So Mazda finally took the wraps off its all-new Mazda3 hatchback, revealing a car with a lot of substance. There are two key words you have to learn about to know the new MAzda3: KODO and SKYACTIV. The former is the design philosophy that resulted in those nice looks, and the latter a series of technologies that make it sporty yet efficient.
Unlike the outgoing model which had a daring design with a big smiley face and sharp edges, the new 3 is much tamer. It has traded most of its angles for nice curves, and that smiley face for a big and prominent grille that is the corporate look of Mazda right now. It is a very good design for a car in this class; it is exciting and nice to look at, but sober enough not to scare sensible people away.
The same applies to the interior. Gone are those wild lines and weirdly-placed displays, and in their place you get a very normal dash, an infotainment screen that sticks out, and a lot less buttons. The handbrake lever is also on the correct side this time. The new cabin works very well ergonomically, but one may argue that it’s become a bit boring.
The new Mazda3 is physically larger than its predecessor, and that means you get a lot more space than you used to. The rear passengers especially will like the extra leg and headroom. For added precision, the base of the A-pillars have been repositioned 3.9 inches rearward to afford greater range of vision for both the driver and front passenger.
Another nice addition to the new Mazda3 is a human-machine interface (HMI) system, or heads-up display, giving you tons of information about the vehicle without being distracting. This being a modern family car, you also get lots of connectivity features thanks to the infotainment system that offers internet-based apps, satellite radio, USB, etc,. The system also can read email and short messages aloud while the vehicle is in motion using text-to-voice technology.
In America, the 2014 Mazda3 will be offered with two engine choices: the currently-offered SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a new SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine, as fitted to the CX-5 and 2014 Mazda6. The Europeans will get those in addition to a 2.2 liter diesel, while in Japan the car will also be available as a hybrid electric. The 2014 Mazda3 will be available with a choice of the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual and SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmissions.
SKYACTIV also brings you the i-ELOOP, a regenerative braking system that employs a capacitor to store electricity generated when the vehicle decelerates, as well as body and chassis systems that result in a more rigid construction, thus enhancing the driving experience.
Depending on the market and trim level, the new Mazda3 also gets an awful lot of safety features under the i-ACTIVSENSE package. The include High Beam Control (HBC); Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM); Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS); Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW); Smart City Brake Support (SCBS); and Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC). These are of course in addition to a full range of standard safety features including six airbags, ABS, EBD, stability program and…
It seems that the new Mazda3 has retained what always made it great – tons of features, value for money, and superb handling – while improving those areas where it was less than perfect, like design for example. We reckon the 3’s success story will continue even stronger than before.