2010 Mazdaspeed 3 Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2009
FAST FACTS
  • Redesigned for 2010
  • Europe gets a 260-hp, 2.3-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • Top speed of 155 mph
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • Standard limited-slip differential
  • Oversized disc brakes
  • Race-tuned sport suspension
  • North American Mazdaspeed 3 debuts at the 2009 New York Auto Show

Introduction

Launched in 1968 as "Mazda Sports Corner," Mazdaspeed is synonymous with high performance. The company's high-performance tuning division started as an in-house racing division competitive in the famed 24hours of Le Mans race series. Mazda assumed full control of the division in the late 1990s and tasked Mazdaspeed with building consumer-oriented performance models. The first car introduced to the North American market was an upgraded Mazda Prot_g__MP3 with increased engine power. It was followed by the Mazdaspeed MX-5Miata. The success of those models led to the Mazdaspeed 6 (based on the Mazda6) and Mazdaspeed 3 (based on the Mazda3).

The all-new 2010 Mazda 3 MPS is the European-spec variant of the upcoming North American 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, which is set to debut at the2009 New York Auto Show. The all-new 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 is performance-oriented 5-door hatchback. A product of Mazda's famedMazdaspeed unit, the factory-upgraded vehicle is based on the redesigned2010 Mazda 3 model. Dissimilar both mechanically and aesthetically from its sibling, Mazda says the race-tuned Mazdaspeed 3 is one of the fastest front-wheel-drive compact cars on the road today.

Design

Differentiating itself from the standard Mazda 3, Europe's MPS features sportier styling for a more aggressive appearance. The front fender,bumper and hood (with a functional scoop feeding the intercooler) are all unique to the Mazdaspeed-developed model. Bi-Xenon headlamps, LED tail lamps, and a larger "floating" rear spoiler complete the exterior package and help set the MPS apart.

The interior receives semi-bucket front seats and unique black upholstery. Black is the keynote cabin color, and the steering wheel,seats, door trim, shift lever boot, and center armrest continue the trend throughout. Red stitching and Mazdaspeed graphics add a sporty contrast in the cabin. The MPS also receives special instrumentation including a new LED turbo boost gauge and a tachometer with a larger sweep for the needle.

Hardware

Under the hood of the latest Mazdaspeed-engineered MPS is Mazda's familiar 2.3-liter, inline 4-cylinder powerplant. With an exhaust-driven turbocharger, the engine is rated at 260 hp and 280lb.-ft. of torque in European spec. The standard transmission is a specially-designed 6-speed manual with improved gear ratios for 2010.Triple-cone synchronizers, and a low-viscosity transmission fluid,ensure swift and smooth shifts, Mazda says. Power is sent to the front wheels through a torque-sensing limited-slip differential, keeping wheel spin to a minimum, the manufacturer adds. Also, the drive shafts have been optimized to minimize torque steer. According to Mazda, the all-new MPS will sprint to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. Its top speed isa claimed 155 mph.

The chassis beneath the new MPS receives special reinforcements and stiffening by Mazdaspeed. The independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension have modified spring rates and feature larger diameter stabilizer bars for flatter cornering, the maker says.The electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering has been optimized for improved response to steering inputs. Larger disc brakes, offering additional stopping power, have been fitted on all four corners whilenew standard 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels offer additional grip andimprove steering feel, the manufacturer claims.

Technology

To improve steering response and accuracy, Mazdaspeed engineers paidspecial attention to the vehicle's power steering system and upgradedit accordingly. For 2010, it employs three rigid steering gear mountbushings (the previous model used two) to help prevent unwantedmovement in the system. In addition, the electro-hydraulicpower-assisted steering (EHPAS) adjusts boost automatically based onvehicle speed and steering-wheel angle to decrease effort at lowspeeds, yet retain solid steering feel at highway speeds, themanufacturer says.
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