Mazda 3 MPS: PH Buying Guide


The Mazda 3 MPS is one of those cars right under the radar of most hot hatch fans. Whether it's the restrained looks or Mazda's on-off relationship with the fast hatch breed, the 3 MPS is not a car we hear a lot about. That's a little odd given this was one of the most powerful hot hatches of its day when launched, with 260hp.

Subtle looks appealed to most...
Subtle looks appealed to most...
With that sort of power, the £18,995 3 MPS was good for 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, which was faster than a Volkswagen Golf GTI in 2006 at the time of the Mazda's launch. It was also quicker than the contemporary Ford Focus ST, which shared the same platform as the 3 MPS but used a five-cylinder engine.

The Mazda's engine is a 2.3-litre four-cylinder unit, which is a larger capacity than most rivals and their 2.0-litre motors. It shows Mazda's propensity it go in its own direction rather than follow any trends. However, the 3 MPS did stick with front-wheel drive instead of using the four-wheel drive system from its 6 MPS big brother. Perhaps if this had been used, the quick 3 might have gained more headlines and favour from the press at the time of its launch. It might also have helped tame the torque steer that can afflict the car.

... but the Mk2 is more dramatic if desired
... but the Mk2 is more dramatic if desired
Still, the 3 MPS carried on through a facelift of the Mk1 model in 2007 and then into the second generation 3. The MPS version of this car arrived in 2009, with a £21,000 starting price. Another range-wide facelift for the 3 arrived in late 2011, while the MPS was further enhanced a year later with Xenon headlights, larger front brake discs, new secondary rear spoiler and a gunmetal-effect finish for the alloy wheels.

Throughout its life, the MPS in first and second generation guises didn't change dramatically. It sold in small numbers but has gained a faithful following among those who like the subtle looks and strong mid-rev punch provided by 280lb ft of torque. The MPS Owners Club is where you'll find most like-minded enthusiasts and where the best cars are for sale. If you fancy a Mazda 3 MPS and joining this dedicated band of owners, early cars start from £4,000 and prices rise to a peak of £14,000 for the very last made in 2013.


PHer's view:
"It was a great first modern hot hatch to buy but for me, but it needs to be a car bought by somebody who wants a sleeper and also has a bit of money to put into the car to get it performing as expected."
Paul Taylor


Buying Guide contents:
Introduction
Powertrain
Rolling chassis
Body
Interior
At a glance
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Comments (32) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RenOHH 29 Mar 2016

    There seems to be an awful lot of powertrain niggles and "character" to deal with.

  • GTEYE 29 Mar 2016

    Lack of comments seems to sum it up.

    It might be quick, but its just so dull.

    It almost reminds me of the Nissan Almera GTi from the mid-ish 90's - car mags raved about them at the time, but no one remembers them now.

  • HJMS123 29 Mar 2016

    GTEYE said:
    Lack of comments seems to sum it up.

    It might be quick, but its just so dull.

    It almost reminds me of the Nissan Almera GTi from the mid-ish 90's - car mags raved about them at the time, but no one remembers them now.
    This!

    It has a diff but the reviews say the drive is very average.

    The facelifts are not cheap yet they have an awful interior.

    It's quite well documented the engine has a lot of niggles.

    If they were relatively cheap I'd 'get it' but at their price range I really don't, if you want a cheap but good drive you go french or honda but if you want something more premium you go german.

    It's neither here or there.

  • davidcharles 29 Mar 2016

    HJMS123 said:
    This!

    It has a diff but the reviews say the drive is very average.

    The facelifts are not cheap yet they have an awful interior.

    It's quite well documented the engine has a lot of niggles.

    If they were relatively cheap I'd 'get it' but at their price range I really don't, if you want a cheap but good drive you go french or honda but if you want something more premium you go german.

    It's neither here or there.
    ..well, i guess it's quite rare and very fast so that will be enough for some people.

  • GAjon 29 Mar 2016

    Had both the 6 and a mk2 3 MPS both from new. Forget the reviews, jurnos have to fill column inches to entertain.
    Both great cars and value for money.
    Had both on track and wasn't embarrassed by anything you might consider to be of the same niche and some that might be considered superior.
    As for German quality, the 6 replaced an Audi which started to self destruct after 12 months so was disposed of rapid.
    Never going to be considered as a 'in car' because of the badge, which has its advantages.

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