We got the opportunity to get up close with the all-new Mazda 3 in Japan as part of an ASEAN sneak preview, so here’s a few galleries of the C-segment model in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The latest Mazda 3 is the first in the Japanese carmaker’s next-generation product line-up, and utilises the SkyActiv-Architecture platform that promises to deliver better ride comfort and performance on the road.

Dimension-wise, the hatchback now measures 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’s Kodo design philosophy is showcased with the new model, with particular emphasis on styling the hatchback to be the “bolder” choice compared to the sedan. From the front, the hatchback’s grille mesh features a diamond pattern as compared to flat pins found on the sedan. You’ll also notice the lower apron of the hatchback is devoid of the corner “inlets” that are seen on the sedan.

In profile, the differences between both body styles are even more apparent, and they aren’t limited to just the roofline and added boot space on the sedan. As previewed by the Vision Coupe from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda’s manipulation of light and shadow when shaping the sheet metal results in dramatic reflections when viewing the car from different angles.

This approach eliminates the need for prominent creases, and is evident on the Mazda 3, albeit with differing results. Where the reflections formed on the sedan can be considered “soothing,” the hatchback has a swooping arch that forms on the rear doors.

This curved back look is meant to accentuate the dramatic (and rather thick) C-pillar design, which should split opinions. Another minor point of distinction is the application of chrome on the window frame, whereby a long strip is placed above the window on the sedan, and below on the hatchback.

Moving towards the rear, both body types adopt a dual-circle design for the taillights, along with twin exhaust pipes. Once again, the hatchback, with its strong haunches, commands a greater presence than the sedan, which appears “tamer” by comparison.

A small note for those who are curious; the car on the far right (in the first photo) is finished in a new colour exclusive to the hatchback known as Polymetal Grey. It also comes fitted with a few optional extras available in Japan like a more aggressive front bumper, side skirts, a rear diffuser, a roof spoiler, black side mirror caps and 18-inch BBS forged aluminium wheels.

Getting back on topic, Mazda chief designer Yasutake Tsuchida explained that the design idea for the new Mazda 3 is “beauty through subtraction,” which as you can see, is exemplified on the exterior. However, this extends into the car’s cabin that is identical on the sedan and hatchback.

The new layout places greater focus on the driver, with two dedicated air vents and an infotainment display angled towards the person behind the wheel. The latter is now an 8.8-inch unit that is positioned further forward now, warranting the loss of touchscreen functionality. While some may lament this revision, the company says the latest Mazda Connect system (the new Mazda 3 is the first to get it) linked to the display has been completely revamped to deliver a more intuitive experience, negating the change.

Another display is found in the instrument cluster, where a seven-inch TFT-LCD unit (with multiple display functions) sits between two circles with analogue gauges within them. A head-up display that now projects further forward on the windscreen is also another new addition here.

In other areas, the passenger air vents are positioned on a horizontal plane that also features the climate controls and engine start button. Mazda has also overhauled the centre console for better ergonomics and practicality, starting with the centre console lid/arm rest whose “karakuri” mechanism involves sliding the lid back before it is lifted up so the elbow isn’t excessively raised.

The space under the lid is now much larger too, and can accommodate an iPad, smartphone and sunglasses comfortably. Ahead of this area is where you’ll find the infotainment controls followed by the gear lever, covered cupholders and a small storage cubby.

We’ll have a more detailed post highlighting all that’s new with the Mazda 3 later, including our first impressions of the model. For now, what do you think of the car’s design? If you’re curious when the rival to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis will arrive in Malaysia, we have early details here.

2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback

2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback with optional accessories

2019 Mazda 3 Sedan