Making its world debut in Geneva back in February, here are "on-the-road" photos of the Mazda 3 MPS, a hot version of its Focus-sized and, indeed, Focus-based family hatchback...

Hot Three readies for market launch

Making its world debut in Geneva back in February, here are “on-the-road” photos of the Mazda 3 MPS (Mazda Performance Series), a hot version of its Focus-sized (and, indeed, Focus-based) family hatchback that's set to take on the VW Golf GTI and Opel Astra OPC. The Mazda, however, may well have more power than its VW and Opel rivals, because it shares its engine with the 6 MPS, a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor. In the 6 it develops some 250bhp.

Unlike the 6 MPS though, the 3 is unlikely to feature four-wheel drive. However, because it's based on the Ford Focus/Volvo S40 platform, it is technically possible, because the Volvo is available with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Should the MPS absolutely be front-driven, though, we'd imagine that the engine will be de-tuned too, to a level that the front wheels will more easily cope with.

It certainly looks the part, though. The already dynamic appearance of the 3 is in this instance enhanced by re-profiled front and rear bumpers, a large exhaust, a tail spoiler and large alloy wheels. It's reputedly going to take another bow at the Paris Motor Show in September, which means it'll probably become available at the dealers in early in 2007.

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