The all-new Mazda3 MPS replaces a flagship model that has been a popular sports car around the world since launch in 2006. In just two years, the first-generation Mazda3 MPS quickly made a name for itself by selling 31,100 units globally, a third of them in the USA. Europe is its second-largest market for sales, with one out of every five Mazda3 MPS finding owners here, a total of 6,300 units. The first-generation’s biggest markets in Europe are the UK and Germany, which account for a third of all sales in Europe, followed by Switzerland and Spain.
The new model enters a European C non-premium sports compact segment that grew steadily until 2008, when sales decreased for the first time since 2004 due to the economic downturn at the end of the calendar year. Yet the Mazda3 MPS was very successful between 2007 and 2008, coming from a zero percent market share to take 4.5% of the segment by the end of 2008. This brought new kinds of customers to the brand and helped Mazda solidify its sporty Zoom-Zoom reputation.
Exterior Design – The Promise of Sporty Fun
From the Mazda3 hatchback, the new flagship model gets a larger five-point front grille and dimensions that give it a sporty crouch. This alone would make it even more athletic compared to the previous MPS, but Mazda designers enhanced this by adding new components and styling cues that set the new MPS apart from the rest of the Mazda3 line-up, and that help it stand out even against its sportiest competitors.
A new air-intake is now positioned in the middle of the bonnet that gives the Mazda3 MPS a hot-hatch look, while improving intercooler efficiency. The front end is exclusive for the MPS and designed to give it the muscular, athletic look of a sprinter. It has a new, highly-sculptured front bumper and special front fenders that are larger than those of the normal line-up. These house new 18-inch lightweight wheels with the same, three-dimensional design theme as the alloy wheels of the Mazda RX-8. The front grille and lower bumper sections share the same black metallic finish for a high quality look, and are framed by large front headlamp fascias – much larger than the ones of the first-generation Mazda3 MPS. These contain bi-xenon lamps of an adaptive front lighting system (AFS), that swivels to illuminate the curve at night, and boomerang-shaped position lamps for a premium look (standard or option depending on market).
At the sides, designers combined the striking side panel character lines of the new hatchback with side under-spoilers that lower the car’s visual centre of gravity and enhance its sporty styling. The side mirrors come standard with MPS-exclusive integrated turn signals. At the back, a new and larger roof spoiler and LED tail lamps are introduced that give an even stronger look to the rear end of the car.
Aerodynamic Performance – Form with Function
The exterior design of the new Mazda3 MPS not only communicates high-performance driving fun, it also functions to optimize aerodynamic performance. Starting point here is the new Mazda3 hatchback, which has one of the C-segment’s lowest drag coefficients (Cd) at just 0.30. Adding sporty features like the bonnet air-intake, special fenders and side underspoilers raises the MPS Cd value to 0.32 with a front projection area of 2.217 m2. To offset this, designers employed Mazda’s airflow management technologies on the front bumper design to develop special surface forms. Also they introduced a larger rear spoiler that helps to lower lift to 0.03, contributing to better driving stability, especially at high speeds.
Interior Design – Exhilaration and Everyday Practicality
On the inside, Mazda’s new compact flagship is a unique combination of sportiness and practicality. Just as functional as the normal hatchback, it has room for up to five adults, a large sliding-lid centre console and 60/40 fold-down back seats to carry larger stuff. At the same time, the interior contributes to a truly exhilarating driving experience. The front seat passengers are cocooned in semi-bucket sport seats with good side support, and more thigh and back support compared to the seats of the first-generation MPS. The shift lever of the six-speed manual transmission is now 60 mm higher and slanted towards the driver, which puts it closer to the steering wheel and makes sporty driving more comfortable.
In front of the driver are new meters including the MPS logo and a new LCD turbo boost gauge placed between the driver metres. This snug, sporty cockpit and gauges moving with engine performance make driving the new MPS a unique experience and contribute to a close bond between car and driver, a real Mazda trademark.
The cockpit is not only sporty, but easier to use. It has been created using a ‘zone layout’ with advanced human-machine interface (HMI) techniques that place displays and controls for natural, intuitive use.
