Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Kid on the Hot-Hatch Block

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Kid on the Hot-Hatch Block

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Scantlebury

SO I eased out of this 146mph Beamer and ducked into the little Mazda, fearing a dollop of after the Lord Mayor's show.

And what do you know? I found a Wowee exploding past my lips as the MPS seared into action, justifying all I had heard about the new kid on the hot-hatch block.

There's a limiter to throw out the anchor at 155mph and wicked acceleration, all courtesy of a 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine generating 260bhp and a hefty 285lb/ft of pull. That's in a variant of a small family car, remember.

Start up, count from one to seven and you are already beyond 70mph.

The surprise comes because the Mazda3 MPS doesn't look that startling against some hot hatches, even with the extra Sports Aero kit fitted here.

Yes, there are side skirts, front styling and aerodynamic bits, but, apart from the big rear spoiler and the hefty tailpipe, the effect isn't dramatic.

If the test car had been a cool blue and not the eye-watering vivid red it was, I would have said it was, well, ordinary, especially as the car comes only as a five-door. So we have an old-fashioned wolf lurking in disguise, at least on the outside.

In the cabin, the deep-potted red dials and the aluminium pedals more readily proclaim the car's nature and a closer inspection of the exterior does reveal more clues - the small door mirrors with split stem to reduce wind resistance, for instance, and the 18in, 10-spoke alloys.

Less obvious is the lowered suspension of the Sport Aero, with fully-independent front by MacPherson strut and independent E-type multi-link at the rear, and the big disc brakes, 300mm ventilated at the front and 280mm at the rear.

All geared up to go, then, and embarrass the hard-revvers alongside you at the lights.

But beware of piling on too much of that power and pull, because the car, front-wheel drive and unitary body/chassis, can flinch at the experience, despite the limited slip differential to help grip at the front. …

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