Mazda has lifted the covers on its new second-generation Mazda3 at the Detroit Auto Show. And while there is more than a hint of the â€˜happy wide-mouthed frogâ€™ in that striking nose, the lines work. More to the point, those fleet, nicely-proportioned curves should muscle-up very tidily when Mazda engineers wring their magic on the SP and MPS versions.
Of course, the new Mazda3 has big boots to fill. The model it replaces is a cracker and has garnered a strong following among keen drivers for its affordable dynamic capabilities and sharp style. For the new â€˜3â€™, Mazda claims improved performance, refinement, and fresh features, while retaining its essential â€˜sports carâ€™ soul.
Offering two bodystyles, three trim levels, and four separate power-train options, the new Mazda3 is designed to build on the success of the model it replaces. That would appear to make sense: one out of every three Mazdas sold worldwide is a Mazda3. In the US market, it accounted for 44 percent of Mazdaâ€™s total sales volume.
According to David Matthew, Mazda3â€™s vehicle line manager, â€œThis product has earned its stripes as a high quality and exciting sport compact. Mazda3â€™s interior design and execution goes beyond Japanese competitors to rival more expensive European brands,â€ he said.
Like all of Mazdaâ€™s current lineup, the Nagare (â€œFlowâ€) design language is clearly present in the styling of the 2009 Mazda3, with sharp lines and sumptuous curves coming together effortlessly inside and out. Weâ€™ve reviewed the finer points of the new Mazda3 a number of times in the past few months, so we wonâ€™t rehash old news in this post.
The all-new Mazda3 is available with a choice of engines: a 110kW 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine, and a 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine, upgraded from the previous 2.3-litre capacity and producing 124kW. Combined with the six-speed manual transmission borrowed from the Mazda6, one wonders: could we be looking at a Mazda3 SP25?
While the six-speed is available on the 2.5 litre models, the 2.0 litre makes do with a five speed manual. Both options however offer a five speed auto.
Other features are:
- Advanced keyless entry system
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Extended front cushions for improved thigh support
- Reshaped and extended seatbacks for more lumbar support and shoulder support.
- Optional eight-way electric driverâ€™s seat with memory
- Premium five-channel surround sound BOSE Â® Centerpoint audio system (with noise cancellation technology)
- Black instrument panel with pewter-painted accents
- Multi-Information Display (MID) for trip data, vehicle functions and MP-3 and i-Pod program information
- Hands-free BluetoothÂ® capability
- Electro-hydraulic power steering (with improved steering precision and feel)
- Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, EBD and brake assist
- 16-inch alloys (2.0 litre models),17-inch alloys (2.5 litre models)
- Recalibrated front struts and rear monotube dampers
- Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control as standard on most models
- Adaptive front-lighting containing self-leveling bi-xenon headlamps
- Reinforced â€˜triple-H unibody designâ€™ with six airbags, active head restraints and side-curtain air bags also available
- Improved drag coefficient (from 0.30 to 0.29); and six-percent reduction in wind noise
- Worldâ€™s-first single-nano-particle technology (reducing the amount of precious metals used in catalytic converters).
Jordan Meadows, Mazda North American Operationsâ€™ design manager, said, â€œThe new Mazda3 provided us an opportunity to translate new design cues into the reality of a car which Mazda customers can own, drive, and enjoy.â€
With the new 3, Mazda set out to create a purposely youthful and outgoing design. Senior designer Carlos Salaff said, "We always strive to push our exterior, to stretch what is considered normal."
Ok, thatâ€™s what they think, but what's your verdict? Has Mazda succeeded with the new 3?