Already available elsewhere in the world as the Mazda3 MPS, the MazdaSpeed3 has officially made its North American debut today in New York. The attraction of the MS3 is pretty straightforward: 250-hp from a 2.3L direct-inject turbo four-cylinder, the same six-speed standard shift used in the MazdaSpeed6 and a universally praised chassis that’s both stiff and light. Despite the fact that the MazdaSpeed3 is still front-wheel drive, we expect it to be a much more balanced package than what Dodge will be offering with its 300-hp Caliber SRT-4.

Interior and exterior enhancements abound on the MazdaSpeed3, so follow the jump to see our own pics as well as the Glamour Shots provided by Mazda. The company’s full press release also follows…

For Release: April 12, 2006

Contacts:    Jeremy Barnes, Mazda North American Operations, 949.727.6844
                  Jennifer Banovetz, Mazda North American Operations, 949.727.6220

-- New MAZDASPEED3 to be one of the quickest front-wheel drive cars in the world –

NEW YORK – Making its North American debut at the 2006 New York International Auto Show, the 2007 MAZDASPEED3 will be the flagship of the MAZDA3 range when it launches in Fall 2006.  With its compact, lightweight body and more than 250-horsepower from a 2.3-liter DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) Turbo engine, MAZDASPEED3 will be one of the highest performance front-wheel drive cars in the world when it hits the highway.

MAZDASPEED3 is the fourth vehicle to carry the MAZDASPEED name in the US, following the 2003 and 2003.5 MAZDASPEED Protegé, 2004 and 2005 MAZDASPEED MX-5 and 2006 MAZDASPEED6.  This will be the first time that two MAZDASPEED-branded vehicles will be sold in North American dealers at the same time.  MAZDASPEED3 is called MAZDA3 MPS – Mazda Performance Series – in Europe and MAZDASPEED Axela in Japan.

MAZDA3 debuted in Summer 2003 and has gone on to enjoy enormous popularity worldwide.  Since launch, it has quickly become Mazda’s best-selling model globally with over 750,000 vehicles produced in just 30 months. 

"MAZDASPEED3 dramatically reinforces the acclaimed dynamics of the original MAZDA3 and delivers maximum driving pleasure through outstanding engine performance and a superior chassis,” said Tatsuo Maeda, Program Manager for development of the MAZDA3 series. 
To create this new benchmark, Maeda’s team focused on three requirements:

• Driving Fun: Formidable performance from the 2.3-liter DISI Turbo engine, along with sharp, responsive handling
• Ownership Delight: Exterior styling that gives an immediate impression of driving fun, and an interior with a quality feel that exceeds expectations
• Everyday, User Friendly Convenience: Balancing driving pleasure with everyday functionality and comfort

As a result, the flagship of the MAZDA3 range features a stylishly sophisticated look combined with performance levels that make it one of the quickest and fastest front-wheel drive vehicles in the world.  MAZDASPEED3 offers strong acceleration from a standing start, superior passing acceleration and one of the highest top speeds in its class.

Under the hood of the MAZDASPEED3 is a version of the turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine that powers the highly regarded MAZDASPEED6 sport sedan and the CX-7 crossover SUV.  Engineered to deliver high performance at all speeds, along with low exhaust emissions and excellent fuel economy, Mazda’s MZR 2.3 DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) turbo-charged engine produces in excess of 250-hp in the MAZDASPEED3.  Final horsepower numbers will be available closer to launch.

Key building blocks are aluminum block and head construction with forged internal components — crankshaft and connecting rods — for long-lasting durability. Balance shafts curb noise and vibration. A large air-to-air intercooler and direct fuel injection cool temperature inside the cylinder.  Shifting gasoline’s change in state from liquid to vapor from the intake manifold to the cylinder provides the substantial cooling effect.  The low charge temperature permits use of a high 9.5:1 compression ratio which boosts low- and mid-range torque by approximately 10-percent over conventional turbo engines.

The DISI Turbo engine is engineered to achieve three aspects of performance that are difficult to realize with conventional manifold injection engines: good fuel economy and low exhaust-gas emissions, powerful acceleration thanks to the turbocharger, and a full and flat torque curve throughout the rev range for exceptional engine response.

Tuning of the exhaust system focused on sounds in the low frequency range, while tuning of engine sound focused on the mid frequency range produced at high engine speeds to deliver an enjoyably sporty sound. 

To increase drivability in what is a very powerful front-wheel drive car, intake volume and boost pressure-control suppress sudden torque peaks, assuring smooth, linear torque delivery.  Additionally, torque characteristics from first through third gears are electronically controlled to deliver appropriate power delivery, minimizing torque-steer and wheel-spin.  More information about this system will be available closer to launch.
Torque control is also linked to the steering angle, and the stiffness of the left and right drive shafts is balanced, also working to minimize torque-steer.  A newly-developed limited slip differential also minimizes wheel-spin on the inner wheel during hard cornering for smooth, predictable power delivery.

