Thailand is the next country to officially launch the facelifted Mazda 3, with four variants on offer – 2.0E, 2.0 C, 2.0S and a top-spec 2.0SP. Prices range from 847,000 baht (RM106,687) to 1,119,000 baht (RM140,948), and all variants are offered in both sedan or hatchback body styles.

Under the bonnet, the familiar E85-capable (Thailand market) 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine continues to be of service, providing 165 PS at 6,000 rpm and 210 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic.

By now, the Mazda 3’s new styling shouldn’t be alien to anyone, but we’ll do a brief recap anyway. At the front, the redesigned grille features a repositioned Mazda logo and a thicker chrome surround, with the latter meeting up with the new LED headlamps with integrated DRLs (certain variants get halogen projector units instead).

As for the rear, the sedan remains almost identical to before, while the hatchback gets a new bumper with a reshaped rear fog lamp and reflector. Depending on the variant chosen, the Mazda 3 will come with either 16- or 18-inch alloy wheels. Buyers also get to choose from seven body colours – Meteor Gray, Aluminium Metallic, Eternal Blue, Jet Black, Snow Flake, Soul Red and Titanium Flash.

Moving inside, new items include the restyled multifunction steering wheel that is nearly identical to that on the CX-9, and an electronic parking brake, which replaces the handbrake on the outgoing model. Elsewhere, the Active Driving Display (heads-up display) fitted on select variants has been enhanced to display in full colour.

Drivers will still have access to automatic air-conditoning, as well as the MZD Connect infotainment system, which is linked to the 7-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard and Commander Control knob on the centre console. Features such as keyless operation, drive mode selector, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, paddle shifters and cruise control are all available (variant dependant).

As we’ve sampled in Japan previously, the new Mazda 3 comes standard with Mazda’s SkyActiv-Vehicle Dynamics suite that includes the new G-Vectoring Control system. The system varies engine torque in response to steering inputs, subtly controlling lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces to ensure a more direct and responsive drive.

Safety-wise, the Mazda 3 comes with up to six airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control, traction control, Hill Launch Assist and Emergency Signal System. Higher-end variants come with the i-Activsense suite, which tags on Adaptive LED Headlamps (ALH), blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, Smart City Brake Support (front and rear), lane departure warning system, lane keep assist, Driver Attention Alert and Mazda Radar Cruise Control.

With the debut of the facelifted Mazda 3 in Thailand, it shouldn’t be too long before the rival to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis is launched here in Malaysia, with such an event expected to take place within this year. Excited?

GALLERY: Mazda 3 facelift driven in Japan