MPS adds ex­tra ag­gro

Sporty Mazda3 is back and bet­ter, writes KEVIN HEP­WORTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

THE Mazda com­pany doesn’t need to be told some­thing twice. Hence the more overtly ag­gres­sive look of the new Mazda3 MPS. No longer does the fastest car in the Mazda range spend its days looking like any­thing but the street rocket it is.

Mazda Aus­tralia’s na­tional mar­ket­ing man­ager Alas­tair Doak con­cedes: ‘‘Yes, there was a les­son learned from that (the un­der­stated look of the pre­vi­ous model). Feed­back was that peo­ple wanted it to look more ag­gres­sive, not less . . . so now it does.’’

That is not to say that Mazda did too badly out of the su­per­seded model. Arriving late in the model life of the main­stream car in the mid­dle of 2006, Mazda still man­aged to move about 1500 of the hot MPS mod­els.

With look-at-me front styling, a bon­net slot that screams turbo and pric­ing as hot as the car it­self, this time around the lead­ing Ja­panese im­porter has much big­ger plans.

‘‘What is re­ally im­por­tant this time is that the MPS has ar­rived at the pointy end of the model life when the whole range is still fresh and ex­cit­ing,’’ Doak says. ‘‘That, along with pric­ing that is be­low the launch price of the pre­vi­ous model de­spite a heap of ex­tra equip­ment, is very ex­cit­ing for us.’’

The en­try-level MPS is listed at $39,690, with the higher-specced Lux­ury at $43,290. Both mod­els of­fer the same 2.3-litre di­rect­in­jec­tion four-cylin­der turbo ef­fec­tively car­ried over from the out­go­ing model.

There’s been tweak­ing here and there to pro­duce the 190kW and 380Nm out­puts, but a touch more ef­fi­ciently — a com­bined cy­cle fuel fig­ure of 9.9 litres/100km against a neat 10 litres/100km in the old model. The 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.1 sec­onds re­mains, as does the top speed of 250km/h.

A six-speed man­ual, dy­namic sta­bil­ity con­trol, trac­tion con­trol, ABS, EBD, six airbags, sat­nav, trip com­puter, Blue­tooth con­nec­tion, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, eight­way power seat ad­just­ment, key­less en­try and start, six-disc in-dash MP3 stereo, 18-inch al­loys, 225/40 Dun­lop rub­ber, fog lamps and a sports body kit are all stan­dard.

For $3600 more, the Lux­ury brings adap­tive bi-xenon head­lights, a Bose sound sys­tem with 10 speak­ers and a sub­woofer, rain-sens­ing wipers and auto-dim­ming rearview mir­ror.

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