There’s little doubt about the 256bhp Mazda3 MPS’ main appeal in a sector awash with super-hatches. At £23,995 the MPS scores well in the value-for-money stakes against the £23,495 246bhp Ford Focus ST – itself something of a bargain, the £26,995 276bhp Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR and the £25,560 207bhp Volkswagen Golf GTI.

And now Mazda has increased its visual appeal with a selection of tasty upgrades.

The upgraded Mazda3 MPS retains the previous model’s handling and performance, but now features a new gunmetal finish to its 18-inch alloy wheels, whilst the inner roof spoiler (beneath the unique MPS wing), door mirror housings and lower rear bumper trim are finished in a sleek Black Mica finish.

The restyled MPS features a more dynamic, assertive look, that sets it apart from the rest of the Mazda3 line-up with its distinctive bonnet air-intake, large rear wing with the new inner spoiler.

It also comes with Bi-Xenon headlights, with a swivel-type Adaptive Front Light System (AFS), front fog lamps, a radar-based rear vehicle monitoring (RVM) system and larger, 320mm diameter ventilated front disc brakes.

Mazda’s 2.3-litre MZR DISI Turbo petrol engine remains unchanged, which delivers 256bhp and 280lb-ft (380Nm) of torque, driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential. In the upgraded MPS, gear ratios are now more widely spaced and its dual exhaust pipes deliver a more sporty rasp at low revs, but reduce noise by 10dB at engine speeds over 5,000rpm.

The upgraded Mazda3 MPS is available in a choice of four metallic/mica/pearlescent colours at no additional cost, including Aluminium Silver, Black Mica, Crystal White Pearlescent and Velocity Red.

The new line-up of seven Mazda3 models, including the MPS, goes on sale in the UK from this month, priced from £15,995 for the entry-level 1.6-litre MZR Tamura up to £23,995 for the 2.3-litre MPS.