By on May 31, 2014

ms3

To my mind, there have only been two truly committed “sport compacts”: the Dodge (Neon) SRT-4 and the non-smiling generation of the Mazdaspeed3. Everybody else, from the original GTI to the Focus ST, has diluted the “more power” formula with additional refinement or equipment or Euro-style panache.

The current Mazda3 has already gotten plenty of props from us and from others. Will there be a turbo model to marry the big-power attitude of the original MS3 with the refinement and room of the current car?

According to the folks at CarsGuide, who presumably can read Japanese, the home-market Holiday Auto is reporting that there will be an MS3, and that it will be:

* Turbocharged! (Woo-hoo!)
* Six-speed manual (Alright!!!)
* All-wheel-drive

disappointed

Ain’t that some shit, man. That will likely push the weight to 3200lbs or so. With that much jelly in the jam, and the additional driveline drag of AWD, the proposed 300hp from a turbo/Skyactiv combo engine is unlikely to set the world on fire, or particularly trouble drivers of the original MS3 in a straight-up 40 roll.

Let’s hope that Holiday Auto (pronounced “Holiday Aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-to“) has it only partly right, and the next Mazdaspeed3 will follow the same FWD, no-frills format as its predecessors.

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82 Comments on “Return Of The Mazdaspeed 3? Sorta...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    Sorry Jack, but this actually sounds just about perfect to me: a little nicer on the inside (and hopefully hatchier) than a WRX, more reliable than a Golf R. I certainly wouldn’t mind having some extra traction to go with the power in the middle of winter.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Seconded. The new 3 hatch looks great in pictures and is stunning in person. Both the base WRX and the STi go like stink but have a face (and everything else) only a mother could love. An MS3 doesn’t need to be a technology demonstrator, but putting a powerful, efficient motor to all four wheels in a beautiful car at a reasonable price with solid reliability would seriously pique my interest.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      +1 me too. I still pine a little for the Mazdaspeed 6 which never seemed to find it’s market. If it’s more like the speed 6 with a hatch than the original speed 3 I’d be pleased.

      I tried to buy speed 6 a couple of times when they were in production but couldn’t square the circle between the various factions that come into play and my wife pitching a fit about the heavy clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      It would depend on the AWD system used. If its yet another rendition of the Haldex system that is used by VW and the FWD Mercs then its a waste of time (and weight). The Haldex system only helps in a straight line and in snow traction but fails to deliver on any improvement in handling.

    • 0 avatar
      natrat

      golf r will put it in the weeds ha ha

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      If Mazdas rust out like cheap beer cans why make any of them all wheel drive ?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Turbo-4 sounds like diesel fairy dust for the US.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Mazda has been boosting the hell out of their DI 2.3 for years now. Why do you not think they could fit it to sky-active G? Especially since they are trying to design the whole powertrain and suspension as a cohesive unit, which to me would lend itself well to a sporty varient.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      Mazda needs a new engine for the upcoming CX-9 replacement; that means either turbo or V6, and turbo makes the most sense. They’ll be able to share the engine with the Speed3, and they can use the same strategy to add forced induction to smaller Skyactiv engines, opening up the possibility for a high powered Mazda2 and/or Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        They have said before that the SkyActiv engines are not designed for boost. Odds are, if they do a turbo’d engine, it will be significantly different rather than just bolting on some sort of forced induction.

        Sharing an engine between the CX-9 & Speed3 makes sense. But they’ve also been pushing diesel at the race track for a couple years now. Why pay for racing and insist on using a “production-based” diesel engine if they don’t put it in any production car? At the local auto show, I spoke with a Mazda employee who said that:
        1. Mazdaspeed isn’t dead.
        2. No one–even inside the company–knows what their plans are. Either they are very good with keeping secrets or they haven’t decided what direction they will go.
        3. He believed a diesel based on the race engine would find its way into the next Speed3.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          I tend to agree on the diesel, there has to be a reason they’ve been running the hell out of it in all these racing series. They want to establish it as a legitimate speed/sport option.

        • 0 avatar
          Demetri

          Check out this article: http://www.caradvice.com.au/282304/mazda-cx-9-next-generation-to-drop-v6-still-no-diesel-expected/

          “But obviously a question is whether we put in two more cylinders or use turbocharge, which is cost-effective and [offers] better performance. As Mazda is moving up towards premium territory, at some point in time we will need a six-cylinder. It’s too early, we don’t have a car yet. But we are collecting advice as to V6 or straight six”

          That sounds like they’ve almost settled on turbocharging.

