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Mazdaspeed 3 (MPS) Performance Tuning Guide

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Table of Contents


The MazdaSpeed 3, known in some markets as the MPS, is a shining example of high-performance car engineering by Mazda.

Manufactured between 2007 and 2013, this high-speed version of Mazda’s popular compact car boasts one of the highest performing engines in its range.

Under the hood, the Mazda 3 MPS showcases a 2.3L inline 4 turbo engine producing 263bhp and 280 lb-ft of torque.

While providing plenty of power for daily driving, many enthusiast owners a look for ways to boost performance even further. 

If this is you, then you’re at the right place.

In this guide we’ll go over all the best proven ways to increase the power, handling and overall fun factor of your Mazda 3 MPS!

Let’s get started.

Aftermarket Air Intake

Upgrading the intake on the Mazdaspeed 3 is a great way to improve air flow into the engine as well as boost induction sounds and hear the lovely spool of the turbo more clearly. 

By replacing the factory air intake, improved airflow is achieved – allowing the engine to breathe more efficiently.

There are some different intake options out there from various manufacturers. 

We would recommend the HPS Intake which has impressive proven dyno gains along with a great reputation from owners. 

With this intake, you get a high quality reusable and washable air filter along with a stronger silicone intake pipe to minimise restriction pas the air filter. 

This intake also doesn’t need a tune/remap like others require so you can fit it right on and experience the benefits straight away.

Downpipe + Sports Cat

The downpipe’s main job is to ensure a smooth transition of exhaust gases from the exhaust manifold into the exhaust system, thus reducing backpressure. 

As you probably know, the catalytic converter’s job is to reduce harmful emissions and ensure the car is road legal and compliant. 

While they do their job, they are restrictive in their standard form. 

Manufacturers have to compromise on performance and adhere to noise and emission regulations and as such the standard downpipe and catalytic converter can cost you power.

Performance downpipes are designed to increase the diameter of the pipe, which leads to a reduced exhaust backpressure. This lowered backpressure allows the turbocharger to spool up more quickly, resulting in less turbo lag and improved throttle response.

Many performance downpipes also come with a high flow sports cat which replaces the restrictive stock catalytic converter .

This type of catalytic converter is designed to further reduce backpressure without sacrificing emission levels, allowing the engine to breathe more freely and perform at its full potential.

An alternative to a sports cat is a decat which some manufacturers will also sell with the downpipe. This is a simple straight pipe that bypasses the standard catalytic converter however isn’t road legal due to it being unable to pass emission testing.

Another added benefit to these upgrades is the distinctive, sportier exhaust note that you will get. By opening up the exhaust more freely, your Mazdaspeed 3 will produce a lovely satisfying deeper sound.

We actually have an guide dedicated to the best exhaust options and products for the Mazdaspeed 3 which you can check out below.

Mazdaspeed 3 Best Exhaust Upgrades

Upgraded Intercooler

Used in conjunction with the turbo, the intercooler serves as a device to manage the temperature of the compressed air entering the engine. 

Cooling the compressed air results in higher air density, facilitating better combustion and consequently, additional power.

One of the drawbacks of the stock intercooler is the susceptibility to heat soak. 

This is where it starts to lose it’s cooling efficiency and heat builds up. This is most prominent on warm days or under hard driving where you are on boost a lot. 

This excess heat reduces the effectiveness of the intercooler, resulting in lower engine power output and less efficient combustion.

A performance intercooler combats this with a more efficient cooling design aimed at maximising performance and reducing the effects of heat soak.

The Mazdaspeed 3 comes with a top mount intercooler (TMIC) from the factory. This is useful within this particular car as the positioning of the top mounted intercooler means the air doesn’t have to travel far to reach the engine which minimises lag.

One of the most common upgrades is to install a front mounted intercooler. 

As the name suggests, these are mounted right at the front of the car behind the bumper and typically contain a larger core size with the ability for better cooling capacity. Being placed further away from the engine, front mounted intercooler aren’t as affected by the heat of the engine bay either. 

There are aftermarket options for both a top mounted intercooler and a front mounted intercooler.

So which one should you go for?

For maximum power, we would recommend getting a quality front mount intercooler which leaves lots of scope for adding power.

However, if you aren’t planning on adding large amounts of power (300-350bhp) to the car and are just thinking of going with a remap and a couple of bolt on mods then the top mount intercooler should do the job. 

How you drive will should also be taken into account.

If you like long hard driving sessions or taking your Mazdaspeed 3 to the track, then a front mount intercooler is definitely recommended. 

Corksport Top Mounted Intercooler

For the Mazdaspeed 3 

AIRTEC Front Mounted Intercooler

For the Mazdaspeed 3 


A remap or tune is a fantastic way to extract power from your Mazdaspeed 3 at a small cost.

As with many turbo’d cars that respond well to tuning, a remap is the best value for money modification you can often do. 

With a remap alone on a healthy engine and healthy turbo, you can achieve gains of 40bhp taking the car to near 300bhp!

