The LA Auto Show may not have officially started just yet, but manufacturer’s are quick to get their information to market. Of particular note to Australian readers is the reveal of the new Mazda3. Over 28,000 of Mazda’s well regarded mid-size 3 models have been sold in Australia so far this year, making the car a major player in its segment. Mazda will be hoping the new model will find as much favour with local buyers.
All the expected improvements have been made over the previous generation, with a higher level of standard equipment, improved performance and considered environmental attributes. There’s quite a lengthy press release from Mazda’s United States marketing department below, and there’s a couple of nifty points to highlight.
The new exterior design has a slippery drag coefficient of 0.29 Cd, which Mazda claims is one of the lowest in class. A nice fundamental benefit to fuel economy, if nothing else. The new Mazda family face, as adopted to the Mazda3, has a bit of a quirky look, but overall the new look is a definite evolutionary step. For the most part, the car looks quite smart. However, the extroverted front guard does look a little out of place, especially when viewing the awkward juxtaposition of creases where the front quarter-panel meets the front doors.
Bringing a touch of Japanese gadgetry to the interior is the neat interactive interior ambient lighting. From the media release, “Upon entry, illumination rises in intensity in a programmed manner. Occupants are welcomed by foot-well and door-handle lamps. Next, instrument cluster, centre stack, audio and climate controls brighten. When a driver or front seat occupant touches an audio or A/C switch, a change in illumination acknowledges that the command has been received.” A bit of a gimmick, but also pretty cool.
More pics and words after the jump.
Mazda at the 2008 LA Auto Show: New-generation Mazda3 Four-Door Sedan
The sports compact that delivers exhilarating driving pleasure
Developed in line with Mazda’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom philosophy of engineering vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying to own, and environmentally responsible, the new-generation Mazda3 is one of the most anticipated product launches at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The popular Mazda3 – the company’s best-selling vehicle worldwide – arrives as a fully-reengineered, redesigned second-generation compact sedan providing:
- A richer, more dynamic exterior design
- Heightened driving enjoyment with improved performance in all areas
- Progressive environmental and safety features
- A higher level of standard and optional equipment
- A level of sophistication above that available from any other car in the segment
The new-generation Mazda3 is perfectly positioned for the rapidly changing auto market. It offers a mix of quality, styling, power, dynamics and fit and finish that hits the bulls-eye for today’s customers. In typical Mazda fashion, Mazda3 will offer standard and optional equipment simply not found on other cars in this class – exactly what buyers looking for more value and less bulk want.
This new-generation Mazda3 stands on tall shoulders: the first-generation Mazda3 earned
90 major awards and achieved a 1.8-million sales during its five years serving customers all over the world. One in three Mazdas sold is a Mazda3. Even at the end of its build life, the first-generation Mazda3 continued to earn accolades as a leading consumer magazine recently named it one of the most reliable compact sedans money can buy.
Mazda3 Program Manager Yoshiyuki Maeda established ambitious goals for Mazda’s most popular car line: “We were determined to advance the Zoom-Zoom driving experience to new heights because that unique feeling lies at the very heart of Mazda. On the heels of the original Mazda3’s success, we aimed to again exceed the expectations of customers all over the world by a wide margin. This meant providing drivers with a sense of exhilaration whether they were in motion, seated in the Mazda3’s cockpit, or enjoying its appearance from outside.”
On what it takes to develop a true “world car”, Maeda added; “the development process began with careful study and identification of the features and performance qualities that would be needed. That initial phase ended with the conclusion that every driving characteristic was eligible for improvement to reach our Zoom-Zoom goals. Mazda engineering and R&D departments in Japan, Europe, and the US all contributed to the Mazda3’s renewal effort and the development of the company’s new world car.”
Recognisable as a Mazda3 with more expressive and dynamic features
Chief designer Kunihiko Kurisu’s mission was to remain faithful to the Mazda3’s existing visual identity while evolving its appearance with richer, bolder design strokes. Infusing each new model with more emotional aesthetics is a longstanding Mazda tradition.
