Described as the “dawn of a new era,” the redesigned model is an important vehicle for Mazda as it is their first car to use the Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture and the new Skyactiv-X petrol engine. The latter features a Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI) system which promises to combine the best attributes of both petrol and diesel engines.
Putting those items aside for a moment, the Mazda3 has a new interpretation of the company’s Kodo design language. The automaker says it has an extremely simple “single motion” to its overall form while also being elegant and expressive.
Both the sedan and hatchback feature an evolutionary design, but the sedan is the real star of the show as it adopts a number of styling cues from the Vision Coupe concept. Starting up front, we can see a prominent grille with chromed wings which flow into slender headlights. Moving further back, there’s flowing bodywork and a dynamic greenhouse. The rear is also pretty sporty as it features an integrated trunk spoiler, slim taillights and a dual exhaust system.
While the exterior styling is evolutionary, the interior changes are more significant as cabin is more upscale than its predecessor. Mazda was tight-lipped on specifics, but the company adopted a “less is more” approach which resulted a minimalist design.
Key highlights include a three-spoke steering wheel, a freestanding 8.8-inch infotainment system and an upholstery dashboard pad that resides above a generous swath of chrome trim. Mazda also noted the interior parts have been given their own unique grain which is “designed to express the richness and warmth of genuine leather.”
Another unique feature is the gearbox surround which “incorporates a laser-engraved black layer covered by a second clear layer to present a glossy black finish with a look of deep transparency.” In essence, it’s a classy version of gloss black trim.
Among the other changes are an improved telescopic steering wheel that now features an additional 10 mm (0.4 inches) of movement. The center armrest has also been lengthened, while the cup holders have now been relocated in front of the shifter.
Under the hood, there will be an assortment of different engines depending on the market. Mazda didn’t mention specifications, but confirmed there will be 1.5-, 2.0- and 2.5-liter petrol engines as well as a 1.8-liter diesel. The company didn’t mention the displacement of its Skyactiv-X engine, but noted it will be paired with a new M Hybrid system that “supports greater gains in fuel economy, and achieves higher levels of driving pleasure and environmental friendliness.”
On the dynamics front, the Mazda3 will be offered with an improved i-Activ all-wheel drive system which works in conjunction with the company’s new G-Vectoring Control Plus system that recently debuted on the 2019 CX-5. The car also adopts a new suspension which uses MacPherson struts in the front and a newly developed torsion beam setup in the rear.
Mazda says these changes and other changes enable the car to accelerate, turn and brake in a way that “feels natural and intuitive, like a tool you have been using for many years.”
Moving onto safety, the Mazda3 offers an assortment of driver assistance systems such as Front Cross Traffic Alert which uses side radars to detect approaching vehicles at blind intersections. The car can also be outfitted with a Cruising & Traffic Support system which can automatically accelerate, brake and steer the car during traffic jams.
Last but not least, engineers developed a new Driver Monitoring system which uses an infrared camera to monitor the driver and determine if they’re drowsy or distracted. If the system determines the driver has become “dangerous,” it will sound an audible alert.