          “With the CX-9 the main market is the USA. In general, these customers don’t have a strong preference towards diesel engines. So probably the main engine should be a petrol engine in my opinion.”

          That’s the most important part. Diesel is a non-starter in North America, and to not offer a gas engine on the CX-9 would be a big mistake. With the issues they’ve been having with Skyactiv-D elsewhere, and the emissions regs that have prevented it from coming to North America , I’m doubting we’ll see a Mazda diesel at all in the US at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            One of the big car mags has announced that they will have a diesel 6 as part of their year-long test fleet, so the diesel will be here, and it also indicates a time limit of when it will arrive.

            They’ve said that they would insert a urea system to pass emissions if necessary. So, it may not be what they originally promised, but they definitely will release the diesel here.

  • avatar
    njmx

    “To my mind, there have only been two truly committed ‘sport compacts\'”

    You don’t consider the Lancer Evo to be a truly committed sport compact? I mean sure there is a little bit of extra trim, but the vast majority of upgrades in that model is purely performance oriented. And there is quite a bit of it.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s in a different bracket than the Neon and MS3.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Agreed. It was a silly statement to begin with. Additional refinement is one thing, but additional equipment and flair? Almost every performance variant is priced at the top end of the trim spectrum and is thus equipped accordingly. Even if Jack’s criticism was warranted, couldn’t see also add the Civic Si, SE-R, and probably countless others to the list?

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      I understand what Jack is saying. Sure, these cars may have base models that are similar, but in the end, the Evo and STI are junior supercars, with all the heavy (and expensive) hardware that includes. They’re so far removed from the base material that they’re in a different class. A Neon SRT or a MS3 is simply an econobox with a honking big motor. Simpler formula. Not as capable, but lots of fun.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Pretty sure the Cobalt SS didn’t have Euro-style panache.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The current MS3 weighs ~3300lbs. This thing will push past 3500lbs easy.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Sounds great, except it will be a haldex style AWD I assume. Not a huge fan, but better than FWD.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I honestly prefer fwd to haldex setups. 300hp is a bit over the top for fwd in most scenarios calling for outright pace, but over the top is kind of fun if you’re not timed.

      I also prefer fwd hatches to be engineered without concern for the ability to stuff a rear driveline into the chassis.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Agreed, one of the reasons a souped 2 would be nice is that it wasn’t made with 4WD in mind, nor was it derived from a crossover like the CX-5.

        • 0 avatar
          Demetri

          There have been strong rumors concerning the new Mazda2’s platform being used for a compact crossover slotted below the CX-5. Whether that will be available with AWD, I don’t know, but it seems likely that Mazda will try to get a piece of the compact crossover market, as it’s a growing segment, especially globally.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I’m pretty sure all the new Mazdas (except the Miata) are derived off the same platform.

          The CX-5 has a 4WD option, and there is an option for 4WD on the 3 in Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            All of them use “Skyactiv” except for the 2, thats still the Fiesta platform thankfully.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        All my cars are RWD or AWD (subies). Whenever I get into a FWD car (rentals – but decent ones), I am always reminded about the sacrifice one makes with steering precision and throttle. Under torque, it simply isn’t there, add more torque and it gets worse.

        There are very fun FWD cars, but if I had my preference for a car with power, I’d go RWD then AWD with a Audi longitudinal set-up or something like Subaru’s manual trans setup. And if you are going to have fun going slow, RWD is much more fun :)

        I do realize FWD makes for nice packaging. One of my favs is the Honda FIT, but it is “blessed” with low torque. Give the standard 2.5l 3 a stick and give the MS3 AWD – that would make for decent choices between practicality and more fun.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I’d forgotten about that video.
    Fat and heavy, wow. After it’s on the market for a while maybe they can drop the manual too.
    The days of a GLH turbo are over I know, but I guess I can hope for a Mazdaspeed2 that would be very basic and lighter.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      You should be able to buy the B-Spec kit for the (2012) Mazda2 from Mazda Motorsports for $2600.

      That said once you do that and install a proper roll cage and necessities it should only run you about $10k. Or just buy one that’s already done from someone.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Pushing 300hp thru fwd it a bit much and maybe to control that amount of torque would be too much of a sacrifice that awd solves and provides some better control in slippery conditions.

