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.
No manual, no sale.
Finally, someone actually saying a modern auto is perfectly acceptable over a manual.
One reason no Mazdaspeed name? Insurance. Another possible reason? Hacks at the auto magazines trashing it because it’s not a Civic Type-R. And Mazdaspeed was more than throwing in a turbocharger. And the likelihood of a Mazdaspeed 3 north of $45 grr makes it a losing proposition compared to 305hp 2.3 turbo Mustangs.
The Mazdaspeed name would imply factory competitor to something like an Audi RS model, or an AMG from Benz. A bigger motor with no name is just a bigger motor. No pressure.
This sounds pretty promising. Will be interesting to see how good the car proves to be.
Mazdaspeed was like a teenager: full of energy, always looking to cause trouble, and fun to hang out with on a Friday night. But that teenager eventually grows up and I am fine with that. But growing up does not mean the adult cant have fun. Turbo, AWD, 250 HP; sounds like a serious Golf R competitor to me. Modern automatics are better than manuals in may ways and its only those of us who like to make our own decisions about speed and torque application that bemoan the manuals slow path to death. I own a 2010 Mazda3 GT with a six speed and its nice but as Ben stated its got a vagueness to it that limits its full enjoyment.
So obviously my opinion here, but Mazda have said that they will not return to the MazdaSpeed way of thinking, and see it as somewhat “juvenile”. Mazda has set in motion the attempt to go up the ranks and become a premium brand over a long period of time, and if this car matches their strategy, it will not be the “hot hatch” a lot of people are talking about.
It’s most likely going to be a quick, premium looking car with quietness and luxury in mind, it will likely not give you good feedback, it’s going to be a bit heavier and thirstier and of course the no manual thing is a sign. Automatics are fine, but the hot hatch segment still has it’s manual aficionados.
Toyota seems to be doing the hot hatch thing, but I think the Mazda3 will be for a different buyer entirely.
I agree Max. Mazda is trying very hard to be the Japanese Audi. It makes me fearful of what the intend for the Miata.