BBR Mazda 3 MPS review

Richard Meaden
4 Jan 2012
Verdict:

Renowned tuning specialists BBR have been busy with the Mazda 3 MPS - turning this forgotten hot hatch into a performance bargain

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
See text
For 
Transformation of performance and handling. Great bang-per-buck
Against 
Need to look beyond looks. Sub-par steering.

What is it?

 

With its frumpy looks and anodyne image the Mazda 3 MPS has always been an easily overlooked hot hatch. But now Brackley-based BBR has transformed the bland five-door into a genuinely quick and capable Focus RS-chaser. 

 

Technical highlights?

 

Parting with £549 buys you BBR’s Stage One custom remap, which boosts power from the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor from 256bhp to 290bhp, with a very healthy 330lb ft of torque. Stage Two adds high-flow inlet and exhaust systems and an uprated fuel pump, jumping the figures to 318bhp and 370lb ft. Serious gains for £2500 – including fitting. If you’re really serious then BBR’s Stage Three upgrade will take the MPS to 350bhp – and beyond – but that needs considerably more work (and cash). 

 

What’s it like to drive?

 

On the evidence of a morning bombing around the lanes and A-roads of rural Buckinghamshire, BBR’s creation is fierce, fun and surprisingly sweet. There’s some turbo lag, but nothing silly, and a swell of mid-range torque that really throws you down the road. 

 

BBR has also developed some suspension upgrades to compliment the increased performance. The basic kit is a set of BBR performance springs (£165 plus fitting), which are firmer and slightly lower. They can be used with the standard dampers - as on this car - or with a set of BBR-spec Koni adjustable dampers for an additional £795 plus fitting.

The MPS’s trump card is its standard-fit mechanical limited-slip differential, which ensures all that torque is matched by strong traction and consistent handling. There is some torque steer, but no more than a Focus RS despite lacking of the Ford’s trick RevoKnuckle front suspension. Only light steering lets the side down.

 

How does it compare? 

 

On a bang-per-buck basis, a BBR-tuned 3 MPS has to be one of the all-time performance bargains. With used prices lurking around £8k for pre-facelift cars and £12k for later cars such as this, you could create a 320bhp mega-hatch for well under half the price of a new rival. 

 

Specifications

Engine 2261cc four-cylinder petrol, turbocharged
Max power 318bhp @ 6580rpm
Max torque 370lb ft @ 3900rpm
0-60 5.9 secs (estimate)
Top speed 160mph (estimate)
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