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LA show: Fourth-generation Mazda3 approaches

Next Mazda3 small car shows design influence from Kai concept in teaser video

18 Oct 2018

MAZDA has confirmed that its fourth-generation Mazda3 will be revealed in full next month, likely at the Los Angeles motor show, releasing a 15-second video that teases the best-selling small car’s new side profile.
 
Expected to land in Australian showrooms in 2019, the Mazda3 will draw its exterior design from the Kai concept shown at the Tokyo motor show in October last year, as evidenced by the apparent similarity between their glasshouses.
 
However, some elements have been toned down in the production model, including the fitment of regular doorhandles and side mirrors, while its creased character line is more prominent than the show car’s smoother interpretation.
 
While the Japanese brand is yet to provide a look at the Mazda3’s interior design, it is unlikely to closely mimic the Kai concept’s, with it instead expected to channel the recently facelifted Mazda6 mid-size car’s set-up.
 
As reported, the front-wheel-drive Mazda3 will be underpinned by Mazda’s second-generation SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture and offer its new SkyActiv-X engine – the first mass-production petrol unit with compression ignition.
 
Specifically, SkyActiv-X uses Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI) to ignite the fuel-air mixture when it is compressed by the piston. This process is aided by traditional spark plugs, which aid efficiency under light and heavy loads.
 
Based on the existing 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G four-cylinder petrol engine, SkyActiv-X adds a super-high-pressure fuel spray system and a Rootes supercharger that helps to optimise the air-fuel mix.
 
As a result, SkyActiv-X promises improved launch response, more expansive performance at higher engine speeds, and at least a 20 per cent decrease in fuel consumption – or 30 per cent in real-world conditions.
 
In a surprising development, SkyActiv-X offers better performance when running on cheaper 91 RON petrol instead of higher-octane 95 RON fuel.
 
The SkyActiv-X’s power and torque outputs are expected to be about 140kW and 230Nm – a 26kW/30Nm increase over the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G – while a manual gearbox and an automatic transmission are under development.
 
SkyActiv-X will be positioned as the Mazda3’s flagship engine option when it enters showrooms, meaning the model’s current 2.0- and 2.5-litre SkyActiv-G units will likely become the entry-level offerings, albeit it with upgrades of their own.
 
Meanwhile, the latest version of SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture will usher in increased stiffness, reduced weight and a semi-independent torsion-beam rear suspension for the Mazda3, which previously employed an independent multi-link set-up.
 
While the former is a cheaper alternative to the more sophisticated latter, Mazda told GoAuto last year at a Mazda3 prototype drive event in Frankfurt, Germany, that the move will reduce Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels – a constant criticism of its models – and improve dynamics.
 
Sales of the Mazda3 taken a step back this year, with 24,344 examples sold to the end of September – a 4.4 per cent decrease over the 25,457 deliveries made during the same period in 2017.
 
Nonetheless, the Mazda3 is still the second best-selling small car in the sub-$40,000 segment, trailing the Toyota Corolla (27,687 units) but ahead of the Hyundai i30 (21,989), Volkswagen Golf (15,066), Kia Cerato (14,725) and Honda Civic (10,611), among others.

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