There is a new multi-information display (MID), for instance, that shows all essential vehicle and navigation info – placed next to the driver’s field of vision for a minimum of eye movement while driving – and a new MID switch on the right of the steering wheel that allows switching between displays without making the driver take his hands from the wheel.
The MID includes audio system info, settings and maintenance reminders like volume settings for warnings, switching between km and miles, and even on/off settings for displaying regular service inspections like tyre rotation, etc. The trip computer readout shows current fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, distance-to-empty and average vehicle speed. Also the all-new MPS features Mazda´s Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System with a transmitter key that unlocks the doors automatically, and lets you start the car with an ignition button (standard or option, depending on market).
Materials in a black keynote colour were chosen carefully to communicate quality and sportiness. The seats in half leather have an organic red graphic – matching red stitching on the door trim, shift lever boot, (sliding) centre armrest and steering wheel. Also standard equipment (depending on market) are a premium 10-speaker BOSE® stereo system with Centerpoint® Surround System and AudioPilot2® noise compensation, an interactive lighting control and illumination entry system (standard for all markets) and Bluetooth® technology for hands-free telephoning and for playing MP3 devices on the car’s audio system without cables – among many other premium features.
MZR 2.3-litre DISI Turbo – Enhanced Drivability
Using high-pressure, direct-injection petrol technology has a host of advantages over classic injection systems.
Torque of the 2.3-litre DISI engine is about 10 percent higher at 3,000 rpm, because of the cooling effect caused by injecting petrol directly into the combustion chamber. The engine is optimized even further by the introduction of a new bonnet scoop for the new-generation MPS. Its cooling efficiency results in a smooth, linear increase in the rotation speed of the blades of the single-scroll turbo charger for more power at lower engine speeds.
The 2.3-litre DISI Turbo produces 191 kW/260 PS of maximum power at 5,500 rpm. It responds quickly to pedal movement, thanks to high maximum torque of 380 Nm at a low 3,000 rpm, sprints from 0-100 km/h in just 6.1 seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h.
But the way all this power develops has been refined to better suppress sudden torque peaks that can occur in high-performance vehicles.
To realize this, engineers adjusted the electronic throttle and intake volume, readjusted how the electronic boost pressure system interacts with the car’s torque-sensitive super-limited slip differential (LSD) and optimized the left and right drive shafts to minimize torque steer. For the new Mazda3 MPS driver, this translates into a more refined driving experience without sacrificing power. This is truly an everyday sports car with driving fun guaranteed.
The new Mazda3 MPS improves upon its predecessor and meets strict Euro Stage V emission standards, without any loss of power or driving fun. The manual six-speed transmission has each gear set to a slightly higher ratio than the original model, and electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering is introduced.
Both contribute to keep fuel consumption at a minimum. The new MPS is also lighter (by around 25 kg), has an optimised aerodynamic design with a low drag coefficient of 0.32, and new engine calibration.
All this results in a slight improvement in overall fuel economy (0.1 litre less per 100 km combined) and 7 grams less CO2 per km (224 g/km). The direct injection system, which delivers a very homogenous fuel/ air mixture around the spark plugs, allowed engineers to retard ignition timing and raise exhaust-gas temperatures at cold start to quickly heat up the new, single-nanotechnology catalytic converter (see below). The engine’s lightweight, single-scroll turbocharger also contributes to this by limiting heat loss in the exhaust system.
The manual six-speed transmission completes the sports car experience delivering smooth and precise shifting that the Mazda3 is famous for. It has a three-shaft design with triple-cone synchronizers for first, second and third gears, and a double-cone synchronizer for fourth gear, and it uses low-viscosity transmission fluid for easy shifting when the engine is cold.
New Single-nanotechnology Catalyst for Mazda3 MPS
The second-generation Mazda3 MPS uses a new under-floor catalyst that employs single-nanotechnology, a global first aboard the all-new Mazda3. This new Mazda technology is contributing to Mazda’s “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom” strategy and helps reduce quantities of expensive precious metals to make catalytic converters for petrol engines.
Precious metals are used in catalysts because they cause chemical reactions on their surfaces that purify exhaust gasses. However, exposure to high exhaust gas heat can cause these particles to move and combine into larger particles. Large amounts of precious metals have always been used to counteract this, which is expensive and not an efficient use of rare natural resources.
