Mazda unveiled the fourth generation of its compact sedan and Mazda3 sedan on the eve of the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. The new models display a more streamlined aesthetic, new technological evolutions in helping to driving and will be the first vehicles to incorporate the automaker's new Skyactiv-X engine technology when it debuts next year.
Design "Less is more"
For the new Mazda3 sedan and hatchback models, Mazda designers have adopted a minimalist approach. The profile of the 3 does not have lines of characters, strong folds or hard edges. Instead, Mazda simply uses fluid, fluid curves to convey elegance, emotion, and musculature.
The sedan draws the best design language with a spectacular and massive C-pillar that gives the car a very dynamic appearance. It probably also has a fairly massive blind spot and seems a little oddly proportioned from certain angles.
The sedan is the sweetest of the two. Without the benefits of the odd proportions of the hatch to catch the eye, the flanks of the Mazda3 sedan end up looking hollow, undefined and simply stuck.
Both body styles feature sharp design elements at the front and rear ends that continue to evolve, simplify Mazda's Kodo design language, and add structure to their undefined mid-sections. I do not feel the "love at first sight" for any of the 3, but I reserve my judgment until I see both cars in person.
Simple and smart cabin
Inside, the "less is more" theme continues with a driver-focused cockpit and many subtle ergonomic modifications that underpin a streamlined and minimalist dashboard.
The steering wheel now benefits from greater telescopic reach to better accommodate different body shapes. Meanwhile, the position of the shifter (for manual and automatic models) has been moved forward and upward for greater ease of access and return to the steering wheel. The standard seat-seat tilt results from a new bucket seat design that boasts better spinal alignment for added comfort and an improved driving feel.
In front of these new seats is a beautifully minimalist dashboard that incorporates the handle of vents, buttons and buttons for air conditioning controls in its two-level design. Embodying the brand's new "Mazda Premium" thrust, the new Mazda3 will be available with improved trim materials, including a new, exclusive, burgundy leather color.
An 8.8-inch widescreen monitor for the Mazda Multimedia Information System is placed at the top of the dashboard and is operated by a physical control knob located on the center console. Presumably, this version of Mazda Connect will feature newly announced connectivity between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but the initial announcement makes no mention of these technologies.
I-Activsense security technology
Expect the current suite of i-Activsense driver support technologies to continue in this next generation with some new features added to the mix.
The new Mazda3 will be available with a driver monitoring system based on an infrared camera that monitors the driver's eyes and eyelids to make sure he's monitoring the road while driving. The infrared lights illuminate the driver's face in the dark, making this technology particularly useful in preventing drivers from falling asleep at night.
A new traffic and traffic assistance system assists throttle, brake and steering inputs to reduce fatigue in traffic jams. Presumably, in the same way as the assistance function at the Audi bottling, there is practical management assistance while the car handles the accelerations and braking to maintain a safe distance.
There is also a new Front Cross Traffic Alert system that uses a side radar to detect oncoming perpendicular traffic at blind intersections or when reversing a driveway or garage.
Skyactiv engine technology
Under the new sheet metal, the body of the new Mazda3 is of course stiffer, stronger and lighter, improving maneuverability thanks to stronger suspension attachment points, increased crash safety, better economy and a quieter driving. And under the hood, the new generation Mazda3 will be launched with a variety of Skyactiv-G and D engines on a global scale.
However, North American pilots need only worry about the four-cylinder Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter launch scheduled in early 2019. Power and torque have not yet been set, but expect something like 184 horsepower. and 185 pound-feet of torque that the current 2.5-liter does. It will be available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. In addition, the Mazda i-Activ all-wheel drive system will be available for this generation with G-Vectoring Control Plus brake powered torque vectorization.
By the end of 2019, the next-generation Skyactiv-X engine featuring Mazda's M Hybrid system will debut, joining the list of Mazda3's options with the promise of better torque distribution and more. improved fuel economy with minimal impact on driving dynamics and fun. Unlike the streamlined exterior design, Skyactiv-X is extremely complex: it combines ultra-strong compression, small compressor, complex combustion timer, diesel engine technologies and even a moderate hybrid system. I've already explained the technology of this engine and its operation in a separate article to allow you to.