- Mazda 3 MPS, 2012
When the very first Mazda 3 was launched in 2003 it was more than a continuation of Mazda's long compact history, it was a revelation. The new compact looked sportier than most compacts at the time and was exciting to drive. People took notice and Mazda 3 quickly led the way in a rebirth of the Mazda brand around the world, reaching the 1-million production mark sooner than any Mazda model before it. The current second-generation model followed in 2008 and introduced an aggressive front end design. It remains the company's most popular car with almost 3 million sold globally.
Europe is the car's second-largest market worldwide with total sales of 613,000 units, nearly 100,000 of these from the current model achieved in less than two years. With almost 60,000 units sold in 2010, the Mazda 3 is the best-selling vehicle for Mazda in Europe. Mazda 3 has accumulated 125 global accolades since originally launched, including several Car of the Year awards. The first-generation won 99 of these over a 5-year period, while the current model has already taken home 26 awards.
The current second-generation Mazda 3 has built a strong reputation as one of Europe's sportiest compacts. It comes in two body styles, each with its own distinct character: the smooth, sporty elegance of the four-door sedan, and the muscular strength of the five-door hatchback. For even sportier tastes there's the Mazda 3 MPS, which is one of the most powerful frontwheel drive compacts. Besides this strong emotional appeal, state-of-the-art technology and a long list of equipment make Mazda 3 frugal, fun-to-drive and easy to use. It has a powertrain line-up of five petrols (including two DISI direct injection petrol engines), three common-rail diesels, five and six-speed manual transmissions, and four and five-speed automatic transmissions. A long list of standard equipment and options - like a premium ten-speaker BOSE® stereo system and Bluetooth® MP3 capability - make the ride an enjoyable one. Park assist make city parking easier, and adaptive front xenon headlights, tyre-pressure monitoring, rear vehicle monitoring (according to grade/option) and ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) - along with standard front, side and curtain airbags- deliver superior safety
When it comes to head-turning good looks, Mazda 3 is already one of the market's most appealing compact line-ups with an aggressive hatchback and a sporty yet elegant sedan. This was confirmed less than two years ago, when a poll of 200,000 AutoBild readers across Europe voted Mazda 3 Europe's best-looking compact. For the facelift version, designers focused on updates that would continue the car's emotional appeal. They redesigned the front end to be more aggressive and aerodynamic, and reduced rear bumper thickness. These changes give the exterior a well-toned muscular appearance that underscores the car's solid build quality. This focus was carried through to the inside as well, where new materials and colours enhance quality feel, while the optimized ergonomics make the Mazda 3 facelift easier to use.
The current Mazda 3 introduced a new front end that gave the car a unique sporty edge that is immediately recognizable as Zoom-Zoom. This continues with the Mazda 3 facelift. The friendly yet sporty front face with large 5-point grille is updated to create a richer and more stylish impression. The corners of the front bumper now have a larger fascia around the air inlets, new round fog lights embedded in their lower sections, and a lower front lip that protrudes outwards more than before. These changes not only give the Mazda 3 facelift a more aggressive and emotionally appealing look, they function to improve aerodynamic performance as well.
Hatchback Rear End Design - Less Means More
Changes were also made at the back of the Mazda 3 facelift five-door version. The rear bumper is not as thick as before (it protrudes 30 mm less than the outgoing sports-grade hatchback) and the reflectors are placed closer to side panels. As a result, the facelift hatchback looks even wider and more solidly built when seen from the back. The shortened rear bumper allows easier loading and unloading of the Hatchback's luggage compartment, and the overall length of the car has been reduced by 30 mm (compared to sports grade).
New Wheel Designs and Colours
The sporty silhouette of the Mazda 3 gets new 16 and 17-inch wheel designs with more spokes that are twisted slightly backwards to give a dynamic, lighter look even when the car is standing still. Customers can choose between 8 exterior colours: an all-new Autumn Bronze Mica to go along with Indigo Blue Mica, Velocity Red Mica, Crystal White Pearl, Arctic White, Aluminium Metallic, Graphite Mica and Black Mica.
