Mazda is one of the few mainstream car companies renowned for creating cars for people that actually enjoy driving, which makes it all the stranger that there isn’t actually a true performance model in the line-up at present.

That looks set to change in the early 2020s, with Autocar reporting that a hot version of the Mazda3 is on the drawing board.

The UK publication quotes insiders as claiming that although such a hot hatch has yet to be officially signed off, this is merely a “formality”.

When asked about the project at a regional launch for the new Mazda3, programme manager Kota Beppu said “I’m a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high performance Mazda 3… I’ll do my best”.

Autocar further reports that following various discussions on the power source, Mazda’s 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine has emerged as the most likely engine choice.

This motor is fitted to the US-spec Mazda6 sedan, where it produces 186kW, but there could certainly be scope for increasing its output to the 200kW mark or beyond.

According to Autocar, Beppu also hinted that all-wheel-drive would be considered in order to counter torque steer, and that the car could be more comfortable than a traditional hot hatch: “It needs to be responsible and friendly… more friendly than a Golf GTI,” he stated.

But would Mazda revive the MPS badge (last used on the 2008 Mazda3) for such a model or go with some other designation? That still remains to be seen.

As for the regular Mazda3 hatch, that is set to launch in South Africa in the third quarter of this year. The pricing and line-up will be announced nearer to the time.

IOL Motoring