The power gains from a remap will be even higher when combined with the other upgrades mentioned in this article such as an exhaust, intake and intercooler. 

If you are planning fitting physical modifications, then have them fitted to the car prior to remapping. This will allow your tuner to give your Mazda a custom remap tailored exactly for the particular performance parts you have fitted. 

Try stay away from generic flash maps, especially if you have performance parts fitted to the car. A custom remap on a rolling road/dyno tailored to your car will provide more reliable and impressive results. 


Upgrading your MazdaSpeed 3 with coilovers can significantly enhance both the performance and visual appeal of the car.

One of the primary benefits of coilovers is the significant improvement in handling.

The stiffer spring rates and adjustability provide more excellent stability during high-speed cornering, reducing body roll and increasing grip. This leads to enhanced control, which is particularly useful for spirited driving or track use.

A coilover system also provides height adjustment capabilities that allow for fine-tuning to your preferred ride height and helping lower the centre of gravity.

When buying coilovers, it’s important to think about how you use the car.

Certain coilovers are designed specifically for track use or high performance driving and as such sacrifice some of the comforts of the OEM suspension. 

In reality, the majority of coilovers will sacrifice comfort to a small degree over the OEM suspension due to their stiffer nature but how much will depend on the nature of the coilovers and the quality of them. 

Bilstein do a superb set of coilovers that are great for everyday driving.

If you are just wanting to lower the car slightly and are on a budget, then you can look at lowering springs as opposed to coilovers.

This is wiser than buying a cheap quality coilover set that will be more hassle than it’s worth.

Bilstein Coilovers

For the Mazdaspeed 3

Tein S Tech Lowering Springs

For the Mazdaspeed 3

Rear Sway Bar/Anti-Roll Bar

Front wheel drive cars like the Mazdaspeed 3 have a propensity for understeer due to the fact that the front wheels are responsible for both steering and propulsion.

This can make them sometimes frustrating to control during spirited driving or high-speed cornering.

One way to improve the handling of the car is by installing a stiffer rear anti-roll bar. This modification can significantly enhance the car’s cornering capabilities, and reduces body roll. 

By increasing the stiffness of the rear anti-roll bar, it helps to increase the rear wheel’s tendency to lose grip before the front wheels. This behaviour reduces understeer and improves the overall handling balance of the car.

Additionally, the reduced body roll enables the tires to maintain better contact with the road surface. 

Whiteline offer an adjustable rear sway bar for the Mazdaspeed 3.

Under normal day to day driving conditions you likely won’t notice a difference with this upgrade. You will only notice the benefits of this when the car is pushed near the limit on a spirited driving session or on a race track/autocross event. 

Adjustable Sway Bar/Anti Roll Bar

Mazdaspeed 3

Rear Motor Mount

Upgrading the rear motor mount is a common upgrade often done by enthusiast owners who drive their MazdaSpeed 3 hard.

A common issue with the stock mount is that they can become weak and soft over time due to age and wear. 

With worn mounts, the engine can move too much during gear changes, leading to a sloppy or vague shift feel. With a stiffer mount, shifts become more crisp and precise, improving both driver confidence and overall driving enjoyment.

In addition, an uprated rear motor mount can also prevent wheel hop. 

Wheel hop is a common problem in front-wheel-drive cars like the MazdaSpeed 3. It happens when the tires lose and then regain traction in quick succession. The driven wheels struggle to maintain a firm grip on the surface, causing them to skip or ‘hop’ across the road surface.

There are a few motor mounts to choose from with varying stiffness. 

For performance based driving such as track days or autocross, then a stiffer mount will be preferable. 

For a daily driver, then a slightly softer mount will be better for comfort. 

It’s worth noting that regardless of what aftermarket mount you go for, there will likely be a “bed in” period. During this time, you will notice more intense vibrations from the car, particularly when the car is stopped and idling. 

This tends to go away after a while as the mount starts to settle in. 

The motor mounts that are on the stiffer side for motorsport purposes will introduce more vibration to the cabin, even after the bedding in period so it’s important to get a balance of comfort and performance from the mount if your Mazda is your daily driver. 

The Damond Motorsports rear motor mount is a popular choice among owners.

Damond Motorsport Rear Motor Mount

For the Mazdaspeed 3

Finishing Thoughts

As we wrap up our journey into the world of MazdaSpeed 3 performance mods, it’s important to consider your goals and what you want to get out of modding your car.

If you are just wanting a little more straight line speed, then a simple remap may be sufficient. 

If you are wanting to get as much power as possible without upgrading the turbo, then an intake, intercooler, exhaust and remap will get you there. Remember to have the car remapped after you have fitted the other mods!

If you are considering tracking your Mazdaspeed 3, then coilovers and a rear motor mount upgrade is a wise choice to improve the handling.

Whatever way you decide to go, there is a good range of aftermarket parts for this car that leaves you with lots of ways to keep the car entertaining and increasing your smiles per mile.

Happy modding!