Mazda has solved this problem by developing a new catalyst material structure that allows precious metal particles smaller than 5 nanometres (nm) in diameter to be embedded in it. These so-called “single-nano particles“ remain fixed in their original positions when exposed to hot exhaust gasses, no longer move and no longer form larger particles. And their surface area is preserved, even when the particles experience natural degradation over a period of years. As a result, the three-way catalyst used on the new Mazda3 MPS has up to 90 percent less precious metals in it – from 0.55 g/litre to only 0.15 g/ litre – and it delivers minimal deterioration in purifying performance over a long period of time. The savings here can be passed onto the customer, and being able to use less amounts of precious metals means less of an impact on our natural resources.
New Mazda3 MPS Body Shell – Stiffer, Lighter, Stronger
A new-generation body shell is used for the new MPS, with 17 percent more high-tensile steel and special reinforcements. These include a special support member inside the front cowl member gussets that strengthens the joints between the rear suspension towers and rear floorboard, and a new and larger tunnel member. Body rigidity compared to the previous MPS is drastically improved by these measures – 15 percent for body hysteresis and a 41 percent improvement for liftgate diagonal displacement.
Suspension and Steering Updates – Improved Straight-Line Stability
The new high-performance Mazda3 MPS suspension has the same basic layout as the hatchback version – front MacPherson struts and a multi-link system at the rear – with newly-added components and special settings. The coil spring rates, for instance, are modified for the new MPS and special dampers with increased damping strength are introduced. Together they contribute to more control by providing increased roll stiffness. Also special to the MPS are larger diameter stabilizers with an increased span for the stabilizer mounts, which increases roll linearity.
Like the normal Mazda3 line-up, the new MPS has three highly-rigid steering gear mounts (instead of the previous model’s two gear mounts) which deliver improved response to steering commands compared to the previous-generation MPS. Special Dunlop 225/40 R18 tyres developed exclusively for the new flagship model are standard. They are wider (from 215 to 225), have more rigid sidewalls and better damping strength than those of the previous model. This is combined with an electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering system specially tuned to react more precisely to vehicle speed. Taken together, these special features mean improved straight-line stability, and a flatter ride with fewer undulations during sporty driving manoeuvres.
NVH – More Comfort on a Daily Basis
The new Mazda3 MPS is not only more controllable and fun to drive, it is also more comfortable. The sporty compact’s dual exhaust pipes are all-new and 10 dB quieter above 5,000 rpm than the previous model’s exhaust. They now produce a deep sporty sound that is more refined compared to the single exhaust of the previous version. On the inside, passengers are now pampered with some of the segment’s lowest sound levels. The new Mazda3 MPS has 1.2 dB less road noise, and wind noise has been reduced by 6 percent compared to the previous model.
Safety – Robust Brakes and new Active Safety Technologies Standard
A strong braking system is needed for a sporty compact as powerful as this. The ventilated front disc brakes are 20 mm larger (320 mm) than the normal line-up, while the solid discs at the rear share the same large size (280 mm). It also features a 8+9 inch tandem brake booster with a large, 1-inch (254 mm) master cylinder. These components help make the new Mazda3 MPS more controllable by realizing powerful and stable braking.
New for the Mazda3 MPS is a long list of special active safety technologies as standard that help the driver avoid an accident before it might occur. Electronic brake assist replaces the former mechanical assist, and works with four-wheel ABS and dynamic stability control (DSC), all standard equipment. A new adaptive front lighting (AFS) system with pivoting bi-xenon headlamps illuminates the curves at night (standard or option depending on market). Drivers always know the status of their tyre pressure as well, with the introduction of a new tyrepressure monitoring system (TPMS, standard in most markets).
A rear-vehicle monitoring system (RVM) that warns the driver before he changes lanes when a car is approaching from the left or right rear, or is in the blind spot, is also standard, as is an emergency stop signal (ESS) that flashes the hazard lights if the driver suddenly and strongly brakes in traffic. A parking sensor system makes it easy to park in tight spots (also standard in most markets).