cockpit with just the right feeling of snugness. Exacting calculation was applied to designing the slant of the centre console and in positioning the gearshift lever closer to the driver.

When seen from the side the dashboard sweeps from the base of the windshield and then down for a distinctive concave shape. The floor console between the seats rises up to meet the centre panel in a smooth, convex shape. Together, this forms a ‘sweeping S’ design that is unique and dynamic. The dashboard adopts a single hood design that begins on the far left edge of the centre console and sweeps in a wide arch up and over to the outer side of the driver cluster for a quality and sporty look.

The hoodless independent blackout speedometer and tachometer express sportiness through their design. The tachometer features a red MPS logo and a needle that travels 260 degrees as opposed to the 190-degree rotation on other Mazda 3 models. The instrument cluster for the new generation Mazda 3 MPS also includes an LED turbo boost gauge positioned between the meters which heightens the car’s high performance feel.

The new Mazda 3 MPS provides semi-bucket front seats for a great fit and exceptional torso and thigh support, a real must for a performance vehicle. The MPS upholstery features an exclusive black base colour with a red graphic design and red stitching.

The Mazda 3 MPS development team was careful in selecting materials and surface finishes for the interior to ensure they will excite the driver and passengers every time they enter the car. Black is the keynote colour employed throughout the interior, while the seats and trim fabric have an organic red graphic design. This exclusive MPS design is seen throughout, with red stitching enhancing the sporty interior character on the steering wheel, seats, door trim, shift lever boot and centre armrest.

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Based on the new Mazda 3 but with further modifications, the new Mazda 3 MPS adopts chassis systems designed to deliver agile handling, superior roll control and a flat ride that is comfortable and predictable. The new model’s rigid body shell and optimised suspension with electro-hydraulic power assist steering get the most out of the car’s compact dimensions and lively engine to deliver optimal one-with-the-car driving feel. Overall, the new Mazda 3 MPS perpetuates the light weight strategy that characterises Mazda engineering.

The new Mazda 3 MPS body shell has been strengthened in precisely the locations subjected to the most stress, to ensure handling befitting of a new generation Mazda compact as sporty as this.

The joints of the header junction are strengthened by two rows of vertical spot welds. A large corner radius is adopted for the door openings and a new roof gusset is employed between the roof and the B-pillar. The body seals for the wheel arches and the front hinge pillars are now weld-bonded for extra rigidity and an increased number of spot welds and weld-bonding is used on the door openings. A strut bar is introduced between the cowl member and the front suspension towers for additional strength.

The C/D-pillars and the rear end and header use a robust, closed-section structure for excellent stiffness. A brace bar is introduced to the rear suspension towers, the number of spot welds on the tailgate opening increased and a large corner radius is used. With these body shell measures, along with an increased use of high and ultra-high-strength steel throughout, the new Mazda 3 has extremely rigid structures with little deformation even at the wide opening of the hatchback’s tailgate. Diagonal displacement around the tailgate area has been improved by 48% while diagonal displacement of the rear suspension has been improved by 11%. Based on the rigid body of the Mazda 3 five-door hatchback, the new Mazda 3 MPS adds reinforcements inside the front cowl member gussets to strengthen the joints between the rear suspension towers and rear floorboard, and employs a large tunnel member. These and other local reinforcements effectively increase body rigidity and greatly improve the new model’s dynamic robustness.

Attached to this rigid body is a MacPherson strut front suspension and Mazda’s multi-link rear suspension. These ensure agile response to steering input, superior roll control and a predictable, comfortable ride. At the front axle, the new Mazda 3 delivers superior roll control with a stabiliser mounting span increased by 20 mm. A stronger cross member tower is introduced that is made of stamped metal, the structure here was changed to make the cross-arm thicker and the cross member bushings were optimised to deliver excellent lateral rigidity. The multi-link rear suspension has a centre member with a new shape that contributes to lateral strength and good road holding. Like the front suspension, the mounting span of the rear stabilisers are larger, which improves roll control.

