Mazda 3 Next Gen Overview

Which car is it?

Mazda3 is Mazda’s version of “coming out”. The new car blasts a bold direction change for the conservative Oriental car maker.

The previous base grade has been discontinued as buyers made it clear their preference for additional features.

The 4th generation of Mazda3 continues the tradition of being a small but practical car started by its predecessor, the 323.

Next-Gen Mazda 3 goes on sale this weekend.

There are 2 tried-and-true engines, the same 2 transmissions and 6 trim levels. Each is packed to the gunnels with stuff. Watch out Corolla, move over Golf, Mazda is comin a-gunnin.

The Models are: G20 – Pure, Evolve, Touring, and G25 Evolve, GT, and Astina. G20 models have 2.0L 4 cylinder engines, and G25 get a 2.5L unit. Neither is turbo charged.

How are the looks?

It is dead sexy.

The hatch is the first of 2 body styles. A sedan will follow in the 2nd half of the year.

Sides have been smoothed out, to be replaced by bodacious curves  A slinky coupe profile, and dramatic roofline give Mazda3 a hot-hatch-cum-mini-SUV look. .

There are 8 colours for the hatch and 7 in the sedan. Some colours are nicer than others, with the grey looking like an over-boiled batch of “battleship”.

Astina’s wheels have been given a glamorous dose of LBD. The black looks hot against the red of our test car. Wheels are 16” on Pure, and 18” on other models.

Further reductions in NVH (noise, vibrations, harshness) have been gained by adding “nodes” to the body construction. These rubber-like pads inside the frame turn vibration in to heat. You won’t see them, but you’ll certainly notice them

Interior Decoration 101

Noise reductions continue in the tasteful cabin.

The soft furnishings have been carefully considered. The hood lining, seats, doors, and dash have a luxurious touch to them, and they soak up noise like a spnge.

Holes cut in inner body panels allows extra noise in, so bass speakers have been moved to the footwell in a bespoke speaker box. Astina gets lashing of aluminium-covered Bose speakers.

Holes made for the transmission selector, and any other bolt holes etc, have been sealed with improved grommets and tighter tolerances. I love a tight tolerance.

Colours have been kept dark and brooding to provide the relaxed ambience of a jazz club. Trim has been pared back in a “less is more” philosophy worthy of William Morris.

Fighter-jet style cockpit Instruments are angled towards the driver. Adding to the faint whiff if military magic is an HUD (heads up display)..

Astina has been lavished with leather, and all models have soft-feel surfacing, classy stitch details, and simplified instruments.

Seating follows the “S” curve of the human body to make long trips feel energising rather than draining. Luxurious burgundy leather is particularly classy. Trim options depend on model.

Cabin lighting applies the same tone and intensity of white light so eyes are not strained, especially at night.

A large landscape mode LCD tablet is placed further back on the dash. It is angled to avoid glare, and to face the driver. It includes standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and is controlled via a revised command centre between the front seats.

Next-Gen Mazda3’s project leader, Kota Beppu, says his goal was to make people fall in love with the car. He wanted it to be an object of desire, and to be easy to drive.

He removed driver distractions by removing the touch function from the  8.8” LCD screen. Instead, the menu system is be driven via the command wheel. It has the added benefit of keeping grubby mitts off the glass.

Cup holders have been moved forward of the gear lever, with a neat cover when no in use. USB ports are located centre under the armrest.

Steering wheel controls have been redesigned and realigned, to be more ergonomic. Both the centre armrest, and door armrests are at the same height as each other. On long trips you’ll feel like you’re sitting in your lounge at home.

Auto headlights and auto high beam are set on traditional stalks.

Mr Beppu stressed that white light, including headlights, was less tiring on the eyes. Cabin lighting shares the same white hue and intensitiy.

Rear legroom is snug without being tight. Headroom for taller passengers might need consideration in cars with a sunroof.Rear  windows are small thanks to a high waist and low roof but it makes the back seats feel cosy rather than cramped.

Rear seats fold 60/40, giving the boot 295L of usable space.

The beautiful interior is a clear segment leader in quality and layout. Name a better one, if you dare.

The cool stuff

All Mazda3s get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Better late than never.

Sound, even on base models, is nothing short of amazing. GT and Astina has a 12 speaker Bose system. Speakers have been placed to face passengers rather than reflect off the windscreen. It makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.

Bass speakers have been secreted deep in the bowels of the footwell rather than being jammed into the doors. gives. clearer low down performance. Audio engineers spent a lot of time to ensure entertainment can be enjoyed at whatever volume the listener desires.

The features list is extensive, but here are a few highlights.

The Oily bits

There are 2 Euro 5, Skyactive-G engines: a 2.0L with 114kw/200Nm and a 2.5L with 139kw/252Nm. They come with either a 6 speed Skyactive-MT manual, or 6 speed Skyactive-Drive automatic.

In addition, the 2.5 has cylinder deactivation which….

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