The key Mazda3 exterior design highlights are:
- A move toward a more unified Mazda global “family face”
- A reinforced frontal identity which integrates the lower air intake with a more emphatic and recognisable five-point grille
- To stress power and dynamism, major design elements focus on or flow toward the vehicle’s central axis. At the front, fascia lines converge on the centre-point at the bottom of the grille. At the rear, the decklid’s surface has a distinctive centre crease
- The compact cabin, high deck surfaces, and flowing C-pillar features were inspired by the classic coupe profile, as seen on Mazda6
- Bonnet and side surfaces shaped to reflect light and physical surroundings
- Subtle wedge-shaped and curving side character lines shared with other Mazda models give the Mazda3 a strong sense of impending motion – like a predator poised to strike
- A new Adaptive Front Lighting System with self-levelling Bi-Xenon headlamps has been added as standard on Grand Touring models. The Mazda3 is the first compact offered for sale in the US with such an advanced lighting system
- Exterior design elements contribute to the car’s function by minimising aerodynamic drag and lift while providing the powertrain, chassis, and interior with adequate air flow for cooling and climate control
- To supplement the four-door sedan introduced at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, a five-door hatchback Mazda3 will arrive later
High quality, sophisticated and sporty
Inside, the new-generation Mazda3 offers a sporty, refined cabin. The dash sweeps tautly and dramatically from its centre to the cabin’s sidewalls. The large gauge cluster and centre stack are positioned to tightly link the driver to the car’s instruments and controls.
The slant of the instrument panel optimises operating efficiency while providing an attractive focal point. Range of motion studies helped position all controls at an ideal reach. Key knobs and switches are positioned at the same level as the steering wheel and the shifter. The interior of the new-generation Mazda3 is based on our Human Machine Interface concept.
All the information a driver needs is readily available in one concentrated area that minimises lapses of concentration on the road ahead. A Multi-Information Display is positioned high on the centre of the instrument panel to further minimise distraction. Navigation, audio, and trip computer information is provided in this handy and easy-to-view location.
Front seat cushions have been extended by more than 2cm to provide improved thigh support. Backrests are 3.5cm taller and re-contoured for improved driving posture. For the higher grade models, upper side bolsters have been canted inward for heightened torso restraint during aggressive cornering.
A three-position memory function has been added to cars equipped with power seats – another first for the segment, and not offered at any price on any competitors’ compact car. Upon approach to the car, the left-front seat automatically adjusts to the settings chosen by up to three different drivers by recognising the code of the key fob.
To provide a top-quality cockpit appearance, the number of parting lines is minimised and soft-touch surfaces show an elegant grained texture. An interactive lighting system enhances the cabin’s ambience and sense of tranquility.
Upon entry, illumination rises in intensity in a programmed manner. Occupants are welcomed by foot-well and door-handle lamps. Next, instrument cluster, centre stack, audio and climate controls brighten. When a driver or front seat occupant touches an audio or A/C switch, a change in illumination acknowledges that the command has been received.
Dual-zone automatic air-conditioning is an available Mazda3 option. Other special features that distinguish this car from mundane compact sedans are: a Bose premium surround sound system with 10 speakers, connectivity for mobile phones and portable media players, a dock for iPods, and Sirius satellite radio.
An advanced keyless entry system includes push-button engine starting. The options list includes rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, leather upholstery and heated seats.
Overall, the details included in the new Mazda3 contribute to the sense of quality in the car. This is a vehicle that offers equipment, fit and finish simply not found in other vehicles in this price range and class, and helps perfectly position Mazda3 for buyers considering a way to spend less and get more in this new economic climate.
POWER TO GO
Spirited powertrains engineered for Maximum Zoom-Zoom, minimal consumption
The MZR 2.0-litre four-in-line engine delivers 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 135 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. Aluminium block and head construction saves weight. In the interests of power and efficiency, four valves per cylinder are operated by dual overhead camshafts.
The new MZR 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is borrowed from the larger all-new 2009 Mazda6. It shares the same construction features of the 2.0-litre engine while upping output to 167 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 168 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. Both engines employ advanced electronic throttle actuation. Mazda’s exclusive torque base control technology provides a highly linear acceleration response to every change of throttle pedal pressure.
