Alright, I'm having trouble pinning this down at the moment, but at latest it will be in the first quarter of 2004. More likely is the end of 2003, however. If anyone has anything to add to the subject, please post below.
Interesting... everything I've seen says the nameplate in Canada will still be Protege, as it sells extremely well there (specifically Quebec). So I find that they will be getting 3's very interesting.
I heard November 2003. The December launch of the 6 wasn't what they had hoped, so they're hoping November will fair better.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the name. The Mazda3 replaced the Protege nameplate everywhere except Japan where it will be known as the Axela. The Protege5 will become the Mazda3 according to the MazdaUSA website. The have only officially released photos of the hatchback. There are pics of the sedan floating around the Mazda forums.
Yo Luc how much did you get it for??
Or can u give me an average price range for the "3"
I wanna buy a new car and i want to stick with Mazda but i need something that wont add up to more than like 20g's!!!
Well, this article was taken from the Toronto Star newspaper on September 13, 2003:
Does Mazda's newest protege add up?
Company counting on Mazda3 to replace its popular compact car New vehicle comes in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback model
CHANTILLY, France—What do you think of when you see the word "Mazda?"
If you're a sports car fan, probably "RX-7."
If you're a technophile, probably "Wankel rotary engine."
If you're anybody else, probably "Zoom Zoom," from that catchy little tune behind the company's slogan.
But what Mazda people think of is reliability, quality and, increasingly, a sense of balanced performance in engine, suspension and braking, plus emotional styling and insightfulness.
I'll bet even Mazda owners wouldn't have thought of all that.
The Mazda3, arriving in November to replace the Protegé, is the fourth all-new product from the company in less than 24 months — the others being the award-winning Mazda6 mid-size sedan, the lovely RX-8 sports coupe and the sub-compact Mazda2, which is not available here.
Mazda3 is particularly important to Mazda Canada, since we have been the third-biggest market for its Protegé predecessor (after the U.S. and Japan) as measured by unit sales, and even more so when it comes to market share.
Protegé still trails Honda Civic, but has been duking it out with Chevy Cavalier and Toyota Corolla for second spot for some time.
As with Protegé, Mazda3 will be offered in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. If there is a two-door coupe in the works, they aren't saying.
The genesis of the new car was a team of Ford, Volvo and Mazda engineers who met in The Netherlands to plan the new Ford Focus, Volvo S40 and Mazda3.
Each partner contributed its specific expertise to the shared architecture: Ford the vehicle's dynamics, Volvo the safety aspects and Mazda the quality. Each scurried off to do its own thing.
Look at the suspension of Mazda3, for example, and you'll probably recognize the long-travel front Macpherson struts and, for sure, the "control blade" rear trailing arms, from the last-generation Focus.
Mazda says it added even more precision and balance to its baby.
"In a corner, Focus will roll a little, then yaw (turn in to the corner)," says Kelvin Hiraishi, director of research and development engineering for Mazda North America — he fine-tunes Mazdas for North America. "With a Mazda, we want it to yaw first and stay almost flat. If there is a bit of roll, we'd like it to happen simultaneously with the yaw. It is very difficult to do."
The body of the car that's above the floor and its interior are both unique in each of the Ford, Volvo and Mazda versions.
The Mazda bodies are quite tall, and designed to increase interior space, especially for shoulders. But they avoid boxiness with clever sculpting and design, notably around the rear roof pillar.
Relatively large wheels and tires and narrow gaps between the tire treads and wheel openings also help.
The five-door looks smaller than the current Protegé5. Will this be a problem in the showroom?
Joe Backaj, Mazda's executive in charge of product development, admits the volume numbers may be a bit smaller, but the Mazda3's space is much more usable.
"The distance between the rear wheel wells is larger, thanks to rear springs that sit under the floor," he told me. "You can actually get more and bigger things in there."
The sedan also has an ample trunk despite its sleek profile, again due to the height of the car and its low load floor.
There's plenty of people room, too, even in the rear of the sedan. The rear seat is nice and high off the floor, there's ample toe-wiggle room under the front seats, and the rearward faces of those seats are sculpted out to increase rear knee clearance.
The interiors are beautifully crafted — the pre-production units made available for our preview drive looked almost VW-esque in the quality of their trim materials.
The design, especially of the centre stack, will remind those who have seen it of the RX-8. It's a handsome, high-quality, high-tech, yet user-friendly look. The blue and red instrument illumination adds a classy touch.
Two engines will be offered in North America, both all-aluminum, twin-cam, 16-valve fours. A 2.0 litre produces a more-than-competitive 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm, and 135 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm. A 2.3-litre version does 160 and 150 respectively, at the same rpm levels.
The latter unit, shared with the larger Mazda6, is equipped with a counter-rotating balance shaft for smoother running.
Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic with driver-controlled tap-shift feature — rare in this segment — are the transmission choices.
Driving dynamics begin, as they always do, with structure. The old Protegé was pretty stiff; the Mazda3 is 40 per cent more so.
That translates into a solid feel on the road, and should return benefits in durability and safety as well.
The 2.0-litre engine is a sweet revver, running gleefully and smoothly up and well past the peak power rpm. Power delivery is linear, and the light and accurate gearbox makes hard charging up the speedo a delight.
The 2.3 is predictably quicker, but the smaller engine would probably only be a concern if you're running with two or three people through hilly country, with the air-conditioning on full.
Or if you've opted for the automatic transmission, since even the 2.3 engine's performance was subjectively blunted by the auto-box.
The steering, with electric power assist, is light, direct, almost intuitive. The car maintains a flat cornering stance and, while there is a hint of torque steer and it is easy enough to spin the front wheels coming out of a tight corner, the car is a delight to drive on a winding road.
A short blast on an Autoroute showed that Mazda3 is equally adept at high-speed cruising.
"The seats feel terrific, the steering wheel tilts and telescopes, there's lots of storage and the controls operate in a slick and easily understood way.
In short, this is a very well worked-out little car.
The Mazda3 sedan will be offered in Canada in three trim levels, with the 2.0-litre engine available only in the base model.
The hatchback comes only with the 2.3 litre, and in mid-grade or top-level trim. This differs from the range-topping-only Protegé5 — the theory is to expand the appeal of this body style with a lower price point.
Speaking of which, prices won't be announced until late October. Mike Benchimol, head of Mazda Canada, says they won't be too far off the current range ($16,000 to $21,000 for Protegé), and will be comparable to similarly equipped Honda Civics.
Will Mazda's new numerical nomenclature come back to bite them? Will the market, especially current owners, perceive Mazda3 as being two steps down from Protegé5?
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