LA Auto Show 2018: Mazda and its mojo



Mazda set out to make the new Mazda3 the prettiest car in its class, but what’s under its skin is far more important

LOS ANGELES, USA — Important new cars seldom come as important as this. Mazda unveiled the new 3 at LA, and took the unusual step of putting the cars out in full view hours before the press conference to launch them bega. Car companies usually hope to entice as many journalists as possible to their events by keeping their new cars hidden.

Mazda was either confident about the new 3’s ability to draw the press, or simply couldn’t wait to show off the car.

Either way, the new Mazda 3 lives up to Mazda’s aims to refine its cars’ designs and elevate them above the mainstream.

Both the hatchback and sedan versions of the new car have sleek, organic profiles with slim, neat lamps at both ends. Mazda made the car longer, and its program manager Kota Beppu said engineers had to overcome “technical challenges” to make the bonnet and boot lower.

He said in a statement that Mazda had set out to create “the most gorgeous sedan in its class.”

The interior retains the driver-focused layout of the current Mazda models, with a step up in quality and an emphasis on making the dashboard look wide and neat, as it does in the latest Mazda 6.

Expect improvements to ride comfort and handling, particularly since the new Mazda 3 is built on the new Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture, the platform that will underpin the brand’s next generation of cars.

One of the aims with the new platform is to make riding in a car feel as natural as walking on your own feet, said Beppu. “When walking or running, people make subtle adjustments in the legs, pelvis and spine so that head sway can be controlled using only the slightest muscular effort. In order to make this natural action possible in the car, we redesigned and organically linked every component to draw out people’s innate ability to maintain balance,” he said.

The other major breakthrough that the new Mazda 3 will usher in is the Skyactiv-X engine that combines attributes of both petrol and diesel engines (though it still runs on gasoline).

Mazda has said its 2.0-litre Skyactiv X engine can achieve 10 to 30 percent more torque than the current 2.0-litre gasoline Skyactiv G, with efficiency improved by 30 to 40 percent.

Mazda only said the engine line up would “include” a Skyactiv-X engine, so it’s not a given that you’ll be able to buy one with the technology equipped. Mazda said the new engine will be assisted by its M Hybrid system to further boost efficiency.

For now, the line-up includes Skyactiv-G engines in 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5-litre capacities, of which you can expect the smallest to appear in Singapore, paired with a six-speed auto.

Between a new platform, new engine type and the potential for hybrid drive, the new Mazda 3 has plenty lurking under its shapely skin.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.