A high-ranking Mazda executive has suggested the Japanese firm is indeed considering building a Mazda3 hot hatch to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, despite earlier talk suggesting such a vehicle was not on the cards.

Speaking to Autocar, Mazda3 programme manager Kota Beppu said he was keen to introduce a “hyper” version of the fourth-generation hatchback.

“I’m a car guy, so I myself want to drive a high-performance Mazda3 ... I’ll do my best,” he said, adding “most developed” countries had already shown an interest in such a product, according to the British publication.

Autocar added the hot Mazda3 was expected to receive the green light before 2021, with the firm’s turbocharged 2,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine – which makes 169 kW in the flagship CX-5 in Japan and 186 kW in the Mazda6 – likely to provide the urge.

“The Mazda3 is a light vehicle, so if there is too much power and we keep it as front-wheel drive, there is the torque steer phenomenon happening,” Beppu said, suggesting an all-wheel-drive arrangement could be on the cards.

He went on to say a hotter Mazda3 would need “to be responsible and friendly … more friendly than a Golf GTI,” while still being “fast”.

If a high-performance Mazda3 does indeed see the light of day, it’ll be interesting to see whether the brand resurrects the MPS badge, with the head of the company saying late in 2018 “we are not planning for MPS in the future”...