Mazda has just thrown its weight behind an all-new powertrain that sends over 300bhp to the rear wheels of an equally new platform – and that BMW-like combo is showing up on the automaker’s latest family crossovers such as the new Mazda CX-60 and upcoming CX-70. The setup’s performance promise might remind you of the glory days of Mazdaspeed, Mazda’s performance division that produced more spunky versions of the Miata, Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 here in the United States. Allow us to pop your balloons as the automaker has no plans to bring back its performance marque models, according to the latest Australian reports.
Alastair Doak, Mazda Australia Regional Marketing Manager, had to put off the questions of Which car? regarding the return of Mazdaspeed, or MPS as it was known in Australia, which fans have relied on for years. We thought the latest Mazda 3 hatchback, now with a turbo, was a prime candidate for the Mazdaspeed treatment when it debuted a few years ago, but our hopes for the MPS Zooms were also dashed. destroyed at the time.
“That would be nice, but the realistic volume would be small enough for that,” Doak admitted to Which car?. “We have a GT specification and GT SPs. We think our cars drive and handle pretty well anyway, and I think we support each other with the look of these types of vehicles,” he added.
Doak also suggested that we have nothing to worry about when it comes to the performance of Mazda’s future line-up: “If we increase the performance even more than we currently offer, then I think we’ll do well, and we’ll have RWD architecture again too, which will set us apart.” Doak also says the “spirit is still there” regarding Mazdaspeed’s old offerings.
At the time, we called the performance of the 2006 Mazdaspeed 3 “impressive”, delivering 263 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm with a zero-to-60 mph time of six seconds flat, comparable to a contemporary BMW or Audi. It certainly fits the value, hot hatchback category, and featured the same 2.3-liter I-4 turbo engine and six-speed manual transmission as Mazdaspeed’s other model, the Mazdaspeed 6 sedan, although the 3 drove with more purpose.
But the news that Mazdaspeed models aren’t returning isn’t surprising, just sad confirmation. Mazda has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride lately. The new Mazda 3 is great, but it’s been bumpy since, with the CX-30 crossover getting mixed reactions and the 6 sedan disappearing entirely here in the US. Recent rumors that a brand new Mazda 6 was just around the corner seem to be untrue, which was already disappointing.
Mazda’s diesel program has stalled in the US after years of delays, its new Skyactiv-X engine technology has yet to find its way into the US as promised despite launching in other markets, and patents show Mazda working on new rotary motors for extended-range hybrids it could be a dead end, giving the impetus for full electrification in the market. Its new MX-30 EV, with an estimated range limited to 100 miles, simply doesn’t compare to the competition. Asking Mazda for another passion project that demands already limited resources, like a new Mazdaspeed, might be asking too much.
Instead, the brand is focused on rolling out a slate of new crossovers like the new CX-60 in Europe, with plans for a a slightly larger CX-70 version will soon be sold in the United States. Both offer that previously mentioned potent new rear-drive powertrain, so we have Mazda to thank for trying where it still counts. The CX-60 is currently the “most powerful” production car Mazda has ever made. It has a 2.5-liter I-4 gasoline engine with a 100 kW electric motor, plugged into a 17.8 kWh battery, good for a total output of 323 horsepower.