From £14,805
MPS now looks as quick as it is.

Our Verdict

Mazda 3 2009-2012
Mazda's family hatch aims to close the gap to the Focus and Golf

The Mazda 3 hatchback is superbly refined and a more competitive package now previous faults are fixed

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What is it?

This is the super-powerful Mazda 3 MPS hatch with slightly more in-yer-face looks. Despite having some of the worst, most congested roads in Europe, we Brits place far greater emphasis on a car’s handling and looks compared with our Continental cousins: we like supposedly sporty cars to look and feel sporty.

As UK dealers – and buyers – haven’t warmed to the MPS’s super-subtle looks, Mazda is introducing this UK-only Sports Aero Kit (SAK).

For £500 over the standard MPS’s £18,995 price, the SAK gives you a bigger rear spoiler, sculpted two-spoke door mirrors and an Eibach spring kit.

What’s it like?

Even if you like the standard MPS’s understated looks, it’s hard to deny that the SAK car looks better. It’s still a stealthy machine, but now less likely to be confused for a 1.6 (just as well when you’ve got a turbocharged 2.3-litre 256bhp powerplant).

So that’s the looks taken care of, but what about the handling? The front of the car now sits 25mm lower; the rear is 10mm down. It’s hardly a dramatic change, but enough to have some effect.

Jump from standard car to Aero Kit car and the most obvious difference is a slightly more fidgety ride. Bigger bumps are still nicely smoothed out, but pitted surfaces and small ridges can be felt more readily through the front of the car.

The pay-off should be in the steering. Turn-in is ever-so-slightly sharper, the car also feeling a touch more nimble around the straight-ahead. In addition there is a mild difference in feel, though we wouldn’t necessarily say that there is more feel.

Should I buy one?

Think of the MPS as a mini GT car rather than a hot hatch and you won’t be disappointed: it’s refined, well-equipped and comfortable, and the Aero Kit adds to its appeal.

Rory Lumsdon

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