MPS – Multiple Personality Syndrome

The Wheel Deal

The Mazda3 is the baby brother of the legendary Mazda6 and has had to live in its elder sibling’s shadow since birth… that is until now. In a nutshell, the Mazda3 has had enough of its bigger brother. It’s been to the gym and has now well and truly kicked sand in the face of the 6, and stolen its lunch money.

The Mazda3 is the baby brother of the legendary Mazda6 and has had to live in its elder sibling’s shadow since birth… that is until now. In a nutshell, the Mazda3 has had enough of its bigger brother. It’s been to the gym and has now well and truly kicked sand in the face of the 6, and stolen its lunch money.


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The Mazda3 MPS is a 2.3 litre turbocharged, front-wheel-drive monster with more than enough power to run a small country for the next decade. This thing is mental. The four-cylinder engine throws out 191kW (@ 5,500rpm), that’s V8 power, and through the front wheels! Madness!
The MPS even looks like it’s lost its marbles, with that wild bonnet scoop that I’m pretty sure sucked in a nearby herd of buffalo when I drove past a South Auckland farm… that reminds me… I must go back there and ask where they got the buffalo from… odd.

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Seriously, the MPS IS insane. On the one side, it’s a tame little hatchback with a tight turning lock, comfy seats and all the safety assists you could want for. On the other side, it’s a car that will rip your arms clean from their sockets, should you plant the right foot… the torque steer can be quite overwhelming with all those equines raging through the front wheels, so you might want to invest in a gym membership. But it IS fun.
The MPS is absolutely, mind-bendingly rapid. We’re talking the kind of acceleration that only a decade ago was reserved for supercars. At 1456 kilos, those 191 kilowatts and 380 torquey things don’t even raise a sweat to get the 3 to ludicrous, wallet-lightening speeds. With each prod on the gas, back is firmly planted into seat before being thumped again with any subsequent upshifts, all to the tune of an exhaust note that feeds the ears with a cacophony of thrashing pistons usually only heard at a racetrack.


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The six-speed manual box is slick and the massive 320mm ventilated brake discs up front join forces with the 280mm dinner plates at the hind end to reign in the beast.
It’s not just the sound or straight line speed that impresses. Corners are dealt with so brilliantly that they may as well not even exist. The steering is extremely responsive and provides plenty of feedback from the tarmac. Although a FWD car, the MPS is nimble and precise and the ESP will prevent you understeering into any large, immovable objects, should you get a bit too excited. Piloting (and it IS piloting) the MPS is a boy-racer’s dream… and this is what scares me…
You see, when I was a lad, the Mazda3′s predecessor was the ultimate weapon for early nineties boy-racers; the Mazda Familia DOHC turbo. This was an era relatively new to boosted engines and for a bunch of young, backwards cap wearing hooligans, the 105kW 1600cc hatchbacks were more than enough to ruffle the cops’ feathers (that apparently they use to fly… okay, bad pig joke). They were quick little demons, but possessed nowhere near the kind of power that resides under the hood of the mighty MPS.


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In ten years time, the Mazda DOHC turbo, this time in the form of the Mazda3 MPS, is going to be the boy-racer’s weapon of choice once again, when it drops within the budget limits of the future hoons. This isn’t a good thing. The MPS is a seriously fast car. It may have electronic stability control but we all know that no self-respecting teen is going to own a car like this and leave that switched on. Bit of a worry, really.
If any strapping young lads come to your door to pick up your daughter in a Mazda3 MPS in the year 2020, do the right thing, don’t resist the urge to use said lad’s head as a football.
Of course, you can’t hold future use of a vehicle against it. The car itself is a marvellous piece of kit… it’s just perhaps a bit too mental, having all that power through the front wheels… we have Ford to blame for this, after the release of the epic Focus RS.
Right, the MPS is fast, fun and incredibly capable… but what’s it like when your foot has been emptied of lead? Well, there’s plenty to entertain the speedophobes too, such as a very nice ten speaker Bose sound system, uber-comfortable sports seats and a clean, well designed cabin that smacks of its bigger brother’s inspiration. The MPS even gets dual zone climate control, which doubles as a brilliant argument prevention tool.
The ICE (In-Car Entertainment) system in the MPS, like the Mazda6, is a very impressive unit. It’s not quite as good as the Rockford Fosgate system found in the Suzuki Kizashi, but it’s not too far off it. The Bose system features an in-dash 6-disc CD player, AM/FM radio and new tech such as the ability to play MP3s and WMA files.
As well as the stereo, there is a wealth of other stuff that might not sound as interesting but will possibly save your life, such as front, side and curtain airbags, DSC, (Dynamic Stability Control), traction control, 4-wheel ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) and… drum roll, please… fog lights. The Mazda MPS even comes with a brilliant proximity key that negates the need for fumbling in the dark, but unfortunately, it was a bit of an oversight. Instead of hiding the remnants of the olden days, the designers at Mazda decided to simply plug up the old ignition keyhole with a black plastic plug… classy. Still, the key itself works well and it is a welcome touch.
The interior design is very well laid out and the materials used are of a decent quality… but who really cares when the whole point of this car is to drive the pants off it? That’s where the MPS shines. As far as FWD cars go, the MPS is one helluva rip-snorting demon that should never have seen the light of day, due to its pure evilness… but I for one am glad it did… it may be completely bonkers, but’s it’s also completely brilliant… evidence that there is, indeed a fine line between genius and insanity.
The Mazda3 MPS will land in your driveway for five bucks under 50k… you’d be very hard pressed to find this sort of performance per dollar anywhere else, unless you started looking at things with only two wheels.
The MPS is mental, but beautifully so. I’m still smiling from my time with this asylum escapee. Mazda? Madaz!