Quite the reveal for the brand.
Japanese marque Mazda have today unveiled their all-new, thoroughly-reworked Mazda3 saloon & hatch, with the duo making their in-the-metal debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show, in the US. The two cars represent a huge step forwards for Mazda, as it’s the first production model to feature all-new SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture, as well as the SkyActiv-X compression-ignition powertrain.
Design-wise, it’s clear to see that the two cars are heavily-inspired by the Kai concept from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. There’s been a significant reduction in pronounced character lines, with the carmaker instead going for complex surfacing, particularly down the flanks, where Mazda claims the complex play of curves results in a ‘vortex’ element between the front and rear wheel arches.
The face is perhaps less revolutionary, bearing broadly the same fascia as what we’ve come to expect from the brand, particularly from the larger Mazda6, with the two slim headlights underlined by a bar that then stretches to outline the lower-edge of the grille. That bar can be had in either chrome or matte black it seems, depending on trim & specification.
But it’s at the rear where there’s significant difference over the 3rd-generation model it replaces. The taillights, while similar in overall shape, now feature ring elements within them, a direct link to the Kai concept from a couple of years ago. Gone are the full-width chrome bars that used to be a feature in nearly-all Mazda rumps, with the company instead going for complex surfacing instead. Notable here is how Mazda’s gone about designing the upper-half of the rears: The hatch features a C-pillar that the CarShowroom office describes in multiple variations of the word ‘enormous,’ while the saloon has a sloping roofline that meets a pert tail, which includes the subtlest of ducktail spoilers, which we think looks rather neat.
The same way Mazda’s cleaned up the exterior, they’ve also taken the proverbial featherduster to the cabin too. Less is more they say, and that’s evident by the design of the cabin. The dash is new to the brand, and very reductive in appearance. Sitting proudly in the centre of it all is the 8.8-inch touchscreen, which continues to utilise a rotary knob and buttons mounted on the central tunnel as its main point of input. Ahead of that sits the gearlever, which in manual cars is notably higher and further forwards for ease of use, while the cupholders sit ahead of that.
There are no traditional central air conditioning points either, with the front passenger now getting two vents to stay sufficiently cool. The driver gets their own pair of vents too, designed neatly to flank the instrument binnacle, which to this writers’ mind means cold hands when driving on hot days. While the aesthetic is neater, Mazda says they’ve also aimed to keep it quieter in here too, with NVH levels significantly improved over the outgoing car, thanks to that new architecture and a ‘two-wall’ structure that leaves space between the carpeting on the floor and the body of the vehicle itself.
There are exciting things under the bonnet, too. While the 3 will continue to offer SkyActiv-G and SkyActiv-D engines (petrol & diesel respectively), it’ll also offer Mazda’s all-new SkyActiv-X compression-ignition engine, which will be supported by the marque’s M-Hybrid mild-hybrid setup. Mazda’s played very coy with the details on the matter, and have been tight-lipped around the 3’s launch event, so unfortunately that’s about as far as we can go with this.
Being a family proposition at its core, the Mazda3 will come with Mazda’s full gamut of safety features under the i-ActivSense umbrella of features. This comes with upgrades too, like the Driver Monitoring system that uses an infrared camera & LEDs to observe the condition of the driver (like position of the face, eyes, and mouth), and adjusting itself accordingly (if it senses the driver is dangerously tired, the car will increase the sensitivity & response times of its collision-avoidance systems). This is of course in addition to cross traffic alert (front & rear), active cruise control with traffic-jam function, and so on.
Mazda Australia has released no specifics on the new 3 that’ll be offered here, and went only as far as to say that the new model will be here in both hatchback & saloon forms, sometime towards the middle of 2019.
Interested yet? What model would you go for, and would you give the new compression-ignition mild-hybrid system a go?