2014 Mazda 3

New Compact Mazda takes the fight right to market leaders
By Imthishan Giado

2014 Mazda3

Quirky Hiroshima-based Mazda has long been one the car industry’s best kept secrets. Their cars crackle with genuine driving pleasure, are sharply styled and present good value, not to mention producing quirky numbers like the world’s best-selling convertible, the MX-5. In the marketing sweepstakes though, Mazda has long since been left behind by far bigger Japanese rivals Toyota, Honda and Nissan whose Corolla, Civic and Sentra dominate the compact car market, while the 3 has been languishing without an update since the dark recession-filled days of 2009.

2014 Mazda3

Now at last, the third generation Mazda3 has been revealed and it looks like it’s going to be a cracking good car. Clearly a product of Mazda’s current ‘Kodo’ styling language, the 3 sports a strongly sculpted body with a pronounced snout and gently flared arches, coupled with the now de-rigeur character lines for the flank. Overall, it’s a clean, crisp design that thankfully ditches the old ‘smiling grille’ and promises to stand out next to the aggressively-styled new Corolla while easily outpacing the only-OK Civic and the risibly-dull Sentra.

The new 3 is a clean sheet design and sits on a wheelbase 2.4 inches longer than the old car, yet is 0.6 inches lower and 1.8 inches shorter in overall length. Aerodynamic drag is claimed to be just 0.275 and 0.25 for the hatchback and sedan respectively with an ‘active air shutter’ that opens and closes as needed to improve efficiency and fuel economy. Wheel choices are 16-inch steel or 16-inch/18-inch alloys on higher trims.

Engine-wise, the only announced units at present are the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder units. Both are beefy motors for the size; the 2.0-litre produces 155bhp/150lb ft, while the 2.5 puts out 184bhp/185lb ft, coupled to either a six-speed manual or automatic. All well and good for the US market which receives these motors but in the UAE the last 3 was sold with a fairly woeful 1.6-litre 110bhp matched up to a four-speed auto – let us hope the folks at Galadari see fit to import the bigger engines this time around.

2014 Mazda3

The interior sees a step up from the current car. Instead of the twin-tube instrument cluster Mazda has opted for a motorbike-style design with a central tach flanked by info centers, a nice nod to the high-revving nature of these SKYACTIV engines. The central stack has also been cleaned up with the old small infotainment screen ditched for a large central dash-mounted screen which you might well mistake for a removable Android Tablet. In the US, this will come with all the trimmings from Internet radio Pandora to standard speech recognition and an SMS reader service that can additionally read out your Facebook status updates. Don’t expect to see any of those features on GCC-spec cars, although you will get all the other toys  – smart keyless entry, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth audio and a decent leatherette interior.



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