The Japanese automaker Mazda introduced a compact vehicle known as the Mazda3 or Mazda Axela in the Japanese market in 2004. The Mazda3 was introduced as a replacement vehicle for the Mazda Familia (323 or Protégé in global market). A top of the line version of Mazda3 is sold in North American market as Mazdaspeed3 and as Mazda3 MPS in European market.
In latter half of 2008, the second generation Mazda3 was introduced as 2010 model with sedan version at the Los Angeles Auto Show and hatchback version at the Bologna Auto Show.
The first generation Mazda3 introduced in 2004. It received a good amount of appreciation from the press for being performance-oriented, excellent handling, superb styling and comfortable interior. It was also criticized for its fuel economy and crash test results, i.e. received only four out of five stars in the EURO NCAP Safety Testing Program. However, Mazda quickly introduced the six airbags to improve the safety. The Mazda3 ranked the second best-selling vehicle in Canada for 2006, while remained the top best-selling vehicle for the year 2005-2007 in Israel.
The European Mazda3 1.4S is the lowest-spec model which sprints from 0-100 km/h in14.3 seconds and achieves a top speed of 106 mph (170 km/h).
Official Mazda specifications state that the 1.6 CiTD diesel version mated to a 5-speed manual transmission in Europe can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 11.6 seconds with a top speed of 113 mph (182 km/h).
The 2004 Mazda3 available in 5-door style was equipped with a 2.3-L unit. According to Car and Driver magazine, the car could sprint from 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds and achieved a maximum speed of 118 mph (190 km/h).
As for fuel consumption, all these models achieve an average of 10 L per 100 km (24 mpg-US; 28 mpg-imp) including a 2008 Mazda3 with 2.0-L automatic that achieve 10 L per 100 km (24 mpg-US; 28 mpg-imp) in city while 7.6 L per 100 km (31 mpg-US; 37 mpg-imp) on the highway in United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings.
Mazda released the pictures and videos displaying their next generation model of Mazda3 in October 2008. The new generation model not only received some restyling on its exterior but also received dual exhaust. In the United States and Canada, the model offered with two engine choices, i.e. a 2.0-L petrol engine also used in previous model and a new 2.5-L inline-4 used in the second generation of Mazda6.
Three major companies including Ford, Mazda and Volvo jointly introduced the C1 architecture. This had already been used in the previous generation and retained in the second generation Mazda3. Compared to the previous generation, this generation is relatively taller, wider and lighter. For this generation, the earlier 2.3-L engine was dropped in favor of a 2.5-L engine capable of generating 167 bhp (125 kW; 169 PS) and torque around 167 lb-ft (226 Nm). Some markets also receive a 2.2-L turbodeisel variant.
2012 SkyActiv powertrain
Mazda revealed the 2012 SkyActiv powertrain for Mazda3 at the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show held in Toronto in February. The 2012 model features a Mazda’s SkyActiv-G 2.0-L, direct-injection gasoline engine mated to a SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission. Some exterior modifications made are: revised grille, new headlights, reshaped rear valance panel and revised air intakes.