BBR-tuned Mazda 3 previews potential of new MX-5

Standard 118bhp Mazda 3 petrol is lifted to 185bhp with carefully-selected modifications

The Mazda 3 is unfairly overlooked in the family hatchback segment. While not quite as fluid as a Ford Focus, the latest iteration has excellent body control, an adjustable chassis and at its heart, some competitive powerplants.

Renowned Mazda tuner BBR, based in Brackley, has turned its attention to the 2.0-litre Skyactiv-badged petrol engine with two new tuning packages.

The first of these is dubbed ‘Super 170’. As the name suggests, output is lifted from the standard 118bhp (though BBR’s own dynamometer registered a healthy 136bhp) to 169.7bhp.

That output is developed at a 6300rpm peak, though BBR claims gains from 2000rpm and noticeable improvements from 4000rpm upwards. Torque has also improved, by 11lb ft to 163lb ft, at 4250rpm.

It’s the work of little more than a Starchip ECU upgrade with revised fuel and ignition calibration, and removal of the electronic throttle restriction. That simplicity keeps the price down to £598.80 (including VAT).

Spending more than that – £2154 fitted – brings further benefits. The Super 185 package includes a stainless steel 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, cold air induction system with a K&N high-flow filter and further recalibration of the ECU, power swells to 185bhp at 6300rpm and torque to 173lb ft at 4000rpm. As much as 150lb ft is available between 3000-6500rpm.

Add an extra £594 to the bill and BBR will attach a 2.5-inch diameter sports exhaust with high-flow catalyst, and £474 on top of that adds a stainless steel rear silencer with 3.5-inch tailpipes.

BBR has worked on the 3’s chassis, too. BBR lowering springs cost £234 on their own (£560.40 on a drive-in, drive-out basis with a full alignment), while £726 (£1052.40 drive-in, drive-out) gets those springs with Koni adjustable dampers.

The most intriguing aspect of all this work is what BBR might achieve with the latest Mazda MX-5 – that also uses a development of the 2.0-litre Skyactiv engine.

That car develops 158bhp and 148lb ft in standard tune, and BBR confirms that it’s already working on modifications for the small roadster. Given BBR’s previous efforts, we’re looking forward to experiencing its latest.

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