A slick-shifting five-speed and six-speed manual transmission as well as a five-speed electronically controlled Sport-AT automatic transmission are available depending on the model. Sport-AT offers enthusiastic drivers the control of manual gear engagement with the convenience and comfort of a conventional automatic.
Fuel economy is exemplary and was key to the vehicle’s development. The Mazda3 with
2.0-litre engine achieves 25 mpg in city driving with the manual transmission and 24 mpg with the automatic. The highway mileage with the 2.0-litre engine is 33 mpg with either transmission. The Mazda3 with 2.5-litre engine also tops 20 mpg in all conditions. Equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, its city rating is 21 mpg, rising to 22 mpg with the5-speed automatic. The highway rating is 29 mpg with either transmission.
As the new Mazda3 is larger in every dimension – meeting the requests and needs of customers – Mazda engineers worked hard to deliver a vehicle that offers fuel economy on-par with the outgoing car.
To refine the acoustic qualities of the Mazda3 powertrains, extra attention was paid to tuning each engine’s intake and exhaust system. Resonance chambers were implemented to quiet certain sound frequencies while reinforcing others, achieving a well mannered yet sporty voice during acceleration. The Mazda3 2.5-litre engine is equipped with dual tailpipes and specially tuned mufflers to reduce mid-range boom and objectionable high-frequency noise at high rpm.
Mazda3s certified to U.S. Federal exhaust emission standards are equipped with catalytic converters employing advanced single nanotechnology. It is used to embed individual particles of precious metals, which are less than five nanometers in diameter, into the catalyst base material. This new development enables Mazda to reduce the amount of expensive precious metals such as platinum and palladium by 70 to 90 percent without impairing catalyst performance. The catalyst is an important part of Mazda’s efforts to reduce reliance on limited resources.
Increased structural integrity and reduced aerodynamic drag contribute to new-generation Mazda3’s poise and performance
The current-generation Mazda6 offers one of the stiffest unibody structures on any Mazda vehicle. Lessons learned in developing that car provided major strides in structural stiffness in the new Mazda3. A stiff monocoque chassis provides a smoother ride, more confident handling, and improved agility with virtually no increase in unibody weight.
Re-engineered monocoque joints and increased metal gauges in key areas help diminish the transmission of road and powertrain noise into the passenger cabin. Suspension anchor points are more substantial to provide the solid foundation needed to absorb steering and suspension forces. In addition to welded attachments, suspension towers are bonded to the surrounding unibody areas with structural adhesives.
A combination of welding and adhesives – also borrowed from Mazda6 – is also used to increase the rigidity and collision deformation resistance at door opening locations. The stiffer door design also improves the effectiveness of weather seals that block moisture and noise from the interior.
A Mazda engineering approach called Aero Flow Management was used to optimise the flow of air around and through Mazda3 body openings. Even though the front grille appears larger than before, it’s actually 20 per cent smaller to ingest only the amount of air needed for combustion and cooling. An air guide attached to the front bumper directs the flow through the radiator where it’s most useful. At high speeds, a bypass flap opens to minimise cooling fan drag.
Air flow along the Mazda3’s body sides was improved during wind tunnel testing by placing deflectors near the tyres and by carefully tuning the upper-forward corners of the cabin. Subtle refinements in the shape of the A-pillars, exterior mirrors, windshield wipers, and taillamps also contributed to the six-percent reduction in wind noise levels. The 0.29 drag coefficient (Cd) achieved by Mazda engineers is one of the lowest available in the compact class and highly beneficial to highway fuel economy.
CLASS-LEADING CHASSIS DESIGN
Subtle yet comprehensive refinements advance the compact class’s sportiest model to new heights of driving fun and function
There was no need to reinvent the Mazda3’s chassis design because the first generation achieved distinction as the best available in the compact class in terms of driving enjoyment, handling, and all around poise. Subtle and tuning changes were the order of the day.
