Since its launch in 2003, the current Mazda3 has sold nearly 1.8 million vehicles in over 100 countries and has won more than 90 global motoring awards to date. Not surprisingly, the Mazda3 accounts for almost one in three Mazdas sold, so the success of the latest car is vital to the Japanese carmaker.
Known as the Axela in home market, the new Mazda3 is the first fully redesigned version of the car in five years and features a range of new and efficient engines plus a more dynamic look that picks up the carmaker’s corporate face first seen on the 2009 Mazda6. Chief designer Kunihiko Kurisu’s mission was to remain faithful to the Mazda3’s existing visual identity while evolving its appearance with richer, bolder design strokes.
Some of the key details include an aggressive front that integrates the lower air intake with a more emphatic and instantly recognizable five-point grille. The fascia lines converge on the center-point at the bottom of the grille. At the rear, the decklid’s surface has a distinctive center crease.
Areas that engineers focused on while developing the car include the handling and dynamics, fuel efficiency, and vehicle weight. The new car also features a class-leading 0.29 coefficient of drag.
The new Mazda3 will initially be launched with two new engines, a 148hp 2.0L four-cylinder with 135lb-ft of torque and a 167hp 2.5L unit with 168lb-ft of torque. Both engines employ advanced electronic throttle actuation. Mazda’s exclusive torque base control technology provides a highly linear acceleration response to every change of throttle pedal pressure.
A slick-shifting five-speed and six-speed manual transmission as well as a five-speed electronically controlled Sport-AT automatic transmission are available depending on the model. The most frugal model is the 2.0L unit equipped with a manual transmission, and it is rated at 25mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway. Fuel economy with the automatic transmission comes in at 24mpg and 33mpg respectively.
Some premium features of the car not normally found in this segment include optional self-leveling bi-xenon headlamps, a multi-function display, satnav, electronically adjustable seats with memory functions, an ambient lighting system, dual-zone air conditioning, a 10-speaker Bose stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod connection and Sirius satellite radio. Other options include rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, leather upholstery, and heated seats.
Further down the track, Mazda will introduce a high-performance Mazdaspeed (MPS) model, which you can see spy shots of by clicking here.