The new MAZDASPEED3 employs the six speed manual transmission shared with the MAZDASPEED6, providing the driver with full control over the vehicle’s high power, while contributing to a quiet ride and strong fuel economy.  A compact three shaft design made it possible to keep the overall length the same as the five speed manual transmission used in the standard MAZDA3.  In addition, MAZDASPEED3’s six-speed transmission uses wide gear ratios to fully exploit the wide torque band of the direct injection turbocharged engine. 

Like the updated 2007 MAZDA3, the new MAZDASPEED3 features a body with increased rigidity.  The MAZDASPEED version is based on the MAZDA3 5 Door, with local reinforcements added to produce a body sufficiently stiff to stand up to the demands of 250-plus horsepower.  Suspension and brakes have also been specially tuned. 

Body rigidity has been increased by several features, including a reinforced front cowl member that is joined directly to a plate in the top section of the front shock mount, assuring the same rigidity as a car fitted with strut tower bars.  This prevents deformation of the front suspension towers and maintains correct suspension geometry.  In the lower body, a large closed section member is employed to reinforce the floor tunnel which improves the torsional rigidity of the whole body.  At the rear, the gusset introduced at the bottom end of the rear suspension towers restrains the tendency of the towers to displace inwards which maintains the correct suspension geometry under all cornering loads.
Both the MacPherson strut front suspension and multi link rear suspension have higher spring rates and larger diameter stabilizer bars than the standard MAZDA3.  Damping force on both compression and rebound is raised approximately six-times at low piston speed, and about 1.3-times at moderate piston speed.  In combination with the reinforced springs and stabilizer bars, this produces 60-percent more roll stiffness than the standard MAZDA3. 

Special attention was paid to achieve aerodynamic performance that supports stable straight running, lane changing and overtaking at high speeds.  A wide variety of underfloor parts were employed to achieve the superior aerodynamic performance targets, and the result is a Cd of 0.32. 

MAZDASPEED3’s styling pursues a look of strength and solidity in a design that conveys the car's dynamic performance.  Its form is characterized by boldly flared front fenders and effective use of strong edges on the hood.  These combine with the functional forms of the bumpers, spoilers and other parts developed for aerodynamic performance.  Overall, MAZDASPEED3’s design is sporty and strong, befitting a high-performance model, without exaggerated styling cues. 

Choosing the MAZDA3 5-Door model as the starting point reinforces the MAZDASPEED3’s Zoom-Zoom spirit.  Front fenders are widened by 20-mm to provide clearance for the large tires and to evoke a well planted stance.  And to forge a uniform identity for the MAZDASPEED series, two design elements are shared with the MAZDASPEED6: strong lines flowing back along the hood from the upper part of the five point grille used as the air intake for the intercooler, and the aerodynamically shaped front bumper and large lower grille serving as the air intake for the radiator.  An athletic yet elegant side view is created by aerodynamic side skirts and 18 inch, 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels.

The rear view is characterized by the design of the rear bumper, the large-diameter tailpipe and the roof spoiler with integrated high mounted LED brake light.   

A high-quality black finish sets the tone of the interior, accented by red stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and the six speed manual transmission shift knob to create a sporty yet refined look.  The instrument panel includes a matte black decorative insert panel finished with a hairline treatment to underscore the vehicle’s personality.  A leather-wrapped shift knob, aluminum pedals and stainless steel scuff plates further contribute to the sporty, high quality feel that distinguishes MAZDASPEED models, while semi bucket front seats provide firm support and comfort.

Large diameter four-wheel disc brakes, vented in front, and a large diameter master cylinder provide powerful and stable braking.  Standard equipment includes four-wheel ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) with brake assist and dynamic stability control (DSC), all of which provide active safety in a range of driving scenarios. 

For protection during collisions, MAZDASPEED3 employs the unique Mazda Advanced Impact energy Distribution and Absorption System to deliver a robust and safe body structure.  Inside the cabin, dual frontal airbags, as well as seat-mounted side and roof-mounted curtain airbags, are all standard.  A collapsible brake pedal and steering column structure reduce the risk of injury to the driver's lower legs.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.  Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
External Dimensions       
Overall length w/license plate holder    (mm)    4490
Overall width    (mm)    1765
Overall height    (mm)    1465
Wheelbase    (mm)    2640
Front Tread    (mm)    1535
Rear Tread    (mm)    1525
Engine Type        Inline 4-cylinder, DOHC turbo petrol
Displacement    (cm3)    2260
Bore x stroke     (mm)    87.5 x 94.0
Valves        4 per cylinder
Max. power*    (hp)    more than 250hp
Max. torque*    (lb-ft)    about 280 at 3000 rpm
Transmission        6-speed manual
Gear Ratios       
1st        3.538
2nd        2.238
3rd        1.535
4th        1.171
5th        1.085
6th        0.853
Final drive ratio (1st - 4th)        3.941
Final drive ratio (5th – 6th)        3.350
Reverse        3.831
Suspension and Wheels       
Front suspension        MacPherson Independent struts
Rear suspension        Independent Multi-link
Wheel size        18×7J
Tire size        215/45R18 93Y
Type front        Ventilated discs
Type rear        Solid discs
Diameter front     (mm)    320
Diameter rear    (mm)    280
* Mazda targets subject to change upon homologation

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