Mazda has officially unveiled the all-new Mazda 3, which will go on display at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. A core model in the Japanese carmaker’s line-up, the fully redesigned, fourth-generation C-segment model is a showcase of the brand’s latest technologies and second-generation Kodo design philosophy.

Starting with the latter, the new Mazda 3 draws heavily from the Kai Concept that was revealed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. It isn’t an exact carbon copy, but the finished product is nearly identical, particularly when you look at the hatchback.

Up front, the hatchback shares a similar face with its sedan sibling, with a long bonnet that flows into a more aggressively-shaped front grille, which appear to have differing mesh inlays depending on the body style.

A pair of slim headlamps flank said grille, and they are linked by the familiar “wing” trim piece that is finished in either chrome or matte black. Much like what we saw with the Kai, there are subtle protrusions on the corners of the lower apron, with a narrow air inlet, pseudo lip and front fog lamp enclosures positioned nearby.

In profile, the divide between the sedan and hatchback is made even more clear, starting with the large C-pillars on the hatch that are severely toned down on the sedan as a result of the increased boot section. Wheel sizes listed are 16- and 18-inch sets.

As demonstrated with the Vision Coupe, Mazda is distancing itself from discernible character lines, so on the Mazda 3, the Japanese carmaker shaped the sides so linear transitions in light and shadow create a “vortex effect” that you see between the front and rear wheel arches.

Finer details include the presence of a roof-mounted spoiler on the hatchback, and if you notice closely, you’ll see the chrome window trim on the sedan is flipped for the hatchback. The paintwork on the hatchback is also unique to the body style, and Mazda calls it Polymetal Grey.

At the back, both models sport taillights with circular elements within them that are not unlike those on the Kai, and significantly different from the third-generation car. The lower section is mirrored on both cars, with slightly protruded sides framing the area that accommodates the number plate holder and reflector/fog lamps. Dual exhausts are present on both models, although there is additional black trim for the hatchback.

As this is the first time we’re seeing the sedan, the boot section is distinctively different from its predecessor. Less curvy than before, the boot now sports a small lip spoiler of sorts, while the repositioning of the number plate holder further results in a rather featureless main area.

For the interior, Mazda claims to incorporate the “less is more” ideal as part of its second-stage Kodo strategy. The dashboard is divided into two parts, with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen being placed in a small cubby up top. The screen is isolated from the climate control switchgear, which is placed in line with the centre and passenger-side air vents. Further down, the centre console plays host to both the controls for the revamped MZD Connect infotainment system (with eight speakers), gear lever and a flat armrest.

Meanwhile, Mazda’s driver-centric approach means the driver gets his/her own set of vents that are placed on either sides of the instrument binnacle, plus a completely new steering wheel design with a prominent (and protruding) boss. The instrument panel itself is also new, with three circular elements within them – the one in the middle is a LCD display.

Stylish as it may be, Mazda says the Mazda 3’s new cabin has improved NVH than its predecessor by adopting a “two-wall” structure that leaves space between the body and carpeting on the floor. Additional sound proofing materials have also been introduced, while tyres optimised vertical spring action and increased rigidity help prevent unwanted vibrations from being transmitted into the cabin.

In terms of powertrains, Mazda’s new SkyActiv-X compression ignition engine will be offered, and it will be supported by the brand’s M Hybrid system. Exact details have yet to be revealed but we will update this space as more information trickles in.

Conventional internal combustion engines from the SkyActiv-G petrol and SkyActiv-D diesel range will also be available, with the former including 1.5-, 2.0- and 2.5-litre units, while the oil burner is a 1.8 litre powerplant. Transmission options include a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, with Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system being present, which works with the G-Vectoring Control Plus system already found on the latest CX-5.

The new Mazda 3 is built on the company’s SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture with increased rigidity thanks to new front-to-back connections that complement existing vertical and lateral connections of the previous body to form multi-directional ring structures. MacPherson struts are used at the front, while a newly developed torsion beam is used in the rear, replacing the multi-link setup used for the third-gen model.

There are dimension revisions as a result of the new skeleton, with the hatchback measuring 4,459 mm long (-1 mm compared to its predecessor), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,440 mm tall (-10 mm). The sedan on the other hand, is 4,662 mm long (+82 mm), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,445 mm tall (+5 mm). Both also have a longer wheelbase at 2,725 mm (+25 mm).

Mazda says the new structure has a higher ratio of ultra-high-tensile steel at 30% compared to the previous model’s 3%. This helps to create a more solid body to beef up passive safety, while a new standard driver’s knee airbag and energy-absorbing inner structure for the bonnet further help this cause.

The i-Activsense suite of active safety and driver assist systems has also been given a boost, with a new Driver Monitoring system that utilises an infrared camera and LED to observe the driver’s condition. Other additions include Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) and Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS), a form of low-speed adaptive cruise control.

“The all-new Mazda3 we unveil today begins a new era for Mazda. The next generation of Mazda cars will enhance the value of the car-ownership experience. Though these products, we will further raise Mazda’s brand value and work towards our goal of building strong bonds with customers all over the world,” said Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s representative director, president and CEO. The new Mazda 3 will rolled out to global markets starting from North America in early 2019.

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