The current Mazda3 is one of the best-driving cars of its type, but it isn’t overtly sporty. What Mazda needs to do is find a little speed.
Automotive News (sub. required) reports that the Mazdaspeed3 will return in 2017 as part of a mid-cycle refresh for the compact car.
Conforming with earlier reports, the revived hot hatchback (or possibly sedan) will have a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine offered in the base car, and may have all-wheel drive as well.
However, while the engine was previously pegged at 295 horsepower, it’s now believed it will produce more than 300 hp. With that much motivational force on tap, all-wheel drive will probably be needed to keep torque steer at bay.
Related: 2014 Mazda3 revealed
That also means Mazda may ignore the entry-level Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GTI, and aim straight at the full-on WRX STI and Golf R. If that’s the case, expect the Mazdaspeed3 to wear a window sticker in the mid-$30,000 range.
The hot rod Mazda will also get sportier interior and exterior styling to match its performance intentions. With its “smiling” front fascia, the last Mazdaspeed3 was a bit hard to look at, but the latest 3’s “Kodo” design theme should make for a very handsome machine.
The next Mazdaspeed3 will reportedly appear in 2016 as a 2017 model; watch this space for updates in the meantime.