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Turbo 3 ups ante

By Chris Thorp
Auto Express

Engine shared with bigger 6 MPS

The temperature looks set to soar in the hot hatch class! Just when we thought Vauxhall had laid claim to the maddest model in the performance three-door sector, Mazda's new 3 MPS will raise the stakes once again.

The Japanese firm announced the long-awaited fast flagship 3 would get the same fiery 2.3-litre turbo unit as the larger 6 MPS and CX-7 4x4 at March's Geneva Motor Show, but Auto Express has now discovered further details.

Trumping Vauxhall's 237bhp Astra VXR by a massive 19bhp, the MPS - it stands for Mazda Performance Series - will be unstoppable! Engineers have revealed technical information about the motor, which will deliver an incredible 256bhp in UK specification.

Even more amazingly, the 3 will feed all that muscle through its front tyres. The challenge will be getting the power down cleanly without excessive wheelspin or unnerving changes in direction caused by torque steer when cornering.

Peak power arrives at 5,500rpm, while the maximum torque of 380Nm comes on stream at 3,000rpm. With a bodyshell that's 60 per cent stiffer than the standard hatch's, Mazda promises handling to match the performance.

While a facelifted version of the 3 will go on sale in the UK in June, the high-performance flagship MPS variant won't arrive until later in the year.
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