Mazda takes itself too seriously these days to make cars like the old Mazdaspeed 3. In its words, such cars are "childish." But maybe it's found youth in its heart again, because Mazda has shown off performance road car concepts by its new factory race team. One of them's a track-ready, turbocharged Mazda3, and the odds of it making production look strong.
Mazda revealed the cars at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon, where it also confirmed the development of a new Wankel rotary sports car engine. For the show, factory race team Mazda Spirit Racing built a Mazda3 and MX-5 that Japanese Nostalgic Car reports tout revised suspension and aerodynamics, making them viable for track use. Seeing as Mazdaspeed was phased out over the 2010s, this makes these cars effectively the successors to Mazdaspeeds of yore.
Mazda told me the concepts are meant to represent track-ready daily drivers, and that both cars bring new engines to the table. The MX-5 uses the 2.0-liter four-cylinder from its Super Taikyu ST-Q endurance racing prototype, which runs on the same synthetic fuel as Toyota's GR Corolla-powered GR86. Mazda has previously mentioned future-proofing historic MX-5s with engines tuned for these synthetic fuels, so this seems to be a development on that front.
For the Mazda3 on the other hand, Mazda told me it's considering a new turbo engine with a performance emphasis—and that this isn't the 2.5-liter turbo already on sale in North America. In the company's words, the engine would offer "a more nimble and powerful driving experience." Sounds like a Subaru WRX-killer to me.
Mazda couldn't comment on the possibility of Mazda Spirit Racing-branded performance parts, or the odds of the brand making it to the United States. However, it stated it "would like to consider expansions in the future," and that more info is on the way soon. Still, it seems at least both concepts are bound for production, as reported by Motor1. Even if neither comes to the U.S., it'll rekindle interest in the Mazda3 platform as a performance car. Should the aftermarket follow suit, it'll be a win regardless.
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