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Thursday, September 11, 2003

Mazda3 is Next Up to Zoom
By Jennifer Shatwell
Special to FCN Online

FRANKFURT, Germany, September 11, 2003 -- It's the fourth all-new Mazda in just two years.

The new Mazda3 has taken center stage at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. It arrives on the heels of the widely acclaimed Mazda6, the Mazda2 and the all-new, rotary-powered RX-8 in a revitalized lineup of "new-generation" products from the Japanese automaker.

To be sold as Mazda Axela in Japan, the new Mazda3 is available in four- and five-door models. It borrows design and innovative packaging cues from the MX Sportif concept unveiled earlier this year and delivers an exciting drive experience while optimizing function, economy and spaciousness. Mazda3 benefits from the expertise gained by its new-generation predecessors, and like the Mazda6, Mazda2 and RX-8, it epitomizes the "stylish, insightful and spirited" experience that marks the brand's design DNA.

The five-door hatchback evokes a sense of movement and stability with short overhangs on either side of a long wheelbase. Its front and rear fascias are flared and assertive, and bold character lines extend from the familiar five-point grille over the hood for an emphatically contoured look. A unique, triangular C-pillar enhances the hatchback’s dynamic design, and integrated circular headlights and rear combination lights add a distinguished touch.

The four-door Mazda3 sedan has a personality all its own and a subtler, more elegant look than the hatchback. It has a similar long wheelbase with short overhangs, but the sedan’s rear is short and high and with its compact-looking cabin, achieves a more coupe-like design.

Mazda 3
At the heart of Mazda's new sporty compact is a diverse lineup of powertrain options, specifically developed to meet the demands of a global market. It features a new range of five, inline, four-cylinder engines with low emissions, good fuel economy and ample low-end torque for agile response on the highway and in city driving. Two new diesel engines will be introduced in the European market in early 2004.

Coupled with an electronically controlled, four-speed Activematic transmission or Mazda's redesigned, five-speed manual transmission for sporty shifting, the Mazda3 delivers linear, predictable and responsive driving dynamics.

Its body is highly rigid, delivering sports car-like stiffness for superior handling, precise steering and minimal noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Larger brakes lend more effective deceleration, and Mazda's Advance Impact Distribution and Absorption System helps to provide additional passenger safety in collisions; the body structure is designed to resist impact deformation and disperse crash energy away from the cabin.

The Mazda3 is one of the longest, widest and tallest vehicles in its segment, thus ensuring one of the roomiest interior environments. Both models seat four adults comfortably and offer a host of innovative storage compartments for valuable cargo space. In most models, the Mazda3 has room for 16 compact discs (CDs) or a two-liter beverage in its glove box, plus a lower center console area for 13 additional CDs and an upper center console tray that conveniently stores a mobile phone. Rear seatbacks and cushions fold flat for increased trunk volume, which is further enhanced in the sedan by its high and wide rear. A sub-trunk is featured in the hatchback for organized storage of smaller items, and the floor section of this model can be used to separate the luggage space into upper and lower sections. It also can be raised to create a partition.

Mazda 3
Inside, a variety of interior colors and materials allow Mazda3 owners an opportunity for customization. The instrument panel is uncluttered to reinforce a feeling of spaciousness and features metallic accents and amber-red lighting, while sporty-style seats and a dual-textured, leather-wrapped steering wheel convey a sense of the vehicle's "zoom zoom" drivability.

Set to go on sale in Japan and Europe this fall and reach key global markets shortly thereafter, "the 3 will become Mazda's most-produced car worldwide," suspects James B. Treece of Automotive News.
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