The new Mazda3 sedan and hatch deliver beautiful design and exhilarating dynamics in two very distinct packages
As the first model from Mazda’s next-generation range, the new Mazda3 is a special car. More than simply a means of transportation, Mazda wants it to enrich owners’ lives, to serve as an inspiration and empowerment to a more fulfilling lifestyle. Program Manager Kota Beppu says: “With the Mazda3, we want to enable owners to be their ideal self.” A not insubstantial task.
In order for people to express their true selves, Beppu recognised that two cars, each with a unique personality, was the answer. “This was a challenge,” says Mazda3 Chief Designer Yasutake Tsuchida. “The four-door sedan customer is looking for a more sleek, elegant image, while the hatch customer is looking for a sportier design and more emotion. So we paid attention to what customers desire and maximised the appeal of each, to give birth to a truly compelling design. Both have to embrace Mazda’s Japanese design aesthetic to a greater level than ever before.”
Creating two cars is not the easy option, but to meet Mazda’s ambitious goal this no-compromise route is the only way. Ally this approach to new Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture, which makes driving the Mazda3 feel as natural as walking, and you have a game-changing car.
The new Mazda3 delivers a deeper connection between car and driver compared with the outgoing model, itself one of the best-driving cars in its class. According to Tsuchida, the five-door hatchback is more “free spirited” in style with a powerful, seductive look. The sedan speaks of elegance and refinement. Both celebrate the latest Kodo – Soul of Motion design language. Tsuchida explains: “We are trying to pursue beauty through subtraction and beauty through purity. You can see the very simple form, but when light strikes the car, it’s clear that the shapes are rich and intriguing.”
USING REFLECTIONS CREATES A LASTING BOND BETWEEN CUSTOMER AND CAR, ACCORDING TO TSUCHIDA. “THE FORM IS SIMPLE BUT THE REFLECTION IS COMPLEX AND INTRIGUING,” HE SAYS. “WHEN YOU SEE THE CAR IN THE MORNING, YOU SEE ONE EXPRESSION. THEN IN THE EVENING IT IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT.”
Tsuchida is trying to create a long-term bond with the customer through distinctive design that is also subtle and simple, born out of Japan’s centuries-old appreciation of nature. And he has history with the Mazda3, as his first job at Mazda was working on the exterior of the original model. He recalls: “If you go back to the 1980s or ’90s, we were trying to find our DNA with cars like the 323F. If you look at our hatchbacks, they all have a unique rear. That’s what I would say is our identity. It’s also my favourite part of the new Mazda3.”
Mazda’s driving philosophy isn’t built purely on speed and sportiness, but something that’s harder to measure. It’s about always feeling “at one” with the car, and a more natural and relaxing driving experience, according to Beppu. To achieve this Mazda has developed the new Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture, based on what Beppu calls a “human-centric” approach to design. The engine, suspension, seats, tyres and other components must work in harmony. Enormous effort went into seating design and comfort, steering wheel position (now with extra adjustment) and pedal placement.
Every detail matters, so that the driver can concentrate on the drive. The wipers, for example, are housed beneath the bonnet: this improves visibility and makes for a cleaner design. Visibility is further improved by “pulling back” the A-pillar. And the instrumentation and dashboard have been simplified, to deliver only the necessary information to the driver and allow them to focus on driving enjoyment. Beppu describes the cabin as “the ultimate private space”. The quality of the materials and components is premium, including TFT LCD instruments and a newly designed grained dashboard. Much attention has also been paid to reducing noise, vibration and harshness and to a completely re-imagined audio system.
The Skyactiv-X engine will make its debut in the Mazda3. This innovative new unit combines the best qualities of diesel and petrol engines. It’s torquey, responsive and frugal, like a good diesel. And zestful, linear and high-revving, as with a good petrol. So it’s designed to enhance driving pleasure and reduce fuel bills.
Mazda’s new SPCCI technology – for Spark Controlled Compression Ignition – uses a spark to burn the fuel-air mix (like a petrol engine) and high compression, like a diesel. In effect, the spark controls the compression ignition. This highly efficient and radical form of combustion is engineered to improve both performance and fuel economy. This new petrol unit also uses “mild hybrid” technology. Energy recovered from deceleration helps power the electrics. An electric motor improves acceleration from a standing start.
THE latest MAZDA3 IS A MODEL THAT DELIVERS UNPRECEDENTED VALUE TO CUSTOMERS, SAYS BEPPU. “THE CAR IS EQUIPPED WITH A DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED PERFORMANCE PACKAGE: DYNAMICS, NOISE REDUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY. I HOPE IT WILL BRING GREAT JOY TO CUSTOMERS’ LIVES”
Two Skyactiv-G petrol engines, of 2.0 and 2.5 litres, are also available. The units deliver strong performance and fuel economy, and reduced emissions. Cylinder deactivation on both means two of the four cylinders are shut off when power isn’t needed, boosting economy and cutting fuel costs. “Every drive will enable a driving experience like never before,” says Beppu. “I sincerely hope that this exceptional model will inspire and bring joy to customers every day.”