    • 0 avatar

      You wouldn’t need 300hp if it weren’t so bloated. Keep it simple, stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Problem is that, say, 2800lbs (or lower) doesn’t sell cars like 300hp does. Whatever makes for a better car just isn’t as effective as what makes for better bragging rights.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Exactly. We are in the magazine headline enthusiast era.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          The counter-argument is that most drivers wouldn’t benefit from a 2800 lb car in everyday driving situations (beyond fuel economy) but they would with a HO engine in a heavier car in terms of NVH and safety systems.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The Mazda3 2.0 hatch comes in just under 2800 with the stick shift. And the counter-counter argument is that sure, NVH is a high priority for most drivers, but then the 3 is hardly unrefined, and in any case Mazda isn’t going for “most” drivers.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    It will also be more expensive than the current MS3, more in line with the WRX, but look at it this way: that just makes more room for a Mazdaspeed2.

  • avatar
    WhatDaFunk

    Honest question here (so don’t jump down my throat) but why do enthusiasts like AWD more than FWD? They both understeer, but AWD is heavier and less efficient. Outside of poor conditions, or super cars that need the AWD just to be controllable, why not just go FWD?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Some AWD systems can be setup for a little rear basis. With FWD unless the chassis is really sorted its all push (understeer) all the time. Plus most turbos can easily be tuned for more boost overcoming the weight penalty of the drivetrain. Also torque steer can be off the charts in a heavily modified FWD setup. All I know is my brother’s Golf R runs circles around my 350Z on the track so there must be something to this AWD thing. Still agree on principal – a lighter FWD option would be nice.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        A Golf R shouldn’t be shading a 350Z on track unless it’s had the boost dialed up to the 3.0 bar mark.

        Are you guys on equal tires?

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Do you think his 350Z is totally stock – unmodified? Especially the abysmal brakes?

          What – is dialing up the boost in a Golf R and swapping out for a better HPFP for $1,200 to make 350 whp somehow illegal or Not Quite Sporting?

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Even at 350hp, the Golf R shouldn’t have much for a 350Z. That thing is such a pig on a track.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      And 350Zs, with no back seat, no AWD and pushing 3,400 lbs., are such whippets. An early victim of platform-sharing and the attendant bulk.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Pretty simple answer WhatDaFunk, if you want a fast compact at a good price it will be based on a FWD economy car. You get to a certain point, even with fancy differentials you can only put so much power through the front wheels. All Mazdaspeed3 models have had some sort of torque limiting in low gears. So you don’t even get to use all that power.

      EVERY stock car is an understeering pig even RWD, you have to tune that out in the aftermarket. But you are talking about steady state cornering…try power on in a powerful FWD and you wash out in massive understeer. Switch to AWD and you solve that problem. I switched from an SRT-4 to a WRX at one time, and while the cornering behavior was similar The WRX powers out of corner exit the way the SRT-4 just couldn’t even with the Quaife LSD. I did many track days with both cars.

      On the street FWD it is a little unruly in low gears, easy to blow the tires away (my SRT-4 was Mopar stage 2) turning or straight, and forget it if the road is damp. I find it more fun to have traction all the time.

      Not that I didn’t like the SRT-4, and I totally get the tradeoff, if you add AWD you are adding cost and weight. The SRT-4 was a screaming bargain in its day.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Integra type R not getting any love from JB? If it’s good AWD and not just the cheapest thing that checks the box, this could be big for Mazda.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Seeing a modern 3 in person I can say that they’re already too fat as it is, 4WD just means a intriguing VW Golf R alternative.

    I just wish Mazda would ditch their weird over-sized grilles, smiling or not. They can’t be helping aerodynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      IIRC, the sedan with grille shutters has best in class coefficient of drag, so it can’t be hurting it too much.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        That just makes me wonder why theres even a grille if the car has shutters.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Because the grille doesn’t necessarily need to be open ALL the time. It’s just cheaper to do it that way, if you don’t care about aero.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I’d think they could just skip the upper grille and cool things down with a few well placed vents, saves money on shutters.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          They can’t get by in all cases (e.g., very hot weather, high engine load, low air flow) without the full-open case. That’s why it’s there. But they don’t always *need* the full-open case. It’s a lot like having a turbo–power when you need it, fuel efficiency when you don’t.

