Maker adds top tech en­gine to its pop­u­lar small car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

One of Aus­tralia’s favourite small cars has had a ma­jor makeover. The new gen­er­a­tion Mazda3 — the sec­ond most pop­u­lar small car in Aus­tralia be­hind the Toy­ota Corolla — has been un­veiled at the Los An­ge­les mo­tor show ahead of a show­room ar­rival in mid-2019.

Sleeker, longer and wider than the pre­vi­ous hatch and sedan, the new model is a new de­sign and prom­ises class-lead­ing tech, in­clud­ing for­ward cross-traf­fic alert and driver fa­tigue cam­eras that mon­i­tor eye move­ment.

Fa­mil­iar 2.0 and 2.5-litre four-cylin­ders are ex­pected to carry over, to be joined by a new 140kW petrol en­gine with ground­break­ing tech­nol­ogy that prom­ises diesel-like fuel econ­omy and lower pol­lu­tion.

The Sky­Ac­tiv X 2.0-litre uses a tiny su­per­charger — Mazda calls it an “air-sup­ply de­vice” — to push ex­tra air into the en­gine’s cylin­ders. Rather than in­creas­ing power like a con­ven­tional su­per­charger, its job is to make the fuel mix­ture thin­ner.

This en­ables the en­gine to run an ul­tra-high com­pres­sion ra­tio to burn fuel more ef­fi­ciently. Test drives have demon­strated real-world ef­fi­ciency gains of be­tween 15 and 17 per cent.

The en­gine re­port­edly does not need spark plugs but Mazda has fit­ted them for added re­fine­ment low in the rev range. This tech is likely to be avail­able on dearer Maz­da3s.

There is greater dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween the sedan and hatch, which now share only bon­net and wind­screen. Pre­vi­ously, most pan­els and doors were shared.

The fresh look for both vari­ants is aimed at in­vig­o­rat­ing the small-car class, where sales have slumped since the surge in SUVs.

Mazda Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing man­ager Alas­tair Doak says: “There’s still a core au­di­ence who want a small car, they don’t want some­thing else.”

He views the small-car class as far from dead. “There’s still a lot of de­mand for small cars,” he says.

Mazda is yet to re­lease pric­ing and model de­tails. How­ever it has dis­closed that all new Maz­da3s would come with a driver’s knee airbag, bring­ing the tally to seven.

Traf­fic jam as­sis­tance — which inches the car for­ward in traf­fic when ac­ti­vated — will be avail­able on dearer ver­sions for the first time.

The new Mazda3 will also be one of the first mod­els from the brand to have Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto as stan­dard — smart­phone mir­ror­ing has been a $500 dealer-fit ac­ces­sory on most Maz­das sold over the past five years.

Mazda also claims to have made fur­ther im­prove­ments in sound in­su­la­tion. Pre­vi­ous Maz­das have been rau­cous com­pared to their peers be­cause sound-dead­en­ing ma­te­rial was of­ten the first to be jet­ti­soned when try­ing to save weight.

How­ever the com­pany in­sists it has found new ways to make its cars quiet with­out bring­ing a weight penalty.

Mazda says it has cre­ated a spe­cial floor un­der­lay that “leaves space be­tween the body and car­pet­ing” and also re­duced the num­ber of gaps in the car­pet­ing “wher­ever pos­si­ble to sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance sound in­su­la­tion”.

The new Mazda3 also has “sound­ab­sorb­ing” roof lin­ing and floor mats that “ef­fec­tively sup­press high-fre­quency noise”.


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