The all-new 2019 Mazda 3 has been unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show this week. Although iterative in its look, today's reveal signals 'a new era' for the Japanese brand.
Both five-door hatchback and four-door sedan versions will be offered once again, though unlike the outgoing model the two body styles will have distinct personalities – Mazda says the hatch is 'emotive' while the sedan is 'elegant'.
In terms of design, the Mazda 3 family debuts a new evolution of the company's 'Kodo' design language, with the hatchback drawing heavily from the Kai concept and the sedan echoing cues from the Vision Coupe concept, both revealed at last year's Tokyo motor show.
Mazda says the new designs "combine with a delicate play of light and reflections to realise elegant and sophisticated styling with a natural, dynamic feel".
Both models feature new light designs front and rear, which incorporate a circular LED signature at both ends that has been designed to create a minimalist "clean and beautiful look".
The sedan measures 4662mm long (+82mm) and 1445mm tall (-5mm), while the hatchback is 4459mm long (-11mm) and 1440mm tall (-10mm). Both are 1797mm wide (+2mm), though oddly the company hasn't quoted a wheelbase measurement at all. For reference the current model has 2700mm between the axles.
Inside, the new 3 again takes design inspiration from the Kai concept in just about every respect. There's a driver-focused dashboard layout, incorporating a larger 8.8-inch display – with a new look to Mazda's MZD Connect infotainment system – and a revised centre console.
Available in three colourways – black, Greige (grey and beige) and burgundy (exclusive to the hatchback) – the new model's cockpit offers extra adjustment in the steering column (+10mm telescopically each way) and with the front seat, which now features cushion tilt adjustment as standard equipment.
Mazda has also repositioned the gearshift in both automatic and manual models (both six-speeders) further forward and higher for greater ease of use, while the cupholders now sit ahead of the gear lever.
An eight-speaker audio system will be featured as standard on North American models, with a 12-speaker Bose setup available on high-grade models.
Speaking of the sound, Mazda says it has applied a new 'two-wall' structure that leaves space between the body and floor carpet, while matching the characteristics of sound-deadening materials to reduce noise vibration harshness (NVH) levels.
Additionally, the new 3 has tyres "with optimised vertical spring action and increased rigidity "at possible entry points" also help to suppress vibrations that are transmitted into the cabin from the road.
The new Mazda 3 picks up a range of new and updated driver-assistance systems too, including a new 'Cruising & Traffic Support' system that essentially works as a semi-autonomous traffic jam pilot by assisting with accelerator, brake pedal and steering operations on the highway.
Other new active safety systems include available front cross-traffic alert for intersections, and a new driver monitoring system that uses both infrared camera and LED sensors to monitor how open a driver's eyes are, how many times they blink, and the angle of their mouth to determine the level of drowsiness or fatigue.
If the system determines the level of fatigue is dangerous, it will sound an alert and shorten the time before the forward collision warning sounds.
Finally, there's an increased amount of ultra-high-tensile steel (30 per cent, up from 3.0 per cent), a new driver's-knee airbag (a Mazda first), and a new energy-absorbing structure in the bonnet to protect pedestrians from serious head injuries in the event of a collision.
As for motivation, the new-gen Mazda 3 will be offered with a total of five powertrains (depending on market), including 1.5-litre, 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G naturally-aspirated petrol engines, a 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D turbo-diesel, along with the company's new Skyactiv-X compression-ignition petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology.
Full specifications for the engine line-up are still to be detailed, though we do know both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered, as will an 'evolved' i-Activ all-wheel drive system and the GVC Plus vectoring system that debuted on the updated CX-5 SUV.
Alborz tested the Skyactiv-X engine last year, and you can read his review here.
Mazda has rolled out further evolutions of its Skyactiv structural technologies throughout the chassis and cabin, too, including seats designed to maintain the natural S-shaped curvature of the human spine, new front-to-back connections in the frame to increase rigidity, and a revised suspension setup – which uses MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear.
Although full local details are still to be confirmed, Mazda has revealed we will see the new 3 in Australia from mid 2019.
Stay tuned for an update, and click here for the full image gallery.