The new 2019 Mazda 3 has been unveiled at the LA Motor Show, and as well as a new design it heralds the debut of Mazda’s SkyActiv-X spark-controlled compression ignition petrol engine.
The exterior design is based on an evolution of the company’s Kodo design language, with an increased focus on the interplay of light and shadows across the body’s surfaces.
The Mazda3 will continue to be offered in both hatchback and saloon forms, although each now has a more distinct character – the hatch has been penned in a more emotive form, while the saloon is more elegant.
The new lighting design is powerful and appealing, particularly at the rear with its twin circular motifs.
Inside, Mazda say they focused on the concept of ‘less is more’ with elements such as the climate controls integrated into the dashboard forms rather than standing out from it.
Greater emphasis as been placed on the driver both within the design but also in terms of functionality; the steering wheel now adjusts through a wider range, the gear lever has been elevated slightly and moved forward, while a new multimedia commander control now falls more easily to hand.
It’s linked to a wider 8.8-inch display with an updated interface and a new Digital Owners’ Manual, while the instruments and head-up display have been revised to be clearer and more consistent.
The A-pillars have been slimmed to help reduce blind spots, the wipers clear a larger area of the screen, can have their speed controlled in finer increments, and now feature washer jets attached to the wiper arms.
There’s a new 8-speaker stereo system, plus the option of a 12-speaker Bose set-up that adds a centre speaker, rear satellite speakers and a subwoofer.
Considerable effort has been expended on improving noise levels, with a series of measures aimed at tuning-out sound frequencies that occupants associate with low-quality levels.
Hatchback models with the new SkyActiv-X engine also gain a new red leather option.
Speaking of which, it’s the debut of Mazda’s new SkyActiv-X petrol engine that’s perhaps most exciting about the new Mazda 3.
Unfortunately, Mazda hasn’t released too much in the way of detail regarding the new spark-controlled compression ignition engines, other than to say they would be assisted by a new mild-hybrid system that will also be available for the more conventional SkyActiv-G petrol engines.
These are set to be offered in 1.5 and 2.0-litre guises, while a SkyActiv-D 1.8-litre diesel engine will also be available.
Although previously not available in the UK, Mazda did outline changes to their i-Activ all-wheel-drive system aimed at improving responsiveness and efficiency, while the G-Vectoring Control Plus system now assists with preserving control during braking and emergency manoeuvres.
A new Driver Monitoring System uses infrared cameras and infrared LEDs to monitor the driver’s fatigue levels and, by tracking their line of sight, ensure their attentiveness.
Front Cross Traffic Alert uses front side-mounted radar to assist at T-junctions with an obscured view, while a new Cruising & Traffic Support system helps with accelerator, brake and steering inputs in traffic jams.
If all of that fails, the Mazda3 marks the company’s first use of a driver’s knee airbag while the bonnet uses a new energy-absorbing inner structure to soften the blow to a pedestrian.
The new Mazda 3 is expected to go on sale next spring.