Mazda Australia tore the wraps off its jaw-dropping new 3 hatch at a special Australian press reveal at Melbourne Docklands today.
Rumoured to be originally scheduled for an international reveal at the cancelled 2013 Melbourne Motor Show, the covers came off in an event that coincided with global unveilings in New York, London, St Petersburg and Istanbul.
With a cab-back design, swoopy nose and hipped flanks, this is a stunningly-styled car – a new expression of Mazda’s Kodo, or “soul of motion” design themes.
Although the same length as the previous model at 4460mm, it offers more room inside, a wider track, a 60mm longer wheelbase, is 15mm lower at 1455mm, and is lighter and slipperier (with a very low 0.275 drag coefficient).
And, although the car looks longer, its overhangs front and rear have been reduced on the current model.
The front a-pillars are located 100mm further back, and the strut towers and engine slope backwards towards the cab.
The result is edgy youthful lines that will certainly grab attention.
As Mazda design director Yasushi Nakamuta said at the reveal, “We didn’t want to just make a metal box. We want to breathe life into the car.”
We won’t see the new 3 here till Q1 next year. For now, Mazda Australia soldiers on with the current model, still selling strongly but now knocked from its top-dog perch by the new Corolla.
The 3 is Mazda’s number-one car, both here and internationally. Since the 3’s launch in 2003 – ten years ago – Mazda has sold 363,000 units in Australia alone. Internationally, it has sold more than 3.5 million units.
The 3, more than the rakishly-styled 6 and more than the CX-5, carries the Mazda brand on its shoulders. It is the success story of Mazda’s modern era, making up 30 percent of Mazda’s global total sales volume.
So, no surprises when new Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders said, “Arguably, this is the most important product unveiling in Mazda’s history.”
For Australia, two engines are planned at this early stage: the 2.0 and 2.5 litre SkyActiv petrol four-cylinder engines. Each will offer improved fuel efficiencies over the current SkyActiv-powered Mazda3 models.
There is no diesel planned for this market; the SkyActiv petrol engines deliver diesel-like economy and, according to Mr Benders, an MPS version is “on the wish list”, but not confirmed.
Inside, the 3 is equally stunning, and a vast improvement over the outgoing three. There is a snug, sporty cockpit feel to the driver’s workbench, and the dash is topped in a very appealing soft-touch composite.
Piano-black features on the centre console, there are cold-feel brushed metal surfaces, carbon fibre-look instrument binnacle, and stylish polished chrome bevelled highlights throughout.
The dash sits lower under the steeply-raked windscreen than in the previous model, and the multi-function display sits on top (Audi-style). The instrument cluster features a central analog dial surrounded by wing-shaped digital displays.
A starter button and keyless entry was also a feature of the premium model on display, as was a head-up display – Mazda calls it ‘Active Driving Display' – and beautiful soft-textured perforated leather seats with suede hip bolsters.
Martin Benders said the new Mazda3 is designed “to create a strong first impression”. Got that in one I’d reckon. If handsome lines are all it takes to succeed, the new 3 is going to bolt.