Known as the Axela in Japan, the first generation Mazda 3 was introduced in 2003, it reached our shores in 2004 when the Japanese brand re-entered the Philippine market. Mazda’s new compact car didn’t just get a new name; it was also a big departure from its 323 Familia and Protégé predecessors, not just in styling but also in its more upmarket architecture which was developed with Ford (Germany) and Volvo. In 2009 the second generation Mazda 3 went on sale in global markets, this model was launched in the Philippines in early 2012. Styling was evolutionary and strongly resembled the model it replaced; its most distinctive new design feature was its wide low mounted main grille. Its platform was carried over from the previous generation. In 2013 Mazda’s third generation 3 made its global debut; this was the first truly all-new 3 in ten years. The third generation Mazda 3 landed on our shores in 2014, it carried the Japanese carmaker’s new KODO “Soul of Motion” design language. It features long flowing lines and a more cab-rearward proportions which give the 3 a more premium sporty European feel. The front end is dominated by a large grille flanked by slim headlights; these were slightly revised in 2017 for a fresher cleaner look. Curved front fender lines and prominent haunches give it a muscular look. Both sedan and hatchback body styles share a common rear end styling with sleek horizontal tapered taillights. Inside, it has a sporty European-inspired cockpit. Its dashboard features a horizontal-biased layout with a floating infotainment screen. Its instrument cluster features a central analog tachometer with integrated speedometer readout with digital displays on either side. On 2.0-liter variants, the speed is also projected on the head-up display.
Two fuel efficient SKYACTIV-G gasoline engines are offered on the Mazda 3, a 1.6-liter inline-4 mill which makes 110hp and 144Nm of torque, and a 2.0-liter inline-4 lump which pumps out 155hp and 200Nm of torque. The larger motor is equipped with an i-Stop engine start-stop system and i-ELOOP, a regenerative braking system which can power the vehicle’s electrical equipment. Both powerplants are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Mazda 3 features a SKYACTIV-Chassis which was designed to be more rigid and lighter than the previous platform. While it still retains the independent MacPherson strut front suspension and independent multi-link rear suspension setup, the revised suspension geometries improve comfort and handling. The G-vectoring system controls engine power based on the steering input. Torque is reduced when the steering wheel is turned, this shifts the weight to the front tires to improve grip when cornering. Torque is returned to normal when the steering is held in a steady position; this shifts the weight back to the rear. All Mazda 3 variants have dual airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control, rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Three-point seatbelts and ISOFIX child seat anchors are standard across the board as well. The range-topping 2.0-liter variants get additional safety features like side airbags and curtain airbags.