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Mazda: Mazda 3 2004

All-New 2004 MAZDA 3 Redefines the Compact Vehicle Segment -

The all-new MAZDA 3 combines the best qualities of its predecessors – GLC, 323, and, most recently, Protegé – and takes the compact class car to an entirely new level of refinement and quality. MAZDA 3 introduces a fresh, confident vision to a segment that has left the customers of other brands wanting more. With the MAZDA3 , Mazda provides to all those who seek a memorable driving experience a car that redefines style, build-quality and performance in a segment that has traditionally been focused on functionality and sales volume.


"The MAZDA 3 is the best-designed, best-engineered, and most fun-to-drive C-segment (compact) vehicle in the current market," said Akira Tanioka, MAZDA 3 program manager. "It truly does exceed our most demanding expectations."

The new MAZDA 3 introduces unmistakable Mazda styling and functional intelligence to the compact segment. As with all new-generation Mazda vehicles, its exterior design is dynamic and strong with a presence that visually communicates the exciting, fun-to-drive character that is the essence of a Mazda. Its roomy interior is designed to evoke excitement and delight with high levels of interior functionality and comfort.

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Available in two body styles – 4-Door and 5-Door – and three versions – MAZDA 3 i 4-Door (2.0-liter engine), MAZDA 3 s 4-door (2.3-liter engine) and MAZDA 3 s 5-Door (2.3-liter engine) – there is a choice for all buyers.

MAZDA 3 ’s exterior design, whether the 5-Door or 4-Door, is meant to express movement combined with muscular solidity and stability. Building on methods used to develop the company’s halo vehicle, RX-8, MAZDA 3 ’s interior is far roomier than the car’s exterior indicates. It is sporty yet comfortable, with functional storage solutions so important to a vehicle in this segment.

The 5-Door is dynamic with solid proportions created by a long wheelbase and cabin, short overhangs, large-diameter wheels and aggressively flared front and rear fenders. Even when viewed from a distance, the MAZDA 3 s 5-Door has an assertive presence.

Customer-led clinics and analysis for MAZDA 3 resulted in exterior dimensions and design attributes that ensure one of the roomiest interiors in the compact car segment. MAZDA 3 is one of the longest, widest and tallest vehicles in this segment. It also is relatively upright, despite its aggressive design. As a result, MAZDA3 is segment leading for front and rear shoulder-room and one of the best-in-class for knee-clearance, with a truly roomy interior with ample space for four adults to travel in comfort. All this is added to a host of intelligent storage compartments and a large, flexible luggage compartment.

Unusual for a car in this class, MAZDA 3 offers a standard tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Multi-adjustable driver and passenger seats allow occupants of practically all sizes to travel in comfort. Mazda designers and engineers even placed the parking brake beside and behind the gear lever, which they determined would allow smaller drivers to operate it more easily when the seat is in a forward position.

A choice of contrasting interior colors and materials offers MAZDA3 owners an opportunity to express their own personality and taste. These choices enhance MAZDA 3 ’s highly-ergonomic environment which, quite literally, envelops the driver to give greater comfort and control, and a heightened sense of connection to the car’s overall performance.

The MAZDA 3 s 5-Door offers segment-leading distance (width) between the rear wheel wells, which offers generous luggage compartment volume. When folded, the 60/40 rear seatbacks give an almost flat load floor (7 degree angle), yet the cushions still are shaped to be comfortable when used for seating. Luggage compartment flexibility with a sub-trunk area means valuables can be stored out of sight. In addition, the front floor section of the luggage compartment can be used to separate the luggage space into upper and lower sections, and the rear floor section can be raised to create a partition between the front and rear of the luggage compartment.

The MAZDA 3 s 4-Door is available with a sport package for a more aggressive personality and on-road presence. In developing the package, engineers focused on functional aesthetics and subtle details. More importantly, the development of the package was integral to the MAZDA 3 program, and the resulting components combine seamlessly with the body contours in a way that cannot be achieved with aftermarket parts. The sport package includes specific front and rear bumpers, side-skirts, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps and unique taillights. The sport package is standard on MAZDA 3 s 5-Door.

MAZDA 3 ’s engine line up is comprised of two MZR in-line, four-cylinder engines – 2.0-liter or 2.3-liter – that meet the demands of global customers looking for linear, lively power combined with low fuel consumption and emissions. Coupled to a smooth, electronically-controlled, four-speed automatic transmission with Sport A/T manual shift or a redesigned five-speed manual transmission, they contribute to that spirited driving experience that epitomizes Zoom-Zoom.

The 2.3-liter engine shares basic architecture with that of the MAZDA6 . This is a Mazda-designed and -engineered engine, and is shared with other Ford brands and vehicles globally. Construction is all-aluminum for light weight and ease of production, and the deep-skirt block design ensures superior transmission coupling stiffness. Stiffness of the drivetrain was an area engineers paid particular attention to, in order to combat NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness). Engineers went so far as to specify lightweight pistons and connecting rods for lower overall engine noise.

The MAZDA 3 4-Door is available with either the 2.0-liter engine (MAZDA 3 i 4-Door) or 2.3-liter engine (MAZDA 3 s 4-Door), while the 5-Door is only available with the 2.3 (MAZDA 3 s 5-Door). Producing 148hp at 6,500 rpm and 135 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, and returning 28 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway with the manual transmission, and 26/34 with the automatic, the MAZDA3 i 4-Door is both entertaining to drive and easy on the wallet.

