We’ve heard that a new Mazdaspeed 3 based on the latest-generation Mazda 3 is in the works, and that it could be fitted with an all-wheel-drive system to help give it the edge over the front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST—potentially allowing it to target the likes of the high-performance VW Golf R, Subaru WRX and upcoming Ford Focus RS. Now we have a rough estimate of when the new Mazdaspeed 3 might arrive on the market.
According to Automotive News (subscription required), Mazda is likely to introduce its new Mazdaspeed 3 for the 2017 model year, making its arrival coincide with that of the regular Mazda 3’s mid-cycle update. This means we should see the car unveiled at an auto show in late 2015 or early 2016, with the first examples landing in showrooms in the second half of 2016.
Power in the new Mazdaspeed 3 is thought to come from a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with peak output in excess of 300 horsepower. By comparison, the Golf R has 290 hp and the upcoming Focus RS is expected to pack at least 330 hp. The new 2.5-liter unit, which incorporates Mazda’s fuel-saving SkyActiv know-how, will also appear in the next-generation CX-9 crossover due around the same time.
Featured above is a Mazda 3 concept car wearing some Mazdaspeed-branded performance upgrades. The concept was shown at the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon and hints at what the new Mazdaspeed 3 is likely to look like. In addition to its aero pieces, the concept was fitted with Brembo brakes, chassis reinforcements and light alloy wheels.
Note, the new Mazdaspeed 3 isn’t the only performance machine thought to be in the works at Mazda. The Japanese automaker will reveal its all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata next week, and by 2020 it is reported to have two new rotary-powered sports cars: an RX-7 successor and new RX-9 flagship.