          The shutters not only improve aero, but they also limit the heat loss of the engine. In cold weather, more fuel energy is lost as heat just because of the larger delta T. Closing the shutters lets the engine get up to temperature faster and limits the air flow through the radiator to only what’s needed to cool the engine rather than excessively cool the engine. When Ford introduced shutters on the Focus, it was included on the Ti trim and on cars with the cold weather package. They have since included them on all Foci.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Thank you for explaining shutters to me, I wonder if anyone will make aftermarket shutters for other cars.

  • avatar
    natrat

    unless 350 hp golf R will leave it in the weeds

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    At least give us the OPTION of the 6-speed automatic. I’d love this as a daily driver, but not if I have to put up with a clutch pedal on my morning commute.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Get out! Get out of here right now! Don’t come back, either.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Finally! A car buff that appreciates the merits of an automatic transmission!

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        There are a few of us out there.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Agreed.

          There are times I wish my car had a manual, and there are times I wish it had an automatic. For my driving routine, that preference falls around 70/30 auto/manual.

          Much of the bias against autos seems to be from people who haven’t driven the latest ones. Sure, some are truly slushy, but the newer ones with lock-ups in every gear or DCTs really do perform well. I honestly believe that at some point, autos will be able to do everything manuals do just as competently.

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            I prefer the old slushy ones, the seamless shifting of newer autos is kind of dull.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Hard not to appreciate an automatic transmission when Mazda is the one designing it. They’re definitely a cut above what people refer to as a “slushbox.” Especially the new SkyActiv non-slush box.

        Heck Mazda could probably even make a CVT sporty. Well, maybe, that’s a tall order there….

    • 0 avatar
      SayHiToYourMom

      I had a Speed6 for about 15 months (recently) and the heavy clutch in Denver’s stop and go traffic made me hate life, every single day before 8 and after 5. A manual is GREAT when you’re on the open road – which isn’t realistic for most people.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    While 300hp in a 1450 kg machine doesn’t sound crash hot, bear in mind the X180 Lotus Esprit was 212 hp in a 1412 kg body. Then add AWD for the real world.

    On twisty real life roads the old Mazda 323 turbo, 1992 era, was an absolute rocket ship on which I shredded a set of OEM tires in 400 km.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …i’s much rather see a mazdaspeed 2 pulling all of seven to ten pounds per horsepower, you’d need a crowbar to pry the grin off my face..

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I’d be happy just with the 2.5 being available with a stick on the 3.

    My smoking-turbo 2009 MS3 was enough to prevent me from ever buying a turbo Mazda again. At least my engine didn’t grenade like many of the 1st generation ones, but I got out of it when the warranty ran out so I wouldn’t be a victim of Zoom Zoom Boom.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      I’m not sure why they’re dragging their feet on the 2.5L stick; it’s already available in Australia with that combo. Maybe they’re just waiting for MY2015 to introduce it.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    The new 3 is significantly lighter than the old one, so even with an AWD system it should be lighter than the last MS3. Not to mention that there’s always weight reduction tricks, like carbon fiber hoods. The knock against the MS3 was always torque steer and the fact that for all of its power it couldn’t always utilize it. The AWD sounds like a reasonable fix.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    For 90% of the time you are driving the car FWD is perfectly fine. It will get you through your daily commute just as competently as an AWD system but with less weight, complexity and money. For those few times you are taking a spirited drive on the back roads, the inability to put down all your power from the apex out isn’t going to cost you anything but some rubber from the front tires. I was goaded into taking a test drive of a Neon based SRT4 as is was one of the last in stock and they wanted to get rid of it. I drove it hard and it was enjoyable and may have bought it if the upper bolsters weren’t too narrow for my shoulders.

    By the way Jack, our Avenger SE V6 is broken in if you want to test drive it to see if the extra HP is worth the extra weight on the front end over the 4 pot engine.

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    I think the CX9 would have to lose about 500lbs for this engine to work well in the real world without to many draw backs. I dont need to restate what everyone here knows. I small engine with a turbo in a big heavy vehicle equals very low mpgs when you press the accelerator hard. If they are in a pinch then pay for (again) someones already made 6 cylinder. Subie has a nice one, although Mazda would have to redo a few things under the hood. Or how about Toyoda or BMW.

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