2011 Mazda MAZDA3

Specifications prices Modifications and Image 2011 Mazda MAZDA3

When the appearance of the popular Mazda 3 was refreshed last year, its new smiling face didn't immediately win over some people, including us. Of course, the 2011 Mazda 3 looks the same, but now that folks have had a chance to warm up to the perpetually grinning car, it seems that the Mazda 3 is having the last laugh.

The main reason is that the Mazda 3's fun-to-drive personality has been not only preserved but also enhanced as part of last year's makeover. This means the steering is still communicative, the chassis even more athletic and the ride somewhat smoother, with less vibration coming into the cabin. Furthermore, the new-generation car with the base 2.0-liter four is better on gas compared to the older Mazda 3 base model, which was rather thirsty compared to fuel-sippers such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Though the base engine's performance is merely adequate, the available 2.5-liter mill is one of the most responsive and energetic in the segment.

While the exterior of the Mazda 3 might be controversial, the interior is hard to criticize. The 3 has long been known as having one of the nicest cabins in the economy car segment. One might even mistake the interior of a fully optioned Grand Touring version with its interesting design architecture and leather upholstery for that of an entry-level luxury car.

The Mazda 3 is also notable for the number of upmarket features that are available, including bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry and dual-zone automatic climate control. For 2011, the 3's appeal is further increased thanks to the addition of more standard features. All models now have stability control, while the Grand Touring trims receive the formerly optional Bose audio system and sunroof.

That said, the 2011 Mazda 3 might not please everybody, as some drivers could find the 3's ride too firm and the controls too complicated. For them, the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra are good alternatives. The Volkswagen Golf and Jetta could also be considered against the Mazda 3's higher trim levels, as the VWs also provide upscale cabins. Nonetheless, the 2011 Mazda 3 remains one of our top picks in the economy sedan class thanks to its pleasing driving demeanor, ample equipment, excellent quality and choice of body styles.
MAZDA3�s cockpit is configured to support the driver in a more dedicated manner than any sport-compact competitor. Two large instrument clusters are carefully positioned and clearly marked to deliver engine and road speed information. Key controls are located in the steering wheel spokes where they can be reached with minimum distraction. A Multi-Information Display screen containing navigation, audio, and trip information is positioned high on the instrument panel to avoid the need for the driver to refocus vision off the road ahead. A second screen slightly to the right provides station frequency and climate control setting information.

Mazda�s Human Machine Interface approach breaks the interior into three key zones: displays and controls used most frequently are located high and close to the driver to significantly reduce eye motion and refocusing; audio and climate controls are also elevated in the center stack to minimize the amount of head motion needed to change any setting; switches located on the door arm rest, steering column, and steering wheel are designed for intuitive operation so they can often be activated with no need for head or eye motion. Responding to the knowledge gained from human-machine studies, the MAZDA3�s center console is elevated to shorten the reach to the shift lever and parking brake more by than two inches compared to the previous generation.

In keeping with the Zoom-Zoom philosophy, the interior of every Mazda is not just a place to sit and travel, it�s the location where the joy of driving and the satisfaction of owning something special are delivered. From the pleasant sound of the entry chime to the gradual rise of interior illumination, every MAZDA3 interior design detail is carefully conceived and executed with high quality in mind. Roof pillars and the beltline are designed to maximize outward visibility and the feeling of roomy openness.

The instrument panel top cover is a padded, seamless, and elegantly grained surface that sweeps from the center console to both A-pillars. The center console provides two cupholders, a sliding armrest, and a roomy storage box, before blending in a continuous curve into the instrument panel. HVAC and audio controls are large, properly textured and illuminated to provide a visual feedback that a command has been received. A damper is included to smooth the opening and closing of the small compartment built into the instrument panel, the overhead sunglasses storage box and the roomy glove box.

Seating comfort is the result of front cushions extended by 0.8-inches over the previous generation model for enhanced thigh support. Likewise, seatbacks are reshaped for more lumbar support and were extended by 1.4-inches for added shoulder support. Optional sport-seat upper bolsters are canted inward aggressively for restraint during hard cornering. An eight-way driver�s seat with memory is available. Dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated seats, and a BOSE � Centerpoint audio system are other features seldom found on other sport compact competitors. The 5.1-channel surround sound system engineered cooperatively with BOSE� experts includes digital amplifier, noise cancellation technology, and an array of ten premium speakers.
Top versions of the MAZDA3 have a small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel and soft-touch surfaces finished with French-stitched seams. Seating areas are available in black or dune colors in both cloth and leather. All MAZDA3 interiors feature a black instrument panel with pewter-painted accents and dark grey carpeting. All models feature a 60-40 split-folding rear seat as standard to stretch the utility of the cargo compartment.

MAZDA3�s Multi-Information Display (MID) can be fitted with a unique navigation system that is patterned after the compact aftermarket navigational devices that provide guidance at an affordable price. Controls located on the steering wheel select the information to be displayed on the 4.1-inch LCD color screen. In addition to maps and turn-by-turn guidance, the screen conveys MP3 and iPod program information, trip data including fuel economy, plus various maintenance and alert messages. A monochromatic readout MID is also available without the navigational functions.

