The new Mazda 3 MPS will cost from £21,500 when it goes on sale on 1 October.
This pricing pitches the MPS in the same league as the Ford Focus ST (which shares the 3’s platform), yet the Mazda produces performance figures more akin to the Focus RS, which costs nearly £5000 more.
The 256bhp MPS clocks 6.1 seconds for 0-60mph and has a limited top speed of 155mph, not far behind the Focus RS’s figures of 5.9 seconds and 163mph.
Power comes from the same 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the previous MPS, but improved aerodynamics make the new model slightly more economical at 29.4mpg, and Co2 emissions are down three per cent to 224g/km.
Dynamic upgrades include a body shell with 41 per cent more torsional stiffness, modified suspension and higher gearing.
Styling changes consist of a new bonnet air scoop and front grille, a larger rear spoiler and wider 18-inch wheels with lower profile tyres.
Inside the MPS there is extensive kit as standard (no options are available), including a ten-speaker sound system, satellite navigation, starter button and the blind-spot detecting radar system from the Mazda 6.