Cockpit - Now Easier to Use
The insightful combination of design and functionality continues on the inside of the Mazda 3 facelift with updates intended to create a more stylish interior that is also functional and easier to use. The current Mazda 3 already delivers superior cockpit ergonomics with a driver-orientated sporty dashboard, great all-round view of the road, telescopic and height adjustable steering wheel, height and front-toaft seat adjustment, and a high-mount shift level backed by a centre console that allows easy shifting with a flick of the wrist.
Leaving this unchanged, designers focused on lowering the amount of eye-movement it takes to use the car's onboard systems from behind the wheel. To realize this, they replaced the previous silver of the lower section of the dashboard middle console with black colour, and ringed dials and controls that are used most by the driver in brighter satinpolish silver that's easier to see.
They also replaced the red graphics of the current model's multiinformation display and LCD (under the instrument panel hood) to a crisp white, which makes them easier to see as well. The twin-metre driver cluster is also optimized in the facelift model to be easier to read, especially during the day. The previous blackout meters are replaced by continuously lit white graphics. These graphics are placed on either a grey background colour (standard and high grade models) or a sporty red gradation for the Mazda 3 MPS.
Colours and Materials
The facelift interior now has leather park-brake handle for all models. Designers introduced new design patterns in the seat-centre that are of higher quality. Standard grades have a centre fabric in black or beige with a three-dimensional pattern using wavy cross-threads for a strong sense of quality. High grades also use this wavy pattern in black and beige, but with shiny threading that changes according to how the light hits it.
Optimised Ride Comfort and Handling Stability
The 2011 facelift carries forth the Mazda 3 reputation for agility and easy handling by introducing new features that improve ride quality and handling stability. The result is a facelift model that is even more fun and predictable to drive on a daily basis.
Toitsu-kan - a Higher Quality Driving Experience
Mazda 3 is a driver's car. For the facelift version, engineers optimized handling and ride comfort even further to deliver a higher quality driving experience. To achieve this, the pilot must experience a "consistent and linear feel" while driving. Engineers gave this composite attribute a name, Toitsu-kan, and applied it to steering, suspension and body characteristics, along with engines and transmissions.
It delivers smooth transitions between acceleration, lateral and deceleration G forces in response to the basic aspects of driving, turning and stopping for a more linear and consistent driving feel.
Updates to Body Shell, Suspension and Steering
A new single brace bar that is made of stronger and more rigid reinforcement material is added to the front of the body, instead of the current two reinforcing bars, which is better at suppressing foreaft deformation, it delivers not only more rigidity, but a more refined handling stability (except for MZR-CD 2.2-litre diesel version).
To increase ride comfort, changes were made to Mazda 3's front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension system, and its electric-hydraulic power assisted (EHPAS) system. Mazda 3's EHPAS system was updated with new pump-flow settings and stiffer wheels were introduced. When combined with the more rigid body and optimized dampers, these contribute to better steering feedback and road feel, especially at mid and high speeds.
A major contributor to handling stability of the Mazda 3 facelift is its new, aerodynamically-optimized front bumper. Its lower side sections protrude further forward, and the fins beneath it are larger. This streamlines the air hitting the front of the vehicle more effectively and lowers turbulence where air enters the front of the engine compartment.
It also improves the effectiveness of the new front tyre deflectors and suppresses air swirling at the sides of the body. The updated front grille allows more gloss painting at the upper part of the grille (for high-grade) and less grille mesh is needed, which has the advantage of reducing the chance of mud or rocks entering the grille.
