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From on July 3.

Work underway on Mazda3
[03 July 2003]

Production has started on the vehicle which will form the fourth prong of Mazda's revival. Following on from the 2, 6 and RX-8, the Mazda3 will be unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September before going on European sale later in the year.

Designed to mimic the driving experience of European-built cars, the 3 will 'blur the lines of conventional vehicle segmentation.' (Are there any left?) It's aimed at traditional small car buyers who would normally go for something like a Focus or Civic, and proposes to offer 'more in terms of design, craftsmanship and interior packaging.'

In Japan, the vehicle will be called the Axela. We don't normally reprint press releases word for word, but we love this so much that we're going to let you read Mazda's own thinking behind the name in pure, unadulterated form:

'The name Axela was developed by combining the English words "accelerate" and "excellent." This name was created to communicate the youthful exhilaration of fun driving - acceleration - with infinite possibilities, as represented in "X". Tweety oodle doodle peep.

Aside from using it as an excuse for being as pretentious as possible, Mazda's core aims with the vehicle were to offer a prominent, well-defined design based on what has become its own recognisable look, along with high levels of quality and value, Euro-style dynamics and innovative use of interior space. Whether it has achieved that is something we'll see in the autumn... but if the vehicles it has already come out with since entering its 'new generation' are anything to go by, there could soon be a very talented new kid on the small car block.
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