The coil spring rates for both the MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension are modified exclusively for the MPS with the rear having been made firmer and the front softer resulting in improved control during cornering. Special tuning to support the power of the MPS and provide satisfying driving performance also includes the introduction of larger diameter stabilisers than on the naturally aspirated new Mazda 3 and an increased span for the stabiliser mounts to achieve greater roll linearity. Special dampers for the MPS increase damping strength and combine with the coil springs and stabilisers to achieve higher roll stiffness than on the naturally aspirated Mazda 3 models.

The Dunlop 225/40R18 tyres adopted for the MPS are wider than on the previous model while grip has been improved. By improving the grip of the tyres, the rigidity of their sidewalls and damping strength – along with the systems that bear the input from the tyres, including body rigidity, suspension rigidity, and steering support rigidity – the new Mazda 3 MPS delivers response with a more direct feel, and a stronger sense of oneness between the driver and car.

The result is a sporty drive that is, thankfully, more refined than on the previous model, even at high speeds. It delivers better response, greater stability and a flatter ride with fewer undulations, even when entering sharp curves or traversing uneven road surfaces. As part of the process to ensure this, extensive high-speed test drives were conducted at Germany’s famed Nürburgring.

The new Mazda 3 MPS now employs three highly rigid steering gear mount bushings instead of the two used on the previous model. Increasing the number of steering gear mount bushes provides an optimal balance between rigidity feel and low vibration. The steering gear bushes also have a softer setting in the straight-ahead position, which does away with unwanted vibrations to the steering wheel. And finally, a larger gear cylinder diameter is used to ensure excellent power assist function when you need it. The system also features electro-hydraulic power assisted steering (EHPAS), which adjusts control in accordance with vehicle speed and steering angle to realise precise, solid response for an outstanding feel to steering wheel operation. Control is set for more accurate response to vehicle speed, providing a lighter feeling at slower speeds and a firmer, confidence-inspiring feeling at higher speeds. Steering is direct and sharp at just 2.7 turns from lock to lock.

Large diameter 320 mm ventilated disc brakes in the front and 280 mm solid discs in the rear combine with an eight- and nine-inch tandem brake booster and one-inch large diameter master cylinder to realise powerful and stable braking. ABS, EBA, EBD and DSC with Traction Control are all standard equipment on the Mazda 3 MPS.

The new Mazda 3 follows in the footsteps of the second-generation Mazda 2 and Mazda 6, by being larger, better equipped and more fuel efficient.

Mazda’s weight management programme lowered the weight of as many components of the new Mazda 3 as possible. And the body shell employs increased amounts of high tensile and ultra-high-tensile steels that are light with superior crash resistance. As a result, the Australian version of the new Mazda 3's 'body-in-white' is lighter than its predecessor, thanks to the following weight reduction measures:
• Increasing the percentage of the high-tensile steel (-11 kg)
• Change to twin-beam construction for instrument panel (-2.0 kg)
• Optimisation of rear suspension shape and elimination of centre stiffener (-0.7 kg)
• Gramme by gramme weight reduction for all components and systems (-1.3 kg)

Like many small cars, the Mazda 3 provided comfort, space and practicality on the inside. The new Mazda 3 MPS continues this and more: there are new seats for better comfort on longer trips, plenty of small-item storage, an evolved Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and a host of new equipment.

Furthermore, the new Mazda 3 MPS is quieter than ever before. To match its sporty nature and design, the new Mazda 3 MPS has a driver’s environment with a strong sense of being one with the car. A zone layout cockpit design, with an evolved HMI was developed to achieve this.

After carefully studying the eyes of a driver looking at the road while driving, Mazda designers positioned information displays in zones where they can be seen with the least effort. For an intuitive feel while driving, they also placed all vehicle controls in a single narrow zone, stretching from the outside rim of the steering wheel to the gearshift knob.

The new car also has a highly evolved HMI system that makes it easy to use the car’s systems from the driver’s seat without taking your eyes off the road. A new top-mounted display is introduced that is positioned 100 mm higher, just to the left of the steering wheel.

