Among the popular Japanese sedans, the Mazda3 is like an unsung hero. Since Mazda automobiles were quite popular in Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s, those who are older must have vivid memories of how wonderful these cars were, even though Pakistani auto buyers are now only exposed to brands like Toyota, Honda, and Suzuki, or to an extent Mitsubishi & Nissan from the recent past.
Related: Mazda in Pakistan- Why Not?
The Japanese automaker is now celebrating 20 years of Mazda3, its C-segment offering that comes in both sedan & hatchback forms and is a rival to the likes of Toyota Corolla & Honda Civic. Let’s take a quick look at the history of the Mazda 3.
How it Started
Mazda started working on a project in 1999 to replace the outdated Familia/323/Protegé vehicles with fresh hatchback and sedan designs. Under the direction of lead designer Hideki Suzuki, Mazda’s design centers in Germany, Japan, and the United States worked together on this project. After Hasip Girgin’s design was chosen in 2001, he spent six months in Hiroshima perfecting it before it was given the go-ahead for entering into production. The finished product made its debut at the 60th IAA Cars Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003, and a month later the first-generation Mazda3 was introduced in Japan, where it is sold as the Axela. It immediately acquired appeal as a low-cost, fun-to-drive, and well-built vehicle.
In 2006, Mazda introduced the performance-oriented Mazda3 MPS (Mazda Performance Series) at the Geneva Motor Show. It came with a limited-slip differential and a powerful 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, the same one used in the Mazda6 MPS. The car received positive reviews from both the media and customers.
Evolution and Innovation
2008 saw the release of the second generation Mazda3, which made its debut at the Bologna and Los Angeles auto shows. Throughout its lifespan, this model saw revisions that brought Skyactiv technology and performance versions to the Mazda3 lineup, even though it continued to use the “C1” architecture jointly developed by Ford, Mazda, and Volvo.
The MPS performance model returned for the second generation, with improvements such as ECU tweaks, gear ratio tweaks, enhanced brakes, suspension upgrades, piston refinements, steering system improvements, and cosmetic changes. The MPS was a well-liked choice once more with both consumers and the media.
The Third Generation Arrives
The third generation Mazda3 debuted in the middle of 2013, bringing with it a more comprehensive suite of Skyactiv technology and a departure from the common “C1” platform. It now rides on a newly designed Mazda Skyactiv chassis that is also shared by the first-generation CX-5. Additionally, this Mazda3 was the first to use the Kodo design language and was the first to use Skyactiv and GVC engines and transmissions.
The third generation Mazda3 served as the foundation for the Mazda3 “Skyactiv-CNG” concept, which uses compressed natural gas and highlights the adaptability of the Skyactiv-G engine. This concept represents Mazda’s dedication to Sustainable Zoom-Zoom and the multi-solution approach.
Mazda demonstrated its commitment to the electrification of transportation by producing and selling a “Skyactiv-Hybrid” powertrain, which shared technology with the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system, to customers in Japan.
Fourth Generation Debuts
The fourth generation of the Mazda3, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2018, was built on the Kai concept car’s design platform. It was the first Mazda to embody the company’s “road to premium” ambition and the first to have significant visual differences between the hatchback and sedan models. Along with the newly introduced Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition engine (now updated to e-Skyactiv X), which in conjunction with a new 24-volt mild-hybrid system, offers a desirable blend of diesel and petrol performance characteristics, the striking design won numerous industry awards, including 2020 World Car Design of the Year.
The fourth-generation Mazda3 incorporated more high-tensile steel into its structure, resulting in top-notch safety performance during international regulatory testing. It also introduced GVC Plus, an improvement over the GVC system in the third generation.
100th-Anniversary Special Edition
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mazda Motor Corporation in 2020, a special edition of the Mazda3 was released. This edition was based on the top-of-the-range trim and included design elements inspired by Mazda’s first passenger car, the R360 Coupe. With its Snowflake White pearlescent paint, rich burgundy interior, and commemorative badging, this limited-edition model truly stood out from the crowd.
Impact for Mazda3
The Mazda3 has been one of Mazda’s best-selling vehicles and has contributed significantly to the company’s reputation since its launch, with over 6 million units sold worldwide. The journey thus far demonstrates Mazda’s dedication to safety, design, innovation, and driving enjoyment. It’s thrilling to see what the Mazda3 has in store for the future as it marks its 20th birthday.
The fact that Mazda automobiles are no longer accessible in Pakistan, is very disappointing from the standpoint of an auto enthusiast. As previously said, Mazda vehicles, particularly the Mazda3, are worthy of mention as a viable alternative to the likes of Corolla and Civic.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com