Despite repeated denials by Mazda, about a year ago we predicted that the company would come out with a turbocharged Mazda 3. It looks like that is indeed happening, as indicated by leaked codes from Mazda’s dealership extranet system. Essentially, it’s a new Mazdaspeed 3 in everything but the name.
Ever since the new Mazda 3 came out, people have been clamoring for a return of a Mazdaspeed variant, a high-performance hot hatch with forced induction. Mazda adamantly stated that a such a car was not in the works.
But it was. Dealer codes leaked to Jalopnik reveal that a turbo engine is coming to both the 3 sedan and 3 hatchback. While it doesn’t give any specs, we can expect that it will be the turbocharged 2.5-liter available in the Mazda 6 and CX-5.
And while Mazda has quashed any possibility of the Mazdaspeed 3 name, a turbocharger will be just as good. The regular 3’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four spits out 186-horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. It’s a decent output on its own, made brilliant when paired with the car’s outstanding handling. In other cars the turbo 2.5 generates a 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
We can only imagine what the turbo 3 will be like to drive. The Mazda 3 is 372 pounds lighter than its big brother 6, so when the engine is plopped into its already insanely fun chassis it should make for a real firecracker.
For some, one drawback might be that there doesn’t appear to be a manual option with the turbo engine. That comports with the fact that even in other cars, Mazda has never offered it with a stick shift. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s okay, though. Having driven the 3 in both manual and automatic versions, I personally think the manual is vague feeling as most modern manuals are, and that the automatic’s shift map is quite smart, especially in Sport mode.
As a tangent, the Jalopnik article reports, “There’s also an ‘Anniversary Edition’ turbo all-wheel-drive hatchback in ‘Snowflake White Pearl’ and special red seats for the 3, and the same option will be available on the all-wheel drive CX-5.” We assume that will mean the classy 100th Anniversary Edition cars will be coming to the US. That the turbo will arrive to coincide with the package is just icing on the cake.
So does it matter that it’s not called Mazdaspeed? A name is just a name (we got the name wrong in our original prediction too). The company is trying to move upmarket, which will mean distancing itself from a boy-racer image that Mazdaspeed would evoke. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if the car has the performance chops, which it almost certainly will. You’ll just have to add your own hood scoop.