Under its single hood is a new dash-mounted Multi-Information Display (MID) that is operated by a handy MID selector switch on the steering wheel. Audio functions are operated by using the control panel buttons on the left side of the steering wheel, while other vehicle systems are controlled by new multi-functional dials on the centre panel.

A new MID is introduced with the new Mazda 3 MPS that shows all essential information in one location at the touch of a button on the steering wheel. This function now includes:
• 4.1-inch colour thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT–LCD)
• Integrated Satellite Navigation controlled through steering wheel mounted controls
• Bluetooth® hands-free compatibility
• New MID switch on the right of steering wheel allows switching between displays without the driver taking their hands from the wheel
• Trip computer readout shows current fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, distance-to-empty, average vehicle speed and speed alert
• Audio system information
• Maintenance monitor

New Mazda 3 MPS comes standard with a new satellite navigation system developed especially for the Mazda 3. It uses a high-resolution 11 cm (4.1-inch) colour screen mounted in the MID’s upper section, where it can be seen easily, and is operated using control switches on the steering wheel. The system’s navigational information comes from compact SD cards, and it was optimised using Mazda HMI techniques to be as easy to use as it is to view.

The collaboration between Bose® and Mazda continues on the Mazda 3 MPS Luxury with a Premium Bose® Audio System which provides a five-channel surround sound experience.

Bose Centerpoint® reliably translates two-channel stereo signals from CDs as they play into five channels using ten speakers in all, to place passengers in the centre of the music. Bose® digital amplifier technology delivers sharp sound, even at low volume, and distortion-free sound at high volume, and a noise compensation system called AudioPilot2® automatically compensates for road noise while driving.

Driving a Mazda 3 has never been more comfortable with newly designed sports bucket seats designed to provide optimum support and comfort. A driver’s seat with 8-way power adjustment with 3-position memory function makes it easy to find the perfect driving position and to take full advantage of the high position of the floor console’s armrest. A new location of the gear shift knob, closer to the driver, allows shifting without having to lift the arm from the armrest. And the distance to put the shift hand on the steering wheel is now shorter because the gear shift lever is 60 mm higher and slanted towards the driver.

Even the pedals were redesigned to make driving smoother and easier. The accelerator pedal now has 15 mm more space to operate in and the brake pedal arm and the brake pedal pad are optimised. Together, this makes moving an average to large sized foot from the accelerator to the brake smooth and unimpeded.

The new Mazda 3 MPS has a new interior lighting system that provides a welcoming, friendly environment when entering the car. When the car is unlocked, an Illuminated Entry System activates, with a cockpit spotlight and room lamp fading in to illuminate the interior, making entry easy.

Onboard is an Action Illumination system that causes the audio and air conditioning controls to react intuitively to touch. For instance, for the air conditioning system, the temperature setting has lighting that shines red when raising the temperature and blue when lowering it.

The new Mazda 3 MPS now has dual-zone climate control air conditioning and heating that is one of the segments quietest and most efficient. To achieve this, the heat exchanger was increased in size by 20 per cent, compressor capacity raised from 120 cc to 180 cc, and airflow increased to 500mł/h.

The new Mazda 3 MPS is made to match the Australian lifestyle, and that means plenty of clever storage spaces and cup holders. Beneath the centre sliding armrest is a large storage box with a capacity of 4.9 litres, the AUX-in jack and an additional power supply. Between this and the gear shift lever is a double cup holder and a storage box with lid (for a mobile phone, MP3 player, etc). To the right of the driver is a coin holder, a sunglass holder above the internal rear view mirror and a new glove box that holds up to 9.7 litres.

There are cup holders in each door pocket, front and back, a seatback pocket for holding maps or books, and two cup holders in the pop-down rear seat armrest. Behind the rear seats, 300 litres (268 with Bose system) of load capacity is offered. Of course, the rear seats can be folded down 60/40 to provide a load area for large item transport.


Mazda3 MPS Hatch (manual) $39,690
Mazda3 MPS Luxury Hatch (manual) $43,290
Prices exclude dealer delivery and state/territory statutory charges
Consult a Mazda dealer for a "drive away" price.


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