Mazda 3

15 Dec, 2006 (All day)

Mazda is warming to the diesel cause with a 143bhp version of its 3 hatchback planned for February

The 130mph variant, likely to be badged D Sport, will give the brand a much needed boost as it takes on high-output rivals such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 307. Until now, Mazda 3 oil-burners have been relatively mild-mannered 90hp and 108bhp 1.6-litre versions. These represent only 10 per cent of all 3s sold -well below most of the opposition.

With a six-speed manual gearbox and plenty of mid-range punch, the D Sport should cover 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds. And due to the extra ratio over its smaller-engined counterparts, the newcomer should achieve 55mpg, with CO2 emissions of 140g/km. Next year is set to witness a general move towards more performance diesel family hatchbacks, with a 175bhp Renaultsport Mégane and a 180hp derv version of the Corolla-replacing Toyota Auris on their way.
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