Mazda 3

Carpedia

Nov 25th, 2019

Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 took over where the 323 series left off and realized Mazda’s goal of developing a simple C-segment family car into an affordable vehicle with remarkable handling, more than adequate performance, and upscale styling. 

First Generation (BK), 2003-2009

The first-generation Mazda 3 was designed to appeal to almost all driving generations. The sedan looked more like a coupe and more akin to European-styled cars rather than its Japanese contemporaries. The hatchback wasn't far behind either - it even got branded as the sports version in Japan and North America.

With Ford still owning a considerable stake in Mazda and having bought Volvo a few years earlier, these automakers got to share platforms. So the C1 platform that underpinned the Volvo S40 and the Ford Focus was the same one used in the Mazda 3. Front suspension is through MacPherson struts with coil springs and anti-roll bars, while the rear used the multi-link suspension designed by Ford. It used disc brakes on all four wheels, and ABS and electronic brake-force distribution were either standard or optional depending on the variant and region.

Mazda released the five-door hatchbacks and sedans in Australia with two engine choices: a 2.0L (104 kW / 181 Nm) powered the Maxx, Maxx Sport and Neo, while a 2.3L (115 kW / 203 Nm) generated power for the SP23 variant. Transmission options included a 4-speed auto or a 5-speed manual gearbox. In 2008, the range welcomed a diesel variant powered by a 2.0L MZR-CD common rail diesel (105 kW / 360 Nm).

Other regions received a variation of engine options and trims, depending on their emissions regulations.

  • 1.4L MZR Z (62 kW / 122 Nm) 
  • 1.5L MZR ZY-VE (82 kW / 140 Nm) 
  • 1.6L MZR ZM-DE (78 kW / 145 Nm) 
  • 2.0L MZR L (110 kW / 183 Nm) 
  • 2.0L MZR LF-VD (110 kW / 187 Nm)
  • 2.3L MZR L (115 kW / 203 Nm)
  • 1.6L MZ-CD Diesel (80 kW / 240 Nm)
  • 2.0L MZR-CD diesel (105 kW / 360 Nm)
  • 2.3L DISI MZR diesel (190 kW / 380 Nm)

In 2006, Mazda incorporated its variable valve timing (VVT) and variable-length intake manifold (VLIM) into the 2.0L engines, producing an extra 7 kW of power. In 2007, updates included the front fascia, bumper, lights and lower intake openings, along with some mechanical upgrades to improve handling and steering.

Second Generation (BL), 2009-2013

New body styling in the second-generation Mazda 3 gave this car a more aggressive look. Mazda carried over the C1 platform to this model, although the Mazda 3 became slightly longer and wider than before but weighing about 80kg lighter. It also received various safety and mechanical upgrades. 

This generation offered many hatchback and sedan variants to cater to a wide variety of buyers - from those looking for a comfortable compact vehicle to those raring for a more luxurious or sporty ride. The Mazda 3 vied with other makes and models as one of the most popular small family cars in Australia and became the most popular compact car in the country by 2011. The MZR (MaZda Responsive) series engines powered this generation but later supplemented by the more fuel-efficient and more powerful SkyActiv series.

The Neo, Maxx and Maxx Sport had an improved 2.0L MZR LF-VDS (108 kW / 182 Nm) available in either a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. The hatchback MPS and MPS Luxury Mazdaspeed 3 were both powered by a turbocharged 2.3L MZR L3-VDT (190 kW / 380 Nm) coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The SP25, upgraded from the SP23, now sported a 2.5L MZR L5-VE (122 kW / 227 Nm) offered in either a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. A diesel version was offered in this series with a 2.2L MZR R2 (110 kW / 360 Nm) mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. In 2012, the SP20 Skyactiv and SP20 Skyactiv Luxury joined the range, powered by a 2.0L Skyactiv-G turbocharged (113 kW / 194 Nm) available with a 6-speed automatic.

Mazda also offered the Australian-spec engine options in other parts of the world with additional variants depending on the region. Power and torque ratings varied slightly. Additional offerings were the 1.5L MZR ZY-VE (82 kW / 140 Nm), 2.0L MZR LF-VE (105 kW / 179 Nm) and the 1.6L MZR ZM-DE (78 kW / 104 Nm).

Third Generation (BM & BN), 2013-2018

The third generation marked the full introduction of the SkyActiv line. Chassis, engine and gearbox development under the SkyActiv marque first appeared in 2011. Beginning as the Mazda Sky Concept, it evolved to this generation's SkyActiv-G of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines with chain-driven dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT). 

Now, it sports a more mannered body style and well-appointed interior even on the base models. Mazda's 'Soul of Motion' design code now produced a sedan with a drag coefficient of 0.26, which offers a sports coupe feel and styling.

In 2014, the Max, Max Safety, Neo, Neo Safety, Touring and Touring Safety rolled out on Australian soil, powered by the 2.0L Skyactiv-G PE-VPS (114 kW / 200 Nm) available with either a SkyActiv 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. The SP25, SP25 Safety, SP25 GT, SP25 GT Safety, SP25 GT Sunroof and SP25 Astina were all powered by the 2.5L Skyactiv-G PY-VPS (138 kW / 250 Nm) available with either a SkyActiv 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual gearbox. The diesel option was now only available as the XD Astina hatchback with a 2.2L Skyactiv-D SH-VPTS turbocharged (129 kW / 420 Nm) available with either a SkyActiv 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual gearbox.

Worldwide engine options were the same offering in Australia with additional options being the 1.5L Skyactiv-G F-P5 (85 kW / 150 Nm), 1.6L MZR ZM-DE (78 kW / 104 Nm) and a diesel variant the 1.5L SkyActiv-D S5-DPTS/S5-DPTR (77 kW / 270 Nm).

In 2016, the sedans and hatchbacks welcomed restyled front exterior and interior dash layout, with the hatchback also getting a modified rear exterior. This series (called the BN series) also received upgraded safety and driver assistance features.

Fourth Generation (BP), 2019-Present

Mazda released the current generation of the Mazda 3 in 2019, promoting the series as redesigned from the ground up, focusing on the reduction of audible and visual noises, especially vibrations in the engines and gearboxes. The new Mazda 3 has a sleek form, with body lines seamlessly flowing from front to rear.

Standard safety, mechanical, and entertainment features abound with a list of additional options that buyers could customize depending on individual taste and budget. With the cumulative sales of the Mazda 3 series breaking the 6 million mark of units sold since its introduction in 2003, the current version may likely continue the trend of being one of the most popular cars in this class.

Australian buyers have two petrol options. The 2.0L Skyactiv-G PE-VPS engine (114 kW / 200 Nm) powers the G20 Pure, Evolve, and Touring, available with either a SkyActiv 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. The other option is the 2.5L Skyactiv-G PY-VPS (138 kW / 250 Nm), which powers the G25 Evolve, GT and Aspina and comes with either a SkyActiv 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual.

Other regions also offer 1.5L Skyactiv-G F-P5 (85 kW / 150 Nm), 2.0L Skyactiv-X (132 kW / 224 Nm). The diesel variant is now limited to one engine option being the 1.8L Skyactiv-D S8-DPTS/DPTR turbo (85 kW / 270 Nm).

The Mazda 3 is still Mazda's offering for the compact class segment. With the first cars in the series now past 15 years old, continuous maintenance of these cars will preserve its usability and resale value. If you need car parts for any Mazda 3 generation or would like to sell its parts or an entire automobile, visit our website or contact us at hello@carpart.com.au to connect with sellers or buyers in Australia.

-Jarad