The front tyre deflectors are now 50 percent more rigid than before, which helps prevent deformation at high speeds. The floor undercover was also redesigned to contribute to better aerodynamics. It now covers 10 percent more area than before and the vertical grooves of the outgoing model are replaced in favour of a flatter surface. At the back, the undercover is curved and closer to the ground, which is better for controlling air-flow rearwards. How much these measures affect air-flow can be seen in the Mazda 3 facelift's improved coefficient of drag - for the sedan Cd is just 0.27 (0.28 for the current model) and 0.29 for the hatchback (0.30 for the current model). The Mazda 3 MPS coefficient of drag is unchanged at 0.32.
Taken together, these updates help the Mazda 3 facelift to respond perfectly to driver input, support Mazda's trademark one-with-the-car feel, improve handling stability at higher speeds, and make the ride even more comfortable.
Also contributing to increased ride comfort is an improvement in NVH performance for the facelift. Pressure within the cabin increases as the body shell around the cabin flexes and moves, which amplifies interior noise. To lower this, engineers introduced a new B-frame beneath the floor that is 0.7 mm thicker than before and has a reinforced joining area with more spot welds, which helps lower cabin deformation, and there is increased floor damping material as well, which reduces road noise and makes the Mazda 3 facelift cabin even quieter.
Improved Fuel Efficiency and Lower Emissions
Over the past two years, the Mazda 3 line-up has been expanded by several new engines and derivatives bringing the total number of different powertrains to seven. For the Mazda 3 facelift, this outstanding portfolio is expanded to eight with the introduction of a new 1.6-litre petrol model with automatic transmission, and all but two engines have been enhanced to deliver better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
Five petrol powertrains are offered for the Mazda 3 facelift, beginning with the MZR 2.0 DISI i-stop with six-speed manual transmission, which produces a sporty 110 kW/150 PS of power at 6,200 rpm and 191 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. This driving fun is combined with Mazda's stop/start system, i-stop, that shuts down the engine when the cars stops and saves fuel. For the Mazda 3 facelift, optimized engine tuning and improved aerodynamics have lowered fuel consumption by 0.1 litre to 6.7 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions from 159 to 157 g/km (combined).
The petrol line-up also has the high-performance MZR 2.3 DISI Turbo with a special-ratio six-speed manual transmission in the Mazda 3 MPS for sports purists. This engine is one of the most powerful front wheel-drive petrol in the world and produces 191 kW/260 PS of maximum power at 5,500 rpm, and 380 Nm of maximum torque at just 3,000 rpm. The engine uses 9.6 litres of petrol per 100 km, which is very acceptable for a high-performance car this exciting to drive.
Also onboard for the Mazda 3 facelift are three lively, petrol engines that are very popular with European customers. This includes the MZR 2.0 petrol with a five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode for easy driving with an ideal mix of power and fuel economy. It produces 110 kW/150 PS at 6,500 rpm and 187 Nm of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm, while using 7.6 litres of fuel and producing 175 g/km of CO2 (combined).
The agile MZR 1.6 petrol with five-speed manual transmission is onboard for customers looking for driving fun combined with low consumption. It produces 77 kW/105 PS of maximum power at 6,000 rpm and 145 Nm of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm. With the improved aerodynamics of the Mazda 3 facelift design and a 5th gear raised from 0.820 to 0.775, this engines produces less CO2 than before (147 g/km, down from 149) and uses 6.4 litres of fuel per 100 km. It is now joined by a four-speed automatic transmission version (see box). The sedan with this powertrain uses 7.4 litres of fuel per 100 km while emitting a low 171 g/km of CO2 (combined). The hatchback model needs 7.6 litres of fuel per 100 km and produces 176 g/km of CO2.
New Mazda 3 1.6 Petrol Activematic Transmission
For the facelift, Mazda is expanding the line-up with a new MZR 1.6 petrol model with a four-speed automatic transmission called Activematic, which allows the convenience of driving in fully-automatic or manual mode. The automatic mode is comfortable yet sporty and includes slope control for uphill grades that prevents gear-hunt, and optimised downshift characteristics from fourth-to-second gear. Tuned especially for the 1.6-litre petrol engine, Activematic provides a linear, direct feeling of control with no compromises on spirited engine performance.