Mazda North America held a preview party at its research and development center in Irvine, California, to show off the major refresh of its Mazda3 compact and Mazda6 midsize sedan.
Both cars received exterior styling updates, more soundproofing, an interior redo with more premium materials and the addition of G-Vectoring Control. The new technology is part safety feature and part performance feature. The electronic G-Vectoring system gives more precise control of the car, while reducing the need for steering corrections. It is all about greater confidence and control for the driver — and Jinba-Ittai, a driving experience of “horse and rider as one,” Mazda says.
The Mazda3, in five-door hatchback and sedan body styles, has a new, stronger face with a wider grille and chrome trim that was brought lower, said Julien Montousse, Mazda North America operations design director. The styling is a “defragmentation thematic,” he said at the reveal. It lends a three-dimensional quality to showcase more depth around the grille and headlamp connection, he said. (It is a similar treatment to the new CX-9 crossover.) The Mazda3’s rear bumper was also redesigned on the hatchback for “an upscale, monochromatic look to the lower valances.”
Interior updates include a new leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel and an option for perforated black or almond-colored leather-trimmed upholstery. An electronic parking brake is now standard equipment, and there’s a new sliding, covered center-console design, adapted from the Mazda6. The front doors have storage space that is three times larger than in previous models.
Available safety technologies include advanced blind-spot monitoring, traffic-sign recognition and a new, full-color Active Driving Display. The i-ACTIVSENSE safety suite includes rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control, smart city brake support and smart brake support for highway speeds.
A major mid-cycle redesign has become an industry trend to keep carmakers’ popular mainstream models competitive. It was just last year that the Mazda6 got a completely redesigned interior, a new front fascia design with full LED headlights (for high-end models), an LED-backlit “signature wing” grille, a seven-inch Mazda Connect display with commander control knob, white LED interior lighting, an electronic parking brake and a Sport mode switch for cars with automatic transmissions.
Inside the 2017 Mazda6 will continue the Mazda Premium positioning that was defined earlier this year by the CX-9. Soundproofing enhancements include improved door seals, tighter tolerances between panels and insulation materials added to the underbody, rear console, headliner and doors. There is also thicker front glass to block wind noise, and Grand Touring models get laminated front-side windows.
Upgrades to the Premium package include an option for Nappa leather upholstery with contrast-color piping, a black headliner, a heated steering wheel (with traditional Japanese chidori stitching) and heated rear seats. There’s also a new shiny metallic finish to switches and trim throughout the interior.
Advanced safety technologies include traffic-sign recognition (displayed in the navigation screen), lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring. Entry-level models include Mazda Connect as standard equipment.
The Mazda6 is one of the few midsize sedans in the U.S. where buyers have a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic as standard. All models are front-wheel drive and are powered by a 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
The 2017 Mazda6 arrives in dealerships in September. Sold in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels, starting prices range from $22,780 to $31,530, including the $835 freight charge.
The 2017 Mazda3 goes on sale in September, too, but pricing won’t be released until closer to its on-sale date.
MX-5 RF Launch Edition
Mazda also has opened ordering for its 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, or Retractable Fastback. Loyal customers have access to the special Launch Edition model, which is limited to 1,000 vehicles in the U.S. Equipped as a top-line Grand Touring model, the Launch Edition will have the exclusive Machine Gray Metallic paint color and Auburn Nappa leather interior trim, with a hand-painted black roof panel. The only option will be to choose a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Extras with the Launch Edition include a custom-designed and numbered 42mm Tourneau watch.
Expect deliveries of the MX-5 RF Launch Edition to begin in the first quarter of 2017. The rest of the line will be available afterward in Grand Touring or Club trim levels. Pricing will be announced in the coming weeks.
Mark Maynard is online at email@example.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage