RE: Mazda 3 MPS: Spotted

Tuesday 27th November

Mazda 3 MPS: Spotted

Want a quick, usable modern hot hatch that you don't see that often? Look no further...



It's been four decades since the Mk1 Golf GTI was parachuted into the car market, and the nation's appetite for hot hatches shows no sign of abating whatsoever. Just last year, Volkswagen revealed that it had underestimated the demand for the Golf R across Europe - come summer, it had shifted the 100,000th example. That kind of volume - along with fatter margins - is impossible to ignore; especially when most mainstream manufacturers already produce a C segment competitor.

Hyundai has become the latest rival to take the bait. The i30 N is a brazen attempt to pitch a tent on Volkswagen's lawn. And it is hardly the first to do so. Rewind a dozen or so years and it was Mazda clutching the canvas and tent poles as it rolled out the MPS. Based on the five-door Mazda3 of the day, it shared more than a little with the contemporaneous Ford Focus - but not the burly five-pot found in the ST.


Instead it deployed a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine in the nose and did not spare the horses. In fact there were 260 of them at 5,500rpm and 280lb ft of torque 1,500rpm earlier, all transmitted through a six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip differential. All told it was the most potent front-driver you could buy in 2006.

Consequently, it would do 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and nudge 155mph - which is quick even by today's vaunted standards. You did need the right conditions, though, because away from flat, smooth, sun-baked tarmac, the MPS did somewhat struggle to put all its power down and even if you had all three in your back pocket, torque steer was an inevitable feature of spirited forward progress.

Still, a few tugs through the steering wheel reminded you just how much power was being channelled through the front axle. Some people liked the brutality of it all. It was certainly an exciting proposition anyway - and yet somehow the MPS slipped under the radar, so much so that through two versions (an updated model came in 2011) there were never more than 1,200 on UK roads.


Interestingly, that number has remained remarkably consistent; HowManyLeft lists 1,100 in Q1 of 2012, 1,020 of which are still around six years later. We like to think it's testament to the all-round reliability of Mazda's hatchback and also, perhaps, the reliability of the men and women who've invested in one over the years, and endeavoured to keep it from pointing the wrong way in a ditch.

Either way, there are just three MPSs currently advertised on the PH classifieds, listed for between £4,989 and £8,750. The latter provides today's Spotted, and while it is not the one with the lowest mileage, it is the only facelifted model. It also comes with the reassurance of a full main dealer service history, and claims to have had "one owner from more or less new", whatever that means. Still, very few hot hatches of the same age offer performance and robustness in quite the same quantities. And fewer still can claim to be such a rare sight. A bargain, then.


SPECIFICATION - MAZDA 3 MPS
Engine:
2,261cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@3,000rpm
MPG: 29.4 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 224g/km
First registered: 2012
Recorded mileage: 86,000
Price new: £18,650 (2006)
Yours for: £8,750

See the full ad here

Author
Discussion

Vee12V

Original Poster:

747 posts

96 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
One of the worst cars I've ever driven.

From the cheap plastics over the lousy interior to the horrid fuel consumption, lousy handling and most of all, insane torque steer. I all remember them way too vividly. Stay away.

GinSour

15 posts

16 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I remember getting one of these in for a MOT & service at a ford garage i worked at and the car needed a coil spring for its MOT.

You couldn't buy one spring, you had to buy a set of 4 which was around the £200 mark i think (special for the MPS model).

I have heard a few stories on how they are really rubbish on fuel.

They do look good in white to be fair...

DaveH23

2,384 posts

106 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I've got a MK I.

Torque steer is nowhere near as bad as people say. I got mine after a 106 GTi and whilst the 106 was better around corners this also goes around them well.

The £500 annual road tax is irrelevant because of the cheap cost to purchase/depreciation.

Similar for me on fuel becsuse of my low mileage. A single tank lasts a month so that does me fine.

I drive cars under 6 months old every week with work and at 11 years old still feels better screwed together than alot of them.

Don Roque

16,353 posts

95 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I used to see one of these regularly, parked on the main road near my parents' old house in North Tyneside, about a decade ago. It was a first generation model and I recall being astounded at the level of power it made. It seemed unimaginable that a FWD car was making that sort of power from the factory and yet looked so unassuming.

R8FUN

97 posts

139 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I bought one new & the Wife ran it for nearly 3 years. I was going to buy a MK2 Focus RS but the Mazda had more toys & 5 doors (elderly Parents)
The Torque steer wasn't as bad as people made out - we have a MK3 Focus RS now & that is no saint when accelerating hard!

Advertisement

zedx19

1,724 posts

76 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I considered these, test drove one though and found it a bit dull tbh, felt like it was lacking something which I couldn't put my finger on, despite it feeling quick. In the end, bought a mk2 ST with the 5 pot, which has proved to be a lot of fun, an awful lot of fun which still makes me giggle after nearly 2 years.

rtz62

1,550 posts

91 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
There's two of that remaining number live near me, both Mk1 versions in grey.
Both seem to be owned by 'yoofs', having lowered suspension, windows darkened to the 'n'th degree and plumes of vape smoke puthering from the open drivers window (sorry if this is stereotyping!).
Not my cup of Darjeeling, but as is my way, I'd want one that hadn't been messed with at all, which is probably asking a lot (?)

As an aside, why do people insist on putting such ridiculous phrases as 'virtually one owner from new'? It either has, or has not, had one owner.
Same goes for 'POA'; if I had my way I wouldn't allow adverts that didn't display a price, I always get the impression its a tool to extort the most from the market.

DaveH23

2,384 posts

106 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
rtz62 said:
I'd want one that hadn't been messed with at all, which is probably asking a lot (?)
I may be selling my MK I next year. 57 Plate with about 54k on the clock, completely standard.

I don't want to get rid of it as I love it but it's not getting used enough.

JMF894

2,661 posts

91 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
No-one is qualified to moan about torque steer untill they've driven a GM Saab 900T hehe

TheAngryDog

8,280 posts

145 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
VVT system is made from chocolate.

martin12345

43 posts

25 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I was convinced I wanted to buy one of these after I changed jobs, leaving my Mk5 Golf GTi company car behind (excellent car !!). Based on all the spec's as a private purchase, a 1 year old car at ~35% below list looked spot on. Then I drove it and as commented elsewhere - it's just dull/uninspiring. Yes, fast in a straight line but really not a lot of fun in the corners due to poor steering feel and inert handling. Ended up buying a Seat Leon FR, effectively a Golf GTi with a cheaper interior for about 30% less - entirely satisfactory car and pretty much as good to drive as the Golf. Later swopped to a Fiesta ST which was even better than the GTi for involvement (as everyone knows) - loved it till it was stolen. Gone left field now and run a 16 year old XJR. The "numbers" part of my brain still questions why I didn't get an MPS, but the "fun" part took the right decision I believe

rtz62

1,550 posts

91 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
martin12345 said:
I was convinced I wanted to buy one of these after I changed jobs, leaving my Mk5 Golf GTi company car behind (excellent car !!). Based on all the spec's as a private purchase, a 1 year old car at ~35% below list looked spot on. Then I drove it and as commented elsewhere - it's just dull/uninspiring. Yes, fast in a straight line but really not a lot of fun in the corners due to poor steering feel and inert handling. Ended up buying a Seat Leon FR, effectively a Golf GTi with a cheaper interior for about 30% less - entirely satisfactory car and pretty much as good to drive as the Golf. Later swopped to a Fiesta ST which was even better than the GTi for involvement (as everyone knows) - loved it till it was stolen. Gone left field now and run a 16 year old XJR. The "numbers" part of my brain still questions why I didn't get an MPS, but the "fun" part took the right decision I believe
Not sure its quite the same thing but in the late 80's my local Mazda garage bought in 3 Mazda 323 1600 4x4 turbos on the back of their showing in the RAC Rally (those were the days)
I took one out for a drive and was 'quite' impressed but walked across their forecourt after spying a rather marvellous, old-tech Escort RS2000 mk2 they had just taken in on a p-ex.
Just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on the Mazda and bought the very low-miles RS2000 instead.
I guess it wasn't comparing apples with apples but the RS just seemed better put together despite being so 'last century'. Yes the interior of the Escort was 'oldy-worldy' but the Mazda was all hard, shiny plastics that reminded me of my grandmas leathery old décolletage....

Limpet

3,123 posts

97 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
Never driven one, but I've always liked the combination of big power and unassuming styling. At a glance, it could easily pass for any one of the thousands of Mazda 3 Sports you see out and about.

Given the shared DNA with the Focus, it should handle pretty well.

Interesting choice, IMO.

Oily76

46 posts

47 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
rtz62 said:
Not sure its quite the same thing but in the late 80's my local Mazda garage bought in 3 Mazda 323 1600 4x4 turbos on the back of their showing in the RAC Rally (those were the days)
I took one out for a drive and was 'quite' impressed but walked across their forecourt after spying a rather marvellous, old-tech Escort RS2000 mk2 they had just taken in on a p-ex.
Just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on the Mazda and bought the very low-miles RS2000 instead.
I guess it wasn't comparing apples with apples but the RS just seemed better put together despite being so 'last century'. Yes the interior of the Escort was 'oldy-worldy' but the Mazda was all hard, shiny plastics that reminded me of my grandmas leathery old décolletage....
Too much information!

pti

1,022 posts

80 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
Seems overpriced, no?

Helicopter123

4,441 posts

92 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
Tax surely brutal on these?

DaveH23

2,384 posts

106 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
Helicopter123 said:
Tax surely brutal on these?
The MK I is in the £500 bracket. As I mentioned earlier that's offset by their cheap cost to buy. I beleive the MK II in this article is a more reasonable £250.

Motorrad

6,667 posts

123 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
I like these cars particularly the phase one or whatever the accepted nomenclature is.

Over 250bhp and without the bonnet wort and with any luck a lower tax bracket.

Tried one but was stimied by lack of driver cabin space.

greenarrow

1,445 posts

53 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all

The 60-100 MPH acceleration figure on these is really quite impressive. Around 8 seconds I believe, which is still competitive today.

However, they seem quite expensive in comparison with some of the competition out there. Eight grand will just about get you into a Renault Megane 250 Cup, which is surely a whole lot more fun.

I always thought the Mazda 6 MPS was the better car with its 4wd and big boot. The boot on the Mazda 3 is surprisingly small for the size of the car.

Turbojuice

333 posts

25 months

Tuesday 27th November
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
The 60-100 MPH acceleration figure on these is really quite impressive. Around 8 seconds I believe, which is still competitive today.

However, they seem quite expensive in comparison with some of the competition out there. Eight grand will just about get you into a Renault Megane 250 Cup, which is surely a whole lot more fun.

I always thought the Mazda 6 MPS was the better car with its 4wd and big boot. The boot on the Mazda 3 is surprisingly small for the size of the car.
Quite. I like how these look and also how they chucked every gadget at it and made it standard. However I always just think what's the point when an RS Megane does nearly everything the MPS does but better. Only thing the MPS does better than most is practicality.