New Mazda 3 leak ahead of LA Auto Show reveals manual gearbox and AWD
For some time now Mazda has been teasing us with images showing parts of the upcoming fourth generation Mazda 3. The current models have been adored by many as the most sporty and fun on the regular hatchback market. Now thanks to these leaked images we get to see the real thing – and it's a stunner.
The fourth generation takes this sporty nature and turns it up to 11, drawing heavy inspiration from the jaw-dropping Kai-Concept unveiled back in 2017. Exterior styling is somewhat tamer, but with its clean yet very prominent lines it remains true to the aggressive sporty nature of the Kai concept.
While the front grille has shrunk a little and the headlight surround has became less 'pointy' – probably to appease the safety regulations – the production Mazda 3 remains close to concept around the front.
Down the side, it has lost the thin camera wing-mirrors and flush door-handles for more conventional solutions, while the wheels seem to fill out the wheel-arches a little less. Still, though it's a side profile that punches well above of its class in terms of styling.
Around the back there is more distinction between the concept and the production car: not only are the tail-lights tamer but we've lost the prominent large diffuser present on the concept car. The hatchback still looks immensely aggressive thanks to the large rear winglet/spoiler, a tiny rear window resulting from the sloping roof line and rather sinister looking tail-lamps.
Only half of the rear of the sedan is visible, so it's hard to comment on the overall style, but it seems to look a little more toned down. Still, though it keeps with the aggressive yet minimalist theme, raised trunk lead forms a nice gentle spoiler and the convex tail-lights form a look that says 'I'm smart but I like to play'. Personally, I'm a sucker for sedans and would take one over the hatchback.
Inside: Great but could be better
Again we see the strong influence of the Kai concept with the minimalist and neat, clean interior without needless clutter of buttons. I know I might come off as a Mazda fanboy but this seriously looks great – compare it to a Golf or a Focus and the two almost look vulgar, with their cluttered dashboards full knobs and buttons.
But to prove that I'm not a total Mazda fanboy I will complain about something: namely that god-damn stuck-on screen. The Kai concept showed a screen fully integrated into the dashboard, that solution made the screen look like an integral part of the design, rather than something stuck on as an afterthought. That being said it still looks better than the god-awful screens in the new Focus and Toyota Corolla. That's not me just praising Mazda and hating on its competitors I do genuinely hate these solutions that look like someone stuck on an Ipad onto the dashboard.
UPDATE: Engines, Manual Gearbox and AWD
The car will be available with five engine options: 3 Skyactive-G petrol units from 2.0 to 2.5liter units, one Skyactive-D 1.8 Diesel and finally the long awaited Skyactive-X engine. Although not an awful lot of new detail has been released about, it other than the fact we will have to wait a few months longer for it's arrival into the model line up.
Perhaps in more exciting news, the Mazda 3 finally gets AWD for the first time ever. The I-ACTIV AWD system comes with torque vectoring and yaw moment control via braking, Mazda also claims that the innovative system reduces 60 per cent mechanical losses.
And last but not least, we now officially know the new Mazda 3 will come with a six-speed manual gearbox, although that was never a doubt from a company who openly calls one of its strategies 'zoom-zoom'. Mazda loves fun and loves petrolheads.
More images below...