Mazda began as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co Ltd, founded in Hiroshima, Japan in 1920. Toyo Cork Kogyo renamed itself to Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd in 1927.
In the late 1920s the company had to be saved from bankruptcy by Hiroshima Saving Bank and other business leaders in Hiroshima.
The company’s car development plans were halted during World War II with the bombing of Hiroshima. In the 1950s, Mazda began making small, four-wheeled trucks.
Mazda launched its first passenger car, the R360 Coupe, in 1960 in Japan. Seven years later, Mazda debuted the first rotary engine car, the Cosmo Sport 110S.
In recent years Mazda has pushed the boundaries of the simple petrol engine with their SKYACTIV technology.
Mazda now wants to ensure it delivers all its products, from the simple compact Mazda2 to the Mazda CX-9 SUV with the exact same interior quality, paint finish, materials and build finish.
It will be a tough task in a price sensitive market but Mazda is confident that they can succeed.
Let’s look at the all new Mazda3 sedan. Mazda has made it compact, agile, frugal and more comfortable than ever.
Firstly, the proportions are perfect; the overhangs are short, the wheels 18-inch large, the bonnet long and sexy. The nose is bold, the sides set off by deep sculptured fenders that would look more at home on a 2 door sports coupe.
The lights are attractive both front and rear and they form a pretty pattern when lit. This Mazda3 hasn’t been forged in a heavy metal factory.
Instead it has been designed with passion in a minimalist studio. Even the grille has a 21st century look, with the Mazda logo sitting centre.
One strong feature of this Mazda3 is its sheet metal design. No other competitor has the courage to chisel in curves and contours like this on an executive sedan.
Mazda’s designers have moved away from the norm and decided to keep a love it or hate it stance. It seems to work as owners will stand out in the car park and even better, their purchase will get noticed by both sexes.
The cockpit is lovely. The dash has form and shape. It’s a delight in your eyes. It feels upmarket thanks to carefully chosen materials and the way it flows seamlessly into the doors while the simple yet elegant instruments seem to float on a pool of lighting.
It has a long cabin that provides plenty of room and impressive amenities that makes this Mazda3 something of a unique proposition in the luxury sedan market.
New to the Mazda3 is the infotainment screen, which is larger and very well placed and the instrument cluster which incorporates a digitized screen into the main cluster.
The feel and steering weight are nicely balanced with a large dose of European feel. Mazda engineers have worked hard on ride comfort for the Mazda3, whatever the road surface.
They have succeeded to the point where it’s nearest Japanese competitors have not been able to mimic. Noise isolation in particular is so thorough that even the Klang Valley’s coarse bitumen fails to invade the interior.
On-road manners are difficult to fault, and as a relaxed cruiser, the Mazda3 is pretty hard to toss about. In keeping with its executive image, the ride is wonderfully balanced and compliant, absorbing road imperfections and hollows without wallowing or being skittish unnecessarily.
The steering is quick and relatively direct and torque steer is barely evident, even in the wet.
The well-tuned 6-speed semi-auto gearbox transmits power effortlessly and seamlessly to the front wheels. With six well-spaced gear ratios to pick from, the SKYACTIV engine can be kept singing at its best for most situations.
The biggest surprise with this new engine is what happens when the accelerator is given a decent prod. There is a surprising amount of surge on tap despite its modest proclaimed figures.
Its premium asking price of RM13,000 more than the outgoing model in a price sensitive market has been met with rather cautious showroom activity.
Malaysians are not used to paying a premium for a Japanese car brand that is not carrying a premium logo, Brands like Lexus and Infiniti took years to convince Malaysians and even today, they are not volume sellers, especially the Infiniti.
Take a test drive, feel the quality in the cabin. Drive along busy streets and enjoy the comfortable ride insulated against noise, vibration and harshness which is what luxury car buyers look for today. Then decide and understand why there is a premium in owning the new Mazda3.
Also, you get five-year free maintenance or 100,000km, whichever comes first including labour, parts and lubricants. This alone in today’s market is worth an easy RM10,000 and five year’s warranty or 100,000km whichever comes first.
Mazda3 2.0L SKYACTIV-G specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16V SKYACTIV-G
Gearbox: 6-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE Semi-Auto
Horsepower: 162bhp @ 6000
Torque: 213Nm @ 4000
Top speed: 216km/h
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