Anybody who has run some of the recent mega-hatches on their fleet, like the Vauxhall Astra VXR and Ford Focus ST, will know you need an intimate relationship with your local fast-fit tyre outlet.
These massively-horsepowered beasts just shred front tyres. So the news that Mazda has launched the most powerful of the lot should have your local Kwik-Fit fitter rubbing his hands with glee.
The 18-inch alloys, small rear spoiler and deeper bumpers warn of something special. Beneath the bonnet lurks the same four-cylinder 2.3-litre engine as used in the Mazda6, although it does without its four-wheel drive. The 3 offers 255bhp, giving the 3 MPS a top speed limited to 155mph and 0-62mph in six seconds – it’s the fastest accelerating car Mazda makes.
Alongside revised steering, stiffened springs, larger stabiliser bars and higher performance dampers, there is a valve that releases pressure in the turbo to reduce boost when the front tyres start to struggle with grip. There’s also a limited slip differential and dynamic stability control to try and tame the torque steer.
The MPS has lots of kit as standard, including satellite navigation and a BOSE sound system. The only option is paint finish. But before the requisite styling pack (which adds a bigger spoiler, lower suspension and RX-8 wing mirrors for £500) it’s going to cost at least £19,000.That makes it look pricey compared to the Focus ST, although it could be argued the extras make it good value.
Mazda expects to sell around 1,000 3 MPSs a year, with user-choosers a likely target. But what does the MPS brand mean to buyers, especially when it’s lined up against a GTI, VXR or ST?
Model: Mazda3 MPS
Max power (bhp/rpm): 255/5,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 280/3,000
Max speed (mph): 155 (limited)
0-62mph (secs): 6.1
Fuel consumption (mpg): 29.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 231
On sale: February
Price (est): £19-20,000