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Mazda puts big tickets on all-new small sedan

Boot in safe mode: The new Mazda3 sedan is already proving popular and may even outsell its hatchback sibling.

All-new Mazda3 sedan could match the popular hatch in sales terms Down Under

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Mazda logo15 Jul 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MAZDA expects the third-generation Mazda3 sedan may equal or even lead its hatchback equivalent in the popularity stakes.

To be launched at the same time as the five-door version next February, the four-door variant’s design is already gaining traction with potential buyers on Mazda-related internet forums and chat groups after first official images and details were released last week.

It may lead to a return to the original 2004 BK-series Mazda3 days, when the sedan went against the small-car segment norm by gaining more market share than the hatch – to the tune of 60:40 at times.

The second-generation sedan from 2009 has since fallen back to about 45 per cent of total Mazda3 volume in Australia.

According to Mazda Australia public relations manager Steve Maciver, the positive reaction to the new BM-series sedan in recent days augurs well for the Mazda3 range to regain the number-one spot from the hard-charging Toyota Corolla.

“If we want to have Australia’s best-selling car it needs to appeal to a whole range of buyers,” he told GoAuto.

“Having a sporty-looking hatch and a sophisticated-looking sedan fits all customers’ needs particularly well.

“Since we’ve unveiled it, forums tell us people are very happy with the sedan’s design, and early feedback backs that up, too.

“So there’s been significant interest in both cars. But obviously the market will decide.”

At 4580mm long, the new Mazda3 sedan is 15mm shorter and 41mm wider than the current version, but is sleeker thanks to a 15mm lower roofline, with shorter front and rear overhangs (46mm and 24mm respectively), more ‘cab backward’ silhouette and a 61mm-longer wheelbase (2700mm).

With similar interior dimensions to the hatch, the sedan either equals or offers slightly more space all-round than the current model, except in the areas of front headroom (down 8mm) and boot space (up to 22 litres less).

Meanwhile, the new Mazda3 four-door is more aerodynamic than its five-door sibling – it has a leading 0.255Cd drag coefficient in models fitted with active front grille shutters, compared to 0.275Cd for the hatch – offers more cargo space (408 litres versus 308 litres, although both are down compared to the previous series) and features a 30 per cent stiffer body.

Though both are 70kg lighter than their predecessors, the latest sedan’s front-to-rear weight distribution is slightly better than the five-door version’s, at 60:40 versus 61:39.

Mazda says the hatch was designed first in Japan during 2010 with input from all of its four global design studios, closely followed by the sedan.

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