Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mazda 3 Road Test

Mazda 3

Mazda doesn’t seem to have that problem and already has two under its corporate belt – the much-loved MX-5 roadster and from the annals of history the stunning RX-7.

The latest Mazda 3 MPS doesn’t look much of an icon? It’s a smart and stylish family hatchback. It’s even won awards and they are richly deserved given its blend of abilities and styling. But an icon? No, not normally.

But then would a normal Mazda 3 out-sprint a sports car, would it hit 60mph in just over six seconds and would it go round bends as if it was on rails?

Three little letters differentiate this particular Mazda 3 from the rest of the range – MPS – and if you have ever driven the Mazda 6 MPS you will have an inkling of what the brand is capable of.

Thing is the 6 comes with more weight, four wheel drive and longer wheel base resulting in a very fast car that is also easy to control. Strip away the pounds, the all wheel drive and some of the length, but retain the mighty 2.3 litre 260 PS turbocharged engine and when you floor the throttle it is all you can do to cling on to the wheel.

Acceleration is truly phenomenal and you can feel the power coming through the steering wheel as the front tyres scrabble for grip. Overtaking is an absolute breeze in just about any gear – even sixth when you are feeling lazy and can’t be bothered to change down.

Now I’m not recommending that anyone drives irresponsibly but it is nice to know that underneath the mild exterior lies a bit of a beast – and that’s how icons are born. There is established competition of course, just look at the Subaru Impreza, for instance. But the clever thing about MPS is that it looks just like a Mazda 3 not a rally car looky likey that isn’t always to everyone’s tastes.

It also benefits from the 3's modern and smart interior – improved slightly by the fitting of bucket sports seats and its practicality; just cop a load of the boot and rear leg room.

If you aren’t content with the wolf in sheepskin look then Mazda does offer a sports aero kit version with lots of sticky on sporty bits and firmer suspension. Not sure the family would approve as the ride suffers a bit in favour of improved handling but it’s there just in case. MPS is designed to be aspirational; to give the range a bit of a kick. If it gains a bit of a reputation as a bad boy then the whole brand benefits.

And that’s the appeal of the Mazda 3 MPS, practical, versatile, yet sporty. A bit of a best kept secret for discerning drivers. Say hello to another Mazda icon.

Source: French and Lamming Media

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