A rubber-isolated subframe in front supports the entire powertrain, the rack-and-pinion steering system, and the lower attachments of the coil spring MacPherson strut suspension. The independent multi-link rear suspension also uses coil springs with one trailing arm, two lateral links, and one toe-control link per side. Four-wheel power disc brakes with vented rotors in front and solid rotors in back are standard equipment. Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control are available on all Mazda3s, standard on some trim levels.
To improve steering feel, the electro-hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion steering gear is now secured at three instead of two attachment locations. The additional mounting point allowed a reduction in the stiffness of the bushings that support the steering gear to diminish the vibration transmitted over rough pavement.
Resistance to body roll has been increased by recalibrating the monotube rear dampers for tighter control and by switching to a new more substantial mounting arrangement for the front and rear anti-roll bars. At the front of the new Mazda3, lower control arms, the subframe, and mount bushings are all stiffer to improve both steering response and cornering grip at the adhesion limit. A redesigned rear suspension crossmember is both lighter and significantly stiffer, also for improved handling.
The most notable change to the braking system is a new vacuum booster that provides a more reassuring response to light pedal efforts without disturbing the highly direct and linear feel inherited from the first-generation Mazda3.
Adjustments to the electronic brake force distribution programming enhance vehicle stability during mixed braking and cornering manoeuvres. Structural changes to the unibody mentioned above help improve not only the rigidity of the brakes but also their linearity during high-g stops.
The Mazda3 with 2.0-litre engine is equipped with 10.9-inch diameter front rotors and 10.4-inch diameter rear rotors while the more powerful 2.5-litre Mazda3 is fitted with 11.8-inch front and 11.0-inch rear rotors.
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE SAFETY SYSTEMS
The new Mazda3 is not only fun to drive; its high level of manoeuvrability is also the bet hedge against a collision
Providing the Mazda3 driver with a better ability to avoid a collision by steering or braking safely out of harm’s way is a fundamental aspect of Mazda’s product development. Mazda’s engineers strongly believe that the best way to help protect occupants in a crash is to engineer control systems in such a way that the crash is avoided in the first place.
Carefully tuned electro-hydraulic power steering, a highly agile suspension system, and powerful disc brakes are standard Mazda3 features. ABS, Dynamic Stability Control, and traction control are offered as optional equipment.
Also, a new Adaptive Front Lighting System with self-levelling Bi-Xenon headlamps has been added as standard on Grand Touring models. The Mazda3 is the first compact offered for sale in the US with such an advanced lighting system.
But in rare instances, a collision cannot be avoided. To cover these circumstances, all Mazda3s are constructed with a Triple-H unibody design employing efficient H-shaped steel reinforcements in the floor, side structures, and roof.
This approach to energy absorption provides crush zones that better protect occupants from the impact forces sustained during rollover, frontal, side, front-offset, angled, and rear collisions. Six airbags and active head restraints are standard equipment.
The Mazda3 also delights customers by demonstrating reduced environmental impact
Seemingly small changes can often deliver great gains. For example, the four-speed automatic transmission was switched to a five-speed in 2.0-litre Mazda3 models, and subtle aerodynamic improvements were made. The changes yielded a 3.0mpg improvement (10 per cent) in highway fuel economy.
To reduce consumption of hazardous materials, the new Mazda3 uses no lead in its fuel tank, wiring harness, or undercoating. Hexavalent chromium and cadmium have also been eliminated from the bill of materials.
The toluene emissions from a new joint sealing compound is 90-percent lower than before. Mazda’s manufacturing plants adhere to the strictest environmental standards. These are the invisible parts of Mazda’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom initiatives.
Efforts are underway to increase the scope of recyclable materials from 80 to 90-percent when a Mazda3 reaches the end of its useful life. Molded plastic parts are already labeled with ISO identification marks to facilitate sorting and recycling.
Fascias, interior trim, and the instrument panel are made of polypropylene for easy reuse in those markets that offer it. Recycled material has been used to manufacture new plastic moldings for the past four years at Mazda
* All figures and other specifications in this press kit may vary according to market. Also, data are subject to change upon homologation.