Spotted: Mazda 3 MPS

The Mazda 3 MPS is one of those weird cars where switching your gaze twixt spec sheet and the car in front of you just leaves you thinking “really?” How can such a dull looking car pack such a hardcore mechanical spec? After all, 260hp through the front wheels – via a mechanical limited-slip diff – should rank it up there with the very hottest of hot hatches. We’re talking Megane R26, Focus RS, that kind of hottest.

Doesn't exactly look wild and exciting
Doesn't exactly look wild and exciting
And yet even with a drainpipe exhaust and a few MPS badges it still looks like it’d be more National Trust car park than Silverstone National paddock.

An easy car to forget then. And something of a bargain as a result. You’re talking an easy grand or two off the price of the cheapest, most tired R26s here and though first-gen Focus RSes aren’t that much more they’ll all have had another four years of hard ragging under their belts. And don’t forget, you’ve got another 30hp in hand over both too.

OK, the 3 isn’t the last word in dynamics. It’s a blunt weapon, deploying its huge boost in great thumps of tyre-shredding, torque steering huff and puff. The steering is a bit numb. And even the Bilstein/Eibach equipped Aero version is a bit inert. But it feels mechanically bombproof, with a very mechanical, Japanese feel to the controls that harks back to Subaru’s better days.

This is the look we're talking about
This is the look we're talking about
Think of it as a blank canvas, with the savings channelled into making it into something rather more entertaining. A few quid chucked at the engine can unleash some serious power. Some money spent on some quality dampers and someone with the expertise to set it up properly can bring it to life. Sling some 888s on a nice lightweight set of wheels for the circuit and you’ve got yourself a serious on-track weapon able to humiliate much fancier metal with the sucker punch of subtle looks and then haymaker to the jaw of that massive power hit and LSD-enhanced (not that sort) grip.

You’ll need some other wheels to get you home of course. And here’s where the fun really begins. Bag some cheapo alloys off a standard 3 from eBay. Get an IAM badge for the grille, an RNLI sticker for the rear window and stick a rolled up golf brolly on the parcel shelf. Best Velcro it down, mind. Discreetly of course.

And then go hunting.

And here’s that blank canvas – an 07 model in metallic grey with just 42,000 miles on it. Yours for just £5,400 and so forgettable to look at you’d best note down where you parked it. Let the fun begin…

 4-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD, LSD
Power (hp): 260@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@3,000rpm
MPG: 29.1mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 231g/km
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 42,000
Price new: £19,145
Yours for: £5,400

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (97) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sn00z0r 31 Jan 2013

    its a good read this thread but the only things is that those pics dont do the colour justice. the car is more blue then gray in a good light. heres a couple of mine.

    i have owned it 3 years now and still love it,

  • SlowStig 31 Jan 2013

    After all the issues I have had with my MPS 3, would never touch another one. IF there was any way I could get rid of mine without losing 2k on it then I would.

    If working, I can imagine they are outstanding performance with bigger boot than an equivalent golf gti and better equipped too. Depends on what people want from their car tbh, mine is a hack which I spend 2 hours a day driving to and from work, its comfy and has a BOSE stereo so it doesn't bother me being stuck in traffic with it but I have owned it for 2 months and it spend 5 of the 8 weeks back at the garage with various problems.

  • dazsmith69 31 Jan 2013

    Aye them 6mps'are very capable and look great

  • wildcat45 27 Oct 2012

    I have the same emgine in my CX7.

    Its a cracking engine, though the turbos are weak.

    I am very tempted not to replace it. Its the longest time I've owned a car.

    Having potentially expensive conversations with a company that can remap it, change the turbo, uprate the brakes and give me 300-400 BHP.

    Great engine, and though my car is an SUV most people assume its a diesel. I love the idea of the 3. Dressing down in a kind of old money way. Just a dowdy not very new Jap shopping car to potter around in......

    My retired neighbours had one. The guy loved it and used to grin and pat the bonnet Wen he saw me. His wife who doesn't drive had no idea. Just a sensible hatchback to her when he drove her to the shops. A different story he told e when he was on hs own. They have a diesel pug people carrier thing now :-(

  • danneth 27 Oct 2012

    big_boz said:
    The St has the Volvo derived 5 pot turbo, Mazda is a 2.3 4 turbo, Focus has a much nicer soundtrack as a result.

    I could never justify running a car that has such high tax/poor fuel economy though. I did very briefly think about a 6 MPS a few years back as the bang for buck is so high but i would resent the thing too much.
    It's not actually that poor when you look at the whole picture, yes the tax is a little higher than some of the other hot hatches but the insurance is also cheaper, the fuel economy is pretty good I find for what you actually get especially at the side of something like the Focus ST.

    My insurance is £200 cheaper a year than the civic type-r i swopped it for I get the same/better mpg and also have an extra 100bhp a load more toys and comfort.

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