24 March 2004

The Mazda 6 range will get its long-awaited 260bhp range-topper early next year, when the production version of the MPS first shown at the 2002 Paris Motor Show finally hits UK showrooms.

The turbocharged 2.3-litre four-wheel-drive 6 will be sold in small numbers, with a sales target of around 3000 across Europe. ‘We’ll keep it fairly limited at a good price,’ said a senior Mazda executive. He predicted the price would be around 35,000 Euros (£25k), undercutting rivals such as Alfa’s £28,540 156 GTA.

The concept was branded MPS, which stands for Mazda Performance Series, but internal debates still rage about the branding of the production car; some boardroom members favour MazdaSpeed 6. ‘We’re trying to create an RS or Type-R type brand for Mazda,’ said a company insider. The hottest Mazda will, however, be refined and well-equipped and should be unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show.

The 6 will be joined by a Mazda 3 MPS version, due to arrive in early 2006.

Our Verdict

BMW 1 Series

A final facelift for the rear-wheel drive BMW 1 Series, as it aims to take class honours from the formidable Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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