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More of the same for Mazda’s phenomenally successful Mazda3 small car

8 Apr 2009

WHO would have envisaged the lowly (but respected) Mazda 323’s meteoric rise (no pun intended, if you remember the 1982 booted Ford Laser-based Meteor version), when it morphed into the Mazda3 in late 2003? Future historians will recall how this Japanese small car seduced Australian private buyers away from more traditional fare such as the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, while expertly riding the wave of booming economic times, seismic shifts in consumer buying habits and unprecedented petrol prices. Now a nation awaits the verdict on the same but really quite different next-generation Mazda3.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 April 2009 to 1 September 2011

Previous model

Mazda BK Mazda3 Series II

Released: July 2006
Ended: April 2009
Family Tree: Mazda3

MAZDA kept the pressure on rival small cars with the facelifted version of its all-conquering Mazda3 in the middle of 2006, ushering in a minor front and rear facelift, slightly better equipment levels, and the same keen pricing. The 2.0-litre MZR four-cylinder petrol engine’s power rose slightly, from 104kW to 108kW, while torque snuck up 1Nm to 182Nm in the Neo, Maxx, and Maxx Sport. Gearbox choices continued to be a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, except for the 115kW/203Nm SP23 released at the same time, whose 2.3-litre unit drove the front wheels via a five-speed auto or six-speed manual transmission. The wild 190kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo MPS hot hatch also used a six-speed manual, and it was the fastest front-driver in the world for a while. At the other end of the economy spectrum, a 105kW/320Nm Diesel model was unveiled in August 2007. To prepare the Mazda3 for run-out, the model range was rationalised to Neo Sport, Maxx Sport, and SP23 from March 2008, but continuing popularity saw stocks dwindle faster than expected, so Mazda pulled the next-gen BL-series ‘3’ forward to April 2009.

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