The Mazda 323 transition from the early 2000s till today is quite a remarkable one. To think that Mazda ended that eighth generation to begin the current Mazda renaissance since 2003, has been nothing less than spectacular. The reason behind this is incredibly evident. If you look at the previous generation 3 and its current, everything from its design, feel, and execution has been a leapfrog product that’s placed Mazda in the global spotlight ahead of their Japanese counterparts.
In Malaysia, the current generation Mazda 3 is one we’ve seen since its launch in 2014, where its first introduction was brought in fully imported from Japan, launched again in its CKD form a year after, and just received a facelift earlier this year. The nip and tuck although minor, showcases that the finer touches do enhance the look of the car. Oh and Mazda has also introduced and included G-Vectoring Control (GVC) with this new edition.
The Mazda 3 is known as the Axela in Japan. Here you can see the differences in the facelift.
On the overall, Mazda has aimed to improve the look with a wider and more mature approach and it has been executed well. At the front, the new changes emphasizes a wider horizontal face for a greater sense of width. The bolder front grille now connects to the headlamps. The smaller fog lamps at the bottom have been redesigned and now is integrated into the chrome strip for a more streamlined look. LED headlamps are now more pronounced and compare the logos and you might even notice a difference between the two.
The inside cabin features a new steering wheel design, and the centre console has been reworked to to free space – replacing the manual handbrake pull with an electronic one and making way for more cupholders. Instrument panel fonts have been refined, and the Active Driving Display also now features info in full-colour.
The positioning of how the driver is, in relation to most of the equipment and how the car is sized, is quite a delight for us when we were behind the wheel. Drivers will notice how the wing mirrors are placed further in from its usual placement where the door meets the A-pillar. This of course brings the sides closer and more connected to the surroundings, making it easier for the driver to better see through the visual obstructing A-pillars.
Off late, Mazda has been heavily talking about their concept of Jinba Ittai, a Japanese phrase that translates directly as having the horse and rider as one. How they’ve successfully managed to take this experience further is including G-Vectoring Control that is now standard on all their cars post-2017.
What GVC does is a reduction in pitch and roll when taking a corner. What Mazda has done is tie the power steering and engine control computers together with the GVC algorithm that reduces power output during cornering and acceleration (which usually pitches the car back). The result puts a little more weight on the front tyres, which makes steering response more direct and consistent. The change is subtle, and did make us feel more confident behind the wheel. We could go into and out of a corner much quicker thanks to how GVC improved the response of the car.
Truthfully, it isn’t hard to tell that Mazda is a brand focused on making cars for enthusiasts. Why? They’re the only Japanese car company at present that markets heavily about driving experience and Jinba Ittai. We like the updated 3. With a more matured look and feel, the company has made the best Mazda 3 yet. And with the recent preview of the KAI concept at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, we couldn’t be more excited for what’s coming next.
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