Looking out for
Your next favourite car has never looked better
THIS is Australia’s next No.1 car— the ‘‘ all-new’’ Mazda3.
The Japanese contender is unveiled this week with a bullet and a near-certain spot at the top of the showroom charts next year.
It’s still visibly a Mazda3 but smoother and more refined inside and out and bristling with new technology.
It’s far too early for a final call on pricing but the newcomer should hit showrooms with stickers starting very close to the $20,490 of today’s Neo.
The early local preview of Mazda’s new baby comes as part of a simultaneous unveiling in New York, London, St Petersburg and Istanbul. The Australian arrival was originally planned as the highlight of the Australian International Motor Show and went ahead despite the cancellation of the Melbourne event.
The difference is that the Mazda3 is a much bigger deal in Australia than in Britain, the US, Russia or Turkey.
It was Australia’s favourite car in the past two years, having dethroned the Holden Commodore. So far this year and despite the current model’s age— it’s now well into run-out and has been promoted through June with a
33,755 $20,490 drive-away deal— it still runs a solid second to the Toyota Corolla.
‘‘ This car is all-new, from the ground up. It will be on sale early in 2014,’’ Mazda spokesman Steve Maciver confirms to Carsguide.
The arrival of the new 3 comes as the car celebrates its 10th birthday and Mazda prepares for a fresh burst from the Hofu factory in Japan that has already produced more than 3.5 million cars.
In line with Mazda’s (surprising) openness about its plans for the new Mazda3, Maciver confirms a range of details on the newcomer.
It will continue in five-door hatchback and four-door sedan variants. The wheelbase has been stretched by 60mm and the body is 40mm wider and 15mm lower.
At launch, there will be 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre SkyActiv petrol engines, Maciver says. The transmission options will be Mazda’s SkyActiv-NT manual and SKYActiv-Drive conventional automatic.
‘‘ A normal torque converter locks up for 60-70 per cent of the time but this one locks up 90 per cent so it’s much more fuel efficient and direct,’’ he says.
The car’s Australian preview includes an appearance by exterior design chief Yasutake Tsuchida and advanced studio head Yasushi Nakamuta.
Typically, the talk is about the emotion in the car’s design, not about the clear visual connection to the outgoing car or the more refined side sculpting or the new look in the nose, or a cabin that still puts the driver first.
‘‘ We pursued a rhythmical look for the new Mazda3 design that displays energetic tension,’’ the company says.
‘‘ At the same time, we aimed for a design that will earn the all-new Mazda3 a place in the hearts of customers as a trusty partner, rather than a mere means of conveyance.’’
Some recent Japanese arrivals have reflected the costdown development focus during the global financial crisis, including the Suzuki Swift and Honda Civic, but Mazda says it put a stronger emphasis on quality for its contender.
That includes slimmer panel gaps in the bodywork and new carbon fibre-look material for the instrument binnacle. Inside, there is also a head-up instrument display (not confirmed for the whole range), a new infotainment display atop the dash, not set into the centre stack, and more storage nooks including a dedicated slot in the console for mobile phones.