The Mazda Mazdaspeed3 is one of our favorite sport compact cars of all time and one of the most lively and fun-to-drive hot hatches the world has ever seen. Winning three Car and Driver 10 Best awards and three Ward’s 10 Best Engines awards for its turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, the previous-generation car delighted a new generation of Mazda enthusiasts, despite its torque-steer-prone FWD layout. Now with a new generation of Mazda3 for 2014, the ‘Speed model has vanished, but only temporarily.
A new report from Japanese publication Holiday Auto claims insider information that a new Mazdaspeed3 is indeed in development, set for a release date as a 2016 model. Contrary to earlier reports claiming Mazda may go high-performance diesel, the report states that a new direct-injection and turbocharged high-output 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline engine will be found underhood, outputting in excess of 295 horsepower and possibly as many as 320 horsepower. And in even bigger news, power will be sent to all four wheels with a new AWD system, an exciting proposition for true sports car enthusiasts.
That would move the Mazdaspeed3 up-market a bit. The most recent model, with its 263-horsepower, 2.3-liter I4 and FWD, competed with the Ford Focus ST and VW GTI. The power bump and AWD handling will allow the new car to go toe-to-toe with the redesigned Subaru WRX STI for ultimate sport compact car supremacy. With the new Mazda3’s extremely lightweight, well-sorted chassis as a starting point, this could be the most exciting car to come from the house of Zoom-Zoom since the RX-7.
Expect Mazda’s latest STI killer in dealerships late next year, most likely as a 2016 model. Start saving those pennies now, as pricing is sure to rise over what Mazda was charging for the previous-generation car. A ballpark figure of just under $30,000 seems to be the target price.