– This fall, Mazda will launch the flagship of its Mazda3 line, the MAZDASPEED3. With its compact, lightweight body and more than 250-horsepower from a 2.3L Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) turbo engine, Mazdaspeed3 will be a high-performance front-wheel-drive car. MAZDASPEED3 is the fourth vehicle to carry the MAZDASPEED name in the U.S., following the 2003 and 2003.5 MAZDASPEED Protegé, 2004 and 2005 MAZDASPEED MX-5, and 2006 MAZDASPEED6. This will be the first time that two MAZDASPEED-branded vehicles will be sold in North American dealers at the same time. MAZDASPEED3 is called Mazda3 MPS (Mazda Performance Series) in Europe and MAZDASPEED Axela in Japan.The DISI Turbo engine is engineered to achieve three aspects of performance that are difficult to realize with conventional manifold injection engines: good fuel-economy and low exhaust-gas emissions, powerful acceleration, and a full and flat torque curve throughout the rev range for exceptional engine response.The new MAZDASPEED3 employs the six-speed manual transmission shared with the MAZDASPEED6, providing the driver with full control over the vehicle’s high power, while contributing to a quiet ride and strong fuel economy. A compact three-shaft design made it possible to keep the overall length the same as the five-speed manual transmission used in the standard Mazda3. In addition, MAZDASPEED3’s six-speed transmission uses wide gear ratios to fully exploit the wide torque band of the direct-injection turbocharged engine.Like the updated 2007 Mazda3, the new MAZDASPEED3 features a body with increased rigidity. The MAZDASPEED version is based on the Mazda3 five-door, with local reinforcements added to produce a body sufficiently stiff to stand up to the demands of 250-plus horsepower. Suspension and brakes have also been specially tuned.For protection during collisions, MAZDASPEED3 employs the Mazda Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System to deliver a robust and safe body structure. Inside the cabin, dual frontal airbags, as well as seat-mounted side and roof-mounted curtain airbags, are all standard. A collapsible brake pedal and steering column structure reduce the risk of injury to the driver’s lower legs.