In states requiring strict emissions, the MAZDA 3 i is available meeting Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) ratings. Due to changes made to exhaust plumbing and components, and to ECU programming, PZEV cars are rated at 144hp at 6,500 rpm and 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. All PZEV cars are covered by a comprehensive 150,000-mile emission component warranty.

MAZDA 3 s (both 4-door and 5-Door models) produces 160hp at 6,500 rpm and 150 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm and meet the strict Tier II, Bin 5 federal emission regulations. Fuel economy is 25 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway with the manual transmission. With the automatic, fuel economy is 24/29. To provide power at higher rpm levels while not sacrificing low-rpm drivability, the 2.3-liter engine incorporates Variable Valve Timing (VVT) on the intake valves. In addition, balance shafts are used to cancel unwanted NVH.

Shared by both engines are: a near-silent timing chain which needs no maintenance, unlike belts that require regular replacement; a stainless steel exhaust manifold to optimize exhaust gas flow for enhanced power and torque; and a low-friction finish on camshafts and lifters to minimize valvetrain noise and power-robbing friction. In addition, both engines are also equipped with a variable intake system that alters the length of the intake tract to optimize engine efficiency at all engine speeds as well as maximize horsepower at high rpm and torque at low rpm.

Regardless of engine or body style choice, MAZDA 3 is available with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic with manual shift mode.

MAZDA 3 ’s manual transmission received considerable attention during development. Because a cable-operated shift can often seem floppy or unconnected to the transmission, and often has poor in-gear feel, Mazda engineers worked hard to improve its feel. They chose to use all-new synchros to improve the gear-to-gear feel, as well as a Teflon coating on all internal components to reduce friction and NVH, as well as boost economy. Additionally, by ensuring the cable run is as straight as possible, much of the sloppy feel of some cable shifters was eliminated. The result is a transmission that is a pleasure to use, in the spirit of Miata and RX-8.

Automatic transmissions see a 20 percent faster shift response, especially in the 1-2 shift, which most directly increases acceleration feel and reduces 0-60 times. All automatics include Mazda’s Sport A/T system, which allows for manual operation of the automatic transmission. In addition, a slope-control logic provides natural deceleration on downhill grades and minimizes unwanted upshifts when driving uphill. All these changes improve the driving experience and minimize NVH.

To provide a flat cornering stance without sacrificing ride comfort, MAZDA 3 is fitted with a MacPherson strut design for the front suspension because of its low cost and ease of packaging. However, to get the handling feel necessary for this car, 35mm pistons were chosen – large for this size of car – with built-in rebound springs to control wheel movement. The lower control arms are attached to a subframe with fluid-filled bushings, which allows engineers to tune the handling feel for the desired effect and to absolutely minimize road noise and shock transmission to the cabin. The use of fluid-filled bushings is very unusual for this class of car and allows engineers to tune the bushing to a specific frequency to tune out NVH without affecting steering feel.

Rather than use a conventional engine-driven power-steering pump, MAZDA 3 ’s engineering team chose an electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering system (EHPAS). Using an electric motor to drive the pump minimizes drag on the engine, thereby increasing power and fuel economy, as well as minimizing NVH because there is one less item attached to the engine. The steering arms were kept short, and the steering gear mounted low on the subframe to minimize unwanted toe change in bounce and rebound situations. Of course, this means the car goes where you point it, under all road situations.

Brakes are all-disc on all cars, the fronts ventilated and the rears solid. MAZDA 3 i 4-Door receives 10.9-inch front brakes and 10.4-inch rears. MAZDA 3 s 4- and 5-Door models receive 11.8-inch fronts with 11.0-inch rears. ABS with EBD is optional on all cars.

Underneath the car, body engineers added braces to the subfloor and used tailor-welded blanks for the inner side panels and gussets in the rear suspension to minimize flexing. Specific to the MAZDA3 5-Door are reinforcements throughout the hatch area linking the rear side members and the rear opening to improve torsional rigidity.

Should all of these active safety features still not allow an accident to be avoided, a three-fork safety structure directs crash energy from the front of the car to the outer side-members and into the hinge pillar. In addition, it sends energy laterally through a dash cross-member and sends energy downward into the side sills to minimize cabin deformation around the occupants’ feet. All of these areas have been specifically strengthened, and they make for a rigid safety cage.

MAZDA 3 has a collapsible steering wheel, but this one is designed to collapse forward rather than in a slightly downward direction, as testing has found this minimizes chest injuries. MAZDA3 also has a collapsible brake pedal that brakes away in the event of a severe frontal accident to minimize foot injuries – a feature also found in MAZDA 6 and RX-8.

The option of side and side-curtain airbags means up to six airbags are available on MAZDA 3 . In addition, anti-lock brakes are available as an option on all models.

Like every Mazda model, MAZDA 3 comes with a four-year roadside assistance program. With a call to a toll-free number, MAZDA 3 owners can access roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. For all 2004 Mazda vehicles, the company will provide a free loaner car in the event a warrantable condition requires the use of alternative transportation.

The 2004 MAZDA 3 is covered by a comprehensive four-year/50,000-mile warranty that covers every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. In addition, MAZDA 3 is covered by a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.

(5 June 2004)

 photos: Mazda

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