Back in 2004, the Mazda3 replaced the Protege, and the Mazda world was never the same: the Mazda3 was a far more engaging vehicle, with better styling, and it was no longer just another “meh” small car.
Helping to prove this reality was the MazdaSpeed3, which launched for the 2007 model year. The Speed3 was a high-performance version of the regular Mazda3, and it was surprisingly potent: while the regular Mazda3 offered only up to 160 horsepower, the MazdaSpeed3 was a 263-hhporsepower turbocharged wonder, only offered with a manual transmission and in the car’s hatchback body style.
The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2010 model year, and the MazdaSpeed3 went along with it. Again, it was a stick-shift, high-performance hot hatchback, and it had 263 hp — still a big jump over the standard Mazda3’s maximum of 167 horses. Both generations of MazdaSpeed3 were loved by enthusiasts, who appreciated this commitment to hot hatchbacks and high performance.
But then it ended. The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2014 model year, and the MazdaSpeed3 went away — and it hasn’t returned since. And I think the time has come to bring it back.
One reason is that the Ford Focus ST and the Fiesta ST were shockingly successful, even though the cars on which they’re based never were — and as Focus ST and Fiesta ST models age, shoppers will want to replace those vehicles with a similar car. There’s a hole in the hot hatch lineup the Mazda3 could fill. There’s also the fact that Mazda is always courting enthusiast buyers with its zoom-zoom mantra and its high-performance marketing, and a MazdaSpeed3 would further enhance the image.
But probably the best reason why they should bring back the Speed3 is obvious: they have the powertrain. The main reason the Speed3 was killed off is that Mazda stopped making the high-performance turbo 4-cylinder it used — but now, it’s back. The Mazda CX-5 Turbo revives this powerplant, offering a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 250 hp — an engine that, hopefully, could be easily adapted for use in the Mazda3 with a manual transmission and all-wheel drive, and maybe a bit more power. It’d be perfect, and now Mazda has no real excuse.
I’m not sure if they’ll do it, as there have been rumblings about the resurrection of the MazdaSpeed3 pretty much ever since it went away. But I’d love to see another Speed3 in Mazda’s zoom-zoomy lineup. Find a MazdaSpeed3 for sale
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