Third generation Mazda3 exposed

DAVE MOORE
Last updated 11:35 28/06/2013

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Mazda Motor Corporation has revealed the hatchback version of the all-new Mazda3 six months ahead of its arrival in New Zealand.

The redesigned car is the third of Mazda's new generation of products that adopt both the Kodo–Soul of Motion design theme and the full-suite of SkyActiv Technologies.

Called Mazda's sports compact car in the US, the car is said by its makers to be able to redefine driving pleasure will be launched in some markets before the end of the year and will reach New Zealand in early 2014.

The Kodo design ethic was first seen on Mazda's Shinari concept coupe design of three years ago, and though that car was rear-driven, its sweeping accelerative curves have been infused into the CX-5, Mazda6 and now the Mazda3 to good effect.

In the case of the new Mazda3, the Shinari's dramatic winged grille has evolved into a more cohesive rendering of the designs used by the other two SkyActive models so far, with the badge now mounted top-centre with its own bonnet indent, while the hatch's design now has a long nose, cab backward style that makes the latest Mazda3 adopt a much more sporting profile.

Koji Tabata, the Mazda3 Chief Designer explains the execution of the wing motif: ''The signature wing appears to be chiseled from solid metal, giving it a sculpted finish that suggests quality and depth. The tips of the wing merge into the headlamps, which are designed to resemble the sharp eyes of a predatory animal. Separating them from the turn signals, which are now positioned above the fog lamps, enhances their sleek shape.''

Andrew Clearwater, Mazda NZ's managing director, believes the third generation Mazda3 will wow Kiwi motorists.

''Thanks to the dynamic expressions of Kodo design, the Mazda3 suggests exhilarating driving at first glance. In addition, SkyActiv Technology delivers a 'jinba-ittai'experience of oneness between car and driver which deepens with every kilometre driven.''

Introduced for the first time with the third generation Mazda3 is a new car connectivity system that broadens the scope of that driving experience. The system features a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) that is designed with the highest priority placed on driving safety. A wide range of Mazda's i-ActiveSense advanced active safety technologies aid the driver in recognizing and avoiding hazards.

For New Zealand, the incoming Mazda3 will be offered in similar engine sizes as the current range, except both offerings will be SkyActive units with all the weight, energy and efficiency improvments already enjoyed by the CX-5 and Mazda6. The SkyActiv 2.0-litre option offers up to 114kW and 200Nm of torque while the larger 2.5-litre version of the power unit delivers 138kW and 250Nm.

Globally, the Mazda3 will be offering the widest SkyActiv powertrain line-up for various local market demands, and will be available with SkyActiv-G 1.5- to 2.5-litre-sized petrol engines, a SkyActive-D 2.2-litre clean diesel engine and in Japan only, as a hybrid electric vehicle.

The overall length of the hatchback remains the same at 4460mm, while the sedan - which hasn't been revealed yet - is 10mm shorter than the previous model at 4580mm. Measuring 2700mm, the wheelbases of both the hatchback and sedan have been lengthened by 60mm, while width is up by 40mm at 1795mm and the overall height is 15mm lower at 1455mm. The car's front overhang is shortened by moving the front wheels' axis further forward, while the size of the largest tyres is increased from 205/50R17 to 215/45R18. Despite the resulting longer wheelbase, the Mazda3 has a compact turning radius of 5.3m.

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Since the launch of the first generation in 2003, more than 3.5 million Mazda3s have been sold around the world.  It is the best-selling model in the Mazda lineup and accounts for a third of the company's annual global sales.  Previous generations of the Mazda3 were acclaimed in markets around the world for their emotive design, responsive and enjoyable driving, environmental and safety performance, and excellent craftsmanship.  The model has received 136 awards globally including four in New Zealand.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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