Mid-life refresh for popular Mazda3

FRESH-FACED: The popular Mazda3 now has improved driving dynamics and safety.
FRESH-FACED: The popular Mazda3 now has improved driving dynamics and safety.

THERE is no doubt the Mazda3 is a vital part of the Japanese manufacturer's portfolio. It accounts for more than a third of all Mazdas sold around the world and a perusal of the cars around you is an easy reflection of its popularity in Australia too.

This latest update, the first since this current model was released in 2014, is more than just new trim and headlights. At its core are improved driving dynamics thanks to the introduction of G-Vectoring Control which uses the engine to enhance chassis performance for a smoother, more precise drive.

"It is a technology that aims to give the driver and all passengers a heightened 'Jinba-ittai' experience by offering smooth, predictable and efficient vehicle movement,” said Mazda3 program manager Akihiro Kashiwagi. "Mazda wishes to create a presence that turns the car into the customer's prized possession, rather than simply serving as a mode of transport.”

Safety has been improved too with many of the on-trend technologies featured in the newly released CX-9 now also being made available in this small car. Smart City Brake, now with pedestrian detection, is standard across the range while the Mazda3 Maxx and all grades above it get Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Smart City Brake Support - Reverse. The SP25 GT also gains Driver Attention Alert and Traffic Sign Recognition while the range-topping Astina boasts adaptive LED headlights and Lane Keeping Assist.

Michael Kennedy Photography

This edition is available with the same 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engines that did duty in the outgoing model - no diesel though - each paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. There are six variants offered in either a hatch or sedan starting with the Neo from $20,490, although it is the Maxx, some $2400 dearer, which is expected to be the volume seller.

The updated interior includes a simplified instrument panel, a smaller better fitting steering wheel and the USB inputs moved to the centre console, no CD player though which falls to the sign of the times. An all-colour Active Driving Display - a head-up display in other words - is pretty impressive, easily displaying information from the navigation system and other little titbits in the driver's peripheral vision.

The exterior is still immediately recognisable as a Mazda3 with simple changes to the front grille and a bolder rear design. The Mazda symbol and licence plate holder are positioned lower, while the stance is more powerful with the LED lights cutting a cleaner line.

Topics:  cars news mazda3 motoring

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