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Earlier in the week, Mazda held a press test drive event for the ASEAN media at its Mine Proving Grounds in Japan, where journalists were able to sample various Mazda vehicles. One of the cars that were being showcased was the facelifted Mazda 3, which was used to demonstrate the new G-Vectoring Control system.

Launched in Japan earlier in the month, the refreshed C-segment sedan and hatchback (seen here) gains a number of subtle tweaks, including a more angular Mazda 2-esque grille that now runs into the reshaped headlights (adaptive LED units optional). The lower air intakes have also been redesigned, incorporating new projector LED fog lights and indicators.

Along the sides, the door mirrors now feature LED indicator strips instead of the previous individual diodes, while the rear of the hatchback variant receives a reprofiled bumper and diffuser design. A new design for the optional 18-inch wheel – with a gunmetal finish on top-of-the-range models – complete the new look.

The interior hasn’t been neglected, either – it gains a new surround for MZD Connect display, new upholstery options and decorative trim elements, revised instrument cluster graphics, a new full-colour head-up display and a thinner three-spoke steering wheel from the new CX-9.
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Elsewhere, the head-up display’s angle, brightness and content settings can now be saved in the individual memory settings on the 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Larger-engined models also gain a revised transmission tunnel with an electronic parking brake and a sliding cover for the twin centre cupholders.

Engine choices for the Japanese market have been rejigged as well. While the 111 PS/144 Nm 1.5 litre SkyActiv-G petrol and 175 PS/420 Nm 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D turbodiesel engines have been retained, a 105 PS/270 Nm 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D diesel mill, previously only available in Europe, has also been added.

The diesel engines have been revamped with high-precision boost control and fuel injection to enhance throttle response, while a piston pin damper and more finely-controlled fuel injection timing reduces knock and engine vibration, improving refinement.

Also available in Japan is a SkyActiv Hybrid model – based on Toyota’s hybrid technology – that mates a 99 PS 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine to an 82 PS electric motor and an electric continuously variable transmission (eCVT). Meanwhile, the standard 155 PS/196 Nm 2.0 litre petrol has been dropped, although other markets are expected to retain the 2.0 litre and 185 PS/251 Nm 2.5 litre petrol options.

Aside from the hybrid model, all engines are available with either a six-speed SkyActiv-MT manual transmission or a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic. Offered for the first time on the 2.2 litre diesel models is the i-Activ all-wheel drive system that provides optimal distribution of torque to the front and rear wheels by anticipating road conditions, weather and the driver’s intentions.

Under the skin, Mazda has added the aforementioned G-Vectoring Control system, which shifts the vehicle’s weight balance by varying engine torque, thereby improving steering response and stability – we will have a deeper look at how the system works in practice later on in another feature. The chassis and electric power steering setup has also been revised to suit the new technology.

Safety-wise, the facelifted Mazda 3 is the first car to incorporate the company’s new Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR), which will recognise speed limit, no entry and stop signs. Also, the adaptive LED headlights’ high beams are now split into four individual diodes on each side, which can be turned off individually when a car is detected ahead to avoid blinding other motorists.

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Additionally, there’s a new Advanced Smart City Brake Support system which switches from the previous infrared laser sensor to a forward-facing camera – as a result, the maximum operational speed has been raised from 30 km/h to 80km/h. It will also now detect pedestrians as well as vehicles, at speeds between 10 km/h and 80 km/h.

This example seen here has been equipped with a big red button covering the MZD Connect’s display, which turns the G-Vectoring Control system on or off. If the control panel looks a bit like a hack job, that’s because it is – it’s there only to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system, as GVC is always on in production units.

So there you have it, the facelifted Mazda 3. Do you like the new looks and tech on offer? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.