MAZDA has officially detailed its long-rumoured return to the hot hatch segment, with its USA subsidiary divulging all of the key-specs and features of its new all-paw Mazda3 2.5 Turbo.
Contrary to details contained in the Mexican reveal earlier this week, Mazda’s new pocket rocket will wade into the hot hatch battlefield armed with 186kW of power and a mountainous 434Nm of torque – 16kW/14Nm more than initially thought.
That hefty torque figure shoots the 2.5 Turbo straight to the top of the tables in terms of pulling power amongst the current crop of mainstream hot hatches, with its nearest rival being the recently launched Ford Focus ST with 420Nm.
However the Ford fights back with a higher kilowatt count (206kW), as does the rabid Honda Civic Type R (228kW), Renault Megane RS (205kW) and Hyundai i30 N (202kW).
In terms of the immediate competition, only the 180kW/380Nm Golf GTI is left wanting in either respect.
The secret to this all-conquering torque figure is a tuned version of Mazda’s familiar 2.5-litre SkyActiv-G turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, as found under bonnet of the bigger Mazda6 sedan/wagon, CX-5, CX-8 and CX-9 SUVs.
Mazda does specify however these outputs are only possible when the engine is running on premium unleaded fuel (93 octane in the USA, 98 RON here).
When running on standard fuel (87 octane/91 RON) the figures drop to 170kW/420Nm – the same figures shown in the Mexican reveal.
Unlike any of its direct rivals, power will be sent to all four wheels exclusively via a six-speed automatic transmission with no option of a manual.
Given the same engine – in 170kW/420Nm guise – propels a Mazda6 sedan from 0-100km/h in a little over seven seconds, it would be far from unreasonable to expect a low six-second dash from the much lighter, more powerful and all-paw hot 3.
Both hatch and sedan body types will be offered with the force-fed, all-paw setup, immediately creating an alternative the Hyundai i30 Fastback N and Skoda Octavia RS as well as the previously mentioned hatchback rivals.
Visually, the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo closely resembles its standard brethren with only a few subtle hints as to its identity.
At the front there is a gloss black grille and integrated chin spoiler, the wing mirrors are finished in black regardless of body colour while at the back are enlarged exhaust tips and ‘turbo’ badging.
The whole package then rolls on black 18-inch alloy wheels.
For those wanting an extra element of sportiness, the Premium Plus Package adds a gloss black lip spoiler to the rear of the sedan while the hatchback scores a gloss black rear roof spoiler and front air dam.
This subtly sporty theme is continued inside the cabin with the 2.5 Turbo brandishing unique chrome trim around the start button and glovebox, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and a frameless, auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Standard equipment elsewhere includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mazda Connected Services, all accessed via an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
An in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, premium 12-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, keyless entry and start, head-up display, power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery and aluminium speaker grilles are also all included as standard.
Far from just being an exterior pack, the Premium Plus Package adds leather seats, satellite-navigation and HomeLink.
Befitting of a top-spec model, safety features are aplenty on the new hot 3, boasting radar cruise control with stop and go function, smart brake support, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, adaptive automatic headlights and high beam control.
Once again the Premium Plus Package ups the ante with rear smart city brake support with rear cross-traffic braking, surround-view monitor and parking sensors front and rear.
While only confirmed thus far for North America, Mazda Australia is sure to be gunning for the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo to be made available here given Australia’s almost insatiable appetite for hot hatches, but at this stage the local arm is only saying that “it’s something we could consider for this market”.
If the new car is secured Down Under, it would be the first performance-oriented Mazda to grace our shores since the fire-breathing Mazda3 MPS was put out to pasture in 2013.
For reference, the MPS was powered by a force-fed 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine good for 190kW/380Nm, all of which was sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
Mazda sold 7235 Mazda3s in the first half of 2020, accounting for a healthy 12.9 per cent of the sub-$40,000 small-car segment.