The MX-3 came with three engine options: a 1.5L I4 (only found in the Autozam AZ-3), a 1.6L I4 and a 1.8L V6. The 1.6L was available in two versions, an 88hp (66kW) SOHC/16-valve B6-ME unit which powered 1992 and 1993 models, or a 106hp (79kW) DOHC/16-valve B6-D unit which was found in 1994 and later models. The Japanese market DOHC/16-valve B5-ZE produced 115hp (86kW) and the most powerful DOHC 24-valve V6 K8-DE produced 130hp (97kW). All were available with an optional 4-speed automatic transmission, depending upon the market.
The V6 MX-3 had a top speed of approximately 210km/h (130mph). The MX-3 GS could accelerate from 0-60mph (97km/h) in 8.5 seconds, and could travel a quarter mile in 16.6 seconds. With a turning rate of 0.89 g (8.7 m/s²), its handling capabilities were one of the best in its class.
The V6 engine was impressive for the time, belonging to the Mazda K-series, which were used in a range of Mazda vehicles. These engines were designed to be smooth, very long lasting, and hold a high torque across the RPM range. These engines used a variable length intake manifold (VLIM), in order to provide optimal torque using intake resonance. Mazda called their system on the MX-3 the "Variable Resonance Induction System" (VRIS). This engine had a 7000 rpm redline, and a 7800 rpm fuel cutoff. It is rumored that Porsche designers helped to create the K series engine.
The MX-3 used Mazda's proprietary Twin-Trapezoidal Link (TTL) for the rear suspension. It passively allowed the rear wheels to turn slightly in order to enhance handling. It has been used on a range of Mazda vehicles, providing a smooth ride, yet delivering responsive handling while minimizing body lean.
In 1993, Mazda Canada offered a limited Special Edition model of its Mazda MX-3 GS to celebrate the company's 25th year in Canada. At the same time, Mazda USA offered a similar model as a Special Edition as well. Only a total of 2,000 Special Edition models were supposedly made. The special edition MX-3 featured the V6 engine, leather interior (including seats, steering wheel and shift knob), heated seats (Canada only), and custom Enkei manufactured 15 inch alloy wheels. Most special edition models came in the color Raspberry Metallic; however, there were also Blaze Red, Brilliant Black, and Laguna Blue colors available for the Special Edition.