Mazda3 even prettier with four doors
Mazda left invited journalists at its various worldwide reveals of the third generation Mazda3 hatch with the quip that we'd have to wait until close to the end of the year to see what the sedan version looks like.
However, we have been able to source pictures of the new four-door version of the car, before the factory hurriedly took down the pictures which had been mistakenly placed or leaked to its Canadian website. We think it's more likely to be a leak than a mistake as it was a Canadian source that let the cat out of the bag three years ago by breaking the embargo in place for anyone else for the Shinari show car.
Like the Mazda6, released in New Zealand earlier this year, the new Mazda3 sedan is very much influenced by the Shinari using the design's Kodo, or soul of motion styling language; in Japanese the word Kodo can also mean ''heartbeat'' - the primal source of all rhythm - and, in a different way, the word can mean ''children of the drum''.
Either way, the 2014 Mazda3 four-door looks like a miniature Mazda6 sedan, and it's a much more cohesive design than previous Mazda3 models whose sedans look what they were: hatches with a boot tacked on.
The addition of the boot in the third generation model looks almost seamless, working well with what looks like a longer roofline and a pertly designed rear end with a distinctively different design flourish than the already very neatly executed hatchback version.
As we expected, the interior is the same as the five-door model, and though it hasn't been confirmed by Mazda we'd guess that the four-door body style offers similar passenger space to the hatchback's. What is certain is that the boot will be much larger because of the obviously longer rear overhang.
So far no mention of the engine range has been offered, it's expected that the sedan will be offered with the similar petrol 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel four-cylinder SkyActiv engines for the Australian and New Zealand markets, with 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. It's likely the Japanese home market will also offer a 1.5-litre tax-break engine, while in Europe, a smaller diesel engine will be needed to go with the EU's own 1.6-litre tax slot.
Worldwide sales of the sedan are expected to begin just before the end of the year with New Zealand gaining access to the four-door early in the new year.
So what do we think it looks like? We think it looks even better than the hatch, something you wouldn't have said about the first two generations of the Mazda3. That's not so say that the earlier cars were ugly in any way, it's just that the previous hatch designs were very much trend-setters with many car makers in Europe, Japan and Korea mimicking the five-door Mazda triangular rear pillar execution. The earlier sedans, by definition, did not have that pillar feature, using a more abrupt line with the booted profile, which was never as pretty as the five-doors.
Well now, the sedan is pretty and not in a generic way, it has the same voluptuous curves as the larger Mazda6 and we'd predict it will garner a larger share from the Mazda showroom than previous four-door Mazda3s, which were often viewed as fleet offerings.
Other news through from Mazda is that the company is in no hurry to build hybrids. Mazda seems to be sticking with the main principles they have adopted with their SkyActive culture and why shouldn't they with similar emissions and economy ratings to petrol-electric cars without the need for two engines (petrol and electric) and the associated pricetag.
While Mazda has hedged its bets by having an agreement with Toyota should it ever need hybrid technology, the company has so far studiously steered clear of hybrids, as according to Mazda they add unnecessary weight and complexity and, according to some reports, are not as green as they would want you to believe.
Mazda is committed to extracting as much life and efficiency from ‘conventional' petrol and diesel engines while it is economical to do so, while working on making their ancillaries more efficient and less of a drain on the entire power system.
While downsizing can be an effective method for reducing emissions, adding an electric boost often merely offsets the loss in power from reduced displacement, said a Mazda spokesman, adding that the company wants to make sure their engines are optimally designed, to make better effect of the benefits of combined battery power when, and if, it eventually does go to hybrid power.
Also, it appears that pure EVs are not interesting for the brand yet, despite having created an all-electric variant of the Mazda2 which has been seen at various auto shows, where it gained positive reactions, but not the kind of ‘wow' responses that would be needed for a relatively small car company like Mazda to change its mind on EVs.