At a time when automakers such as General Motors and Ford are getting rid of their small cars and replacing them with crossovers, Mazda is banking heavily on the fact that a technically advanced high-end version of the compact Mazda3 can defy all odds.
Sales of the Mazda3 and all compact cars in the United States fell 14% this year
The 2019 Mazda3, rebuilt from scratch and presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Tuesday, offers a wide variety of engines, perhaps even the best-performing engines in its class, offering a new version of the design language Kodo's company that includes more fluid curves and fewer creases and angles as well as a redesigned interior that emphasizes refinement and simplicity.
First of all, the technique. The Mazda3 crosses the borders with an optional 1.8-liter diesel engine and a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-X engine. It is the first production engine for the North American market to use spark-controlled compression ignition, which means it combines the combustion characteristics of gasoline and diesel.
Diesel is Mazda's first and will be exclusive to the compact car segment when Chevrolet will eliminate Cruze diesel in March. The other three engines are a 1.5 liter, a 2.0 liter and a 2.5 liter, all marketed under the name Skyactiv-G. Mazda plans to offer the car with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
The base of the Mazda3 includes a redesigned chassis that contains more high strength steel with frame side members that absorb shock energy. The car comes with four-wheel disc brakes, a McPherson strut at the front and a torsion bar rear suspension.
Mazda engineers have put occupant and pedestrian safety first. The hood has an energy absorbing internal structure designed to reduce head injuries to pedestrians. On the list of options is a new driver monitoring system called i-Activesense, which includes an infrared camera and an infrared LED that monitors the driver's condition, Mazda said. The system monitors the driver's eyelids, counts the number of flashes and displays the angle of the mouth and face to detect drowsiness or fatigue. The driver will hear an alert if the system detects drowsiness.
The Mazda3 will have to face fierce competition from Toyota's redesigned Corolla, which gives this old compact a sporty style, more power and more premium materials for the interior.
Mazda plans to offer the redesigned car in early 2019 in two body styles, the sedan and the sedan.