Mazda’s respected ‘Kodo’ design theme leans in the sporting direction for the all-new Mazda3

Mazda’s respected ‘Kodo’ design theme leans in the sporting direction for the all-new Mazda3

Mazda Australia is one of the shining stars in the Mazda firmament. In recent years it has risen from being one of many quality importers to being outright number one. That has largely been due to the huge success of the Mazda3, the car that has outsold everything else downunder for the past two years.

As a reward for this Mazda’s head office chose Australia for the global reveal of the all-new Mazda3. At 11.30am on June 26 we were amongst a selected group of journalists to witness a gleaming red Mazda3 being driven onto a stage to the accompaniment of stirring music and a brilliant light show.

As the hours passed and the sun moved across the Earth other countries had their reveals of the all-new Mazda. With London and New York being the final two major cities – but we in Melbourne saw it first.

The Japanese culture puts a great deal of importance in having special design themes for its products (not just automotive ones) and Mazda’s now familiar ‘Kodo’ (Soul of Motion) design takes a powerful semi-sporting direction for the all-new Mazda3.

The importance of the Australian market was shown by the presence of the Mazda3‘s designer, Koji Tabata, at the global Melbourne reveal. His detailed explanations, including musings on the differences between Japanese and Western cultures, about the way the new shape evolved were fascinating.

Interestingly, the shape of the new Mazda3 doesn’t really break any new ground, it follows the styling cues of quite a few other current model cars from various countries. But there’s little doubt in our eyes this new generation Mazda3 takes the theme to new levels with its bold sporty lines that will add a new dimension to the Australian small car market.

The standout feature of the new Mazda3 is obviously the large complex grille that’s a trademark of Kodo. It sits close to vertical to make for a long bonnet, one that could even be called almost roadster in its dimensions.

While the body is about the same length as the about to be superseded Mazda3 it sits on a longer wheelbase and therefore gives the car reduced overhangs. Very European; it’s no secret that Mazda and Alfa Romeo are working together these days and this ‘3 may be a signal of exciting things to come.

Up to 100 kilograms have been removed from the mass of the midsize Mazda, depending on the model and specifications.

Inside, there’s a strong Italian look to the instrument layout with a large tacho dominating the driver’s area. The seats are nicely shaped and provide what feels like good support. The rear seat area is roomier than before and this Mazda could be used as a family machine if the children haven’t yet got to their giant teenage years.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the new Mazda has been showcased well ahead of its release. “somewhere in the first quarter of 2014” is all that’s being said about the Australian on-sale date.

Total Australian sales of the Mazda3 in the ten years since its introduction are almost 340,000 and Mazda Australia’s new chief, Martin Benders, is expecting big things from this all-new model. It doesn’t seem as though he needs a lot of luck to succeed – the car will do its own talking.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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