What is it?
The Mazda 3 MPS has always been something of a sleeping giant in the hot hatch market. It’s unusual in having an oversized, 2261cc four-cylinder engine, but while its 256bhp power output was eye-widening stuff at launch, these days it’s merely towards the sharp end of the class.
Brackley-based tuning specialist BBR has a long history of working with Mazda’s MX-5, and the firm has now launched a three-stage tuning programme for the 3 MPS (and the identically engined 6 MPS).
Stage one consists of a remap for the DFI ‘four’ taking power to 290bhp and torque to 330lb ft. Stage two, as driven here, adds a high-flow fuel pump, a new air filter, and a sturdier turbo inlet hoses, plus a replacement exhaust downpipe, pre-catalyst and catalyst, all at a cost of £2040 fitted. In this state of tune the MPS generates 318bhp at 6580rpm and 370lb ft at 3800rpm, with most of that torque available from just over 3000rpm. Stage three promises to be bordering on the insane, with a bespoke turbocharger and intercooler delivering more than 400bhp.
What’s it like?
There are two main benefits to the stage two conversion. First, the car is now sensationally quick when run through the gears, and by any realistic yardstick. Secondly, the amount of low and mid-range torque is very satisfying, and makes this Mazda an effortlessly good overtaking machine. Fourth gear alone satisfies most requirements. Nevertheless, the downside is plenty of torque steer if the roads are bumpy and greasy.
BBR has also turned its attention to the chassis, fitting a set of its own springs (and also offering Koni adjustable dampers, although our test car retained the standard units). The new springs, which cost £465 fitted, are shorter but softer than the factory items, so the car sits purposefully lower and the geometry of the suspension is subtly altered. Turn-in is improved and the less aggressive spring rate improves the ride, but it would be good to try the car with the Konis.
Should I buy one?
BBR’s work on the Mazda 3 MPS turns it into a seriously quick hatch. At the sort of speeds this 3 MPS can now carry on a typical B-road, some improved damper control could make it into a really superb one.