New Mazda 3
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New Mazda 3 Maxx Sport sedan
12th July, 2006
Mazda’s 3 sedan and hatch, has been upgraded, offering more safety and more refinement.
The updates and new features will further strengthen its appeal, which has seen it average 2,200 sales a month since launch.
The small car segment, in which the Mazda 3 competes, is the country’s most popular segment with 105,305 so called small cars sold this year (to the end of June).
Safety is upgraded with new Mazda 3 becoming the first volume-selling car in its class to offer an optional Dynamic Stability Control on most models.
DSC is a state-of-the art accident avoidance anti-skid system that automatically corrects front or rear-wheel slides without driver intervention. The DSC system automatically brakes individual wheels and reduces engine torque to correct slides. Overseas research claims that stability systems, such as DSC, can reduce single vehicle accidents by as much as 30 per cent.
DSC is standard on the SP23 Luxury Pack model and optional across the rest of the range.
DSC, which also incorporates traction control, works with ABS anti-lock brakes, a safety feature that is now standard on all Mazda 3 models.
Other safety upgrades include a seatbelt warning system for front and rear seat passengers, while the addition of a collapsible brake pedal and a redesigned steering wheel adjustment lever have reduced the likelihood of lower leg injury.
Apart from standard ABS anti-lock brakes and the seatbelt warning system, the entry Neo models also get an MP3 compatible CD player and new trim among other updates. Priced from $20,990, the Neo sedan and hatch are just $200 more than the superseded model.
Mazda 3’s typical younger than industry average buyer will also appreciate that it comes with an auxiliary jack to plug in an iPod and a 12 Volt outlet. This feature is standard on Maxx models and above and is available on Neo models with the optional power pack.
The power pack, which is now just $610 (compared with $960 previously), includes power windows and mirrors and the centre console-mounted iPod connection and power outlet.
Cruise control is now standard on Maxx, Maxx Sport and SP23 models, which with manual transmission are priced at $25,500, $26,500 and $29,600 respectively.
The managing director of Mazda Australia, Doug Dickson, said: “The significant updates, sharp pricing and the subtle style enhancements made to the class leading Mazda 3 sedan and hatch will ensure that it remains one of the Small segment’s best performers and Mazda’s most successful model."
“Offering DSC stability control across all models is an important step as it brings this cutting-edge, life-saving technology to one of Australia’s favorite cars in the country’s most popular market segment. We anticipate that about 25 per cent of all Mazda 3’s will be sold with DSC”.
The updated Mazda 3 has a host of significant mechanical updates which have reduced fuel consumption across the range, improved the car’s class leading ride and handling and significantly reduced unwanted noise, vibration and harshness.
The 2.0-litre powered Neo, Maxx and Maxx Sport models benefit from the addition of Sequential Valve Timing, which improves power from 104 kW to 108 kW at 6,500 rpm using regular unleaded fuel.
The 2.0-litre engine produces 182 Nm of torque, up one Newton metre on the previous car, while torque delivery is boosted between 2,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm. An electronic throttle further improves accelerator pedal response and acceleration.
Mazda 3 customers will also welcome the very slightly improved fuel consumption figures, with manual models returning 8.2L/100km on the ADR 81/01 cycle (down from 8.6L/100km previously). Automatic models now return on average 8.4L/100km (down 0.5L/100km on the superseded models).
The 2.3-litre SP23 models continue to offer one of the most powerful engines in the class with the larger powerplant producing 115 kW and 203 Nm of torque. This engine also adopts an electronic throttle, improving acceleration feel and the accuracy of the cruise control.
With the adoption of a six speed manual gearbox, which offer closely spaced third, fourth and fifth gear ratios, and a five-speed automatic transmission, performance and economy of SP23 models has been improved.
The SP23 manual models now return 8.6L/100km compared with 9.0L/100km previously, while the five-speed automatic averages 8.7L/100km, down from 9.3L/100km previously.
The five-speed automatic offers an Activematic mode and wheel-mounted change buttons to maximise driver involvement and driving fun.
The Mazda 3’s ride and handling have also received attention with the sedan and hatch adopting some of the body stiffening measures used on the Mazda 3 MPS.
Local stiffening at various points on the chassis effectively suppress local deformation of the body when cornering and reduce vibration transmitted from the road surface, promoting sporty handling and a consistent ride quality.
The suspension has also received improvements with the front end benefiting from new steering arm mounting points, improving steering response. This change has also reduced understeer by reducing the amount of wheel toe-out on bumps by about 25 per cent.
The dampers have also been modified and feature improved damping force follow up at the switching point between compression and extension. This promotes smoother, more stable roll control and a flat ride.
To increase rear wheel grip and further improve stability, the mounting point of the lateral link was changed, increasing the amount of toe-in by about 30 per cent when driving over bumps. Additionally, monotube dampers with a larger piston diameter are now used, improving initial control and achieving a flatter ride.
Thankfully, a reduction of NVH was a major focus of the Mazda 3 update. Driver and passenger comfort has been improved through lowering the engine and road noise in the cabin.
Specific areas targeted were general noise and vibration from the engine, noise at high engine speed, droning when cruising at high speed and road and wind noise.
Road noise was reduced by changing the internal structure of the tyres on all models and using stiffer wheels, while the addition of insulation material on the roof reduces road and high-speed wind noise.
Styling has played a significant role in the success of Mazda 3 and the new range offers a subtle refreshing of sedan and hatch models.
Changes include new bumpers, new grilles, redesigned alloy wheels. Inside there are new more elegant seat trims, new cloth trims and dash panel finishes.
Other changes to the Mazda 3 include a larger opening for the sedan’s boot, while the hatch can now accommodate 340 rather than 300 litres of cargo.
Mazda Australia expects to sell about 2,500 Mazda 3s a month with the sales split 40 per cent Neo, 15 per cent Maxx, 24 per cent Maxx Sport and 21 per cent SP23.
Mazda 3 sedan and hatch
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