Advanced keyless entry allows a MAZDA3 driver to unlock the doors and start the engine with the key fob carried in a pocket or purse. A discrete door handle button and a start button on the dash are used in lieu of a key.

The addition of Bluetooth� capability in the new MAZDA3 provides wireless mobile phone and audio player connections and hands-free operation. Instrument panel and steering wheel switches can be used to sort through music selections.

A new Technology Package is available for the 2011 model year, which includes a full color MID with compact navigation, Sirius satellite radio, advanced keyless entry, push-button start, rain-sensing front windshield wipers, auto on/off, bi-xenon headlights with auto leveling and pivoting Adaptive Front-lighting System and LED rear combination taillights and a perimeter alarm.

Chief designer Kunihiko Kurisu describes the design concept as �inheriting MAZDA3�s established identity while making it more expressive.� He continues �I wanted to strengthen the Mazda brand with the MAZDA3 design. Key designers from not only Japan but also Mazda North American Operations and Mazda Motor Europe worked very closely to create an emotional design with an even richer expression.�

Jonathan Frear, who worked on the MAZDA3�s design for two years at Mazda Motor Europe, before joining Mazda North American Operations, and Carlos Salaff, a senior designer who made major contributions at the quarter-scale model stage, are both proud of what they have collectively achieved. �The MAZDA3 provided us an opportunity to translate new design cues into the reality of a car which Mazda customers can own, drive, and enjoy,� notes Frear.

MAZDA3�s design begins with a bold grille that is purposely polarizing. �Mazda has never been afraid of taking design risks,� says Salaff. �We always strive to push our exterior, to stretch what is considered normal. We wanted the MAZDA3�s dominant grille design to be bold because that will separate this car further from the blas� competitors and, by leaping ahead of the crowd, keep us looking fresh even late in this product�s life.�

Combining the two medium-sized grille openings used previously into one larger opening also pays functional dividends. Frear explains: �Shifting the air-intake lower on the car increases the pressure of the flow. As a result, the actual grille opening is 20-percent smaller than what was necessary with the previous generation MAZDA3. Most of the air is routed over the hood or around the sides of the car, yielding a significantly lower drag coefficient. (The previous drag coefficient ranged from 0.30 to 0.32, depending on bodystyle and tire size, and has now been reduced from 0.29 to 0.31). Cars equipped with an automatic transmission have a second driver�s-side inlet opening that routes air through a heat exchanger.

�It�s important to note that we have used the front bumper surface as a key MAZDA3 design element,� adds Frear. �The grille and various elements within its periphery are three dimensional so they literally flow into the surrounding surfaces. The Mazda �Winged-M� is large and prominently raised above the front body surface. Other flow lines are evident in the hood, down the sides of the car, and in the center of the decklid.

�The front-to-rear rise of the beltline gives the MAZDA3 a crouched, expectant look of a predator ready to pounce. This treatment also provides functional benefits. The low-in-front window opening provides excellent outward visibility. The driver can easily spot lane markings and the road surface close to the car. But a higher belt-line in the rear seat area gives occupants a greater sense of security. Likewise, the elevated decklid surface is both an aerodynamic aid and a means of maximizing trunk room.�

Salaff adds, �Designers always attempt to build a strong emotional connection with their customers. We do it through their hearts�by giving them cars they are genuinely proud to own. They appreciate the quality, they�re pleased with a reasonable price, but Mazda owners are most proud of how their cars drive and the attractive appearance. They expect their cars to be a reflection of their personalities, so Mazdas are purposely youthful and outgoing. Those character traits read through loud and clear in the MAZDA3�s design language.�
�We�re also conscious of the fact that this sport compact is likely to spend major portions of its life in urban areas. So the front end is purposely configured to connote the soul of a sports car. Those who pull up from behind or get passed by the MAZDA3 see the vivid taillamp execution and dual exhaust pipes in the case of the 3s model. The precision and attention to detail suggests a much more expensive automobile. And in the side surfaces, there�s ample evidence of our Zoom-Zoom spirit as interpreted by the Nagare design aesthetic.�

The 2011 Mazda 3i comes with a 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional on all but the 3i SV. Estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with the automatic -- the manual stands at 25/33/28. This is a few mpg less on the highway than class leaders.

The Mazda 3s is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 good for 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard here, with a five-speed automatic optional. In performance testing, a manual-equipped 3s went from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic (20/28/23 with the manual). Both fuel economy and acceleration are on par with similarly powerful small cars.

Mazda3 models now offer a choice of engines:

    *Standard  148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that teams with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission
    *Optional 167-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic
    *Automatic transmission models include a clutchless-manual mode that lets the driver control gear changes by nudging the console gear selector up or down.
Standard safety equipment on the 2011 Mazda 3 includes stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds testing, the 3s Grand Touring came to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet -- a solid performance for this type of car.

In government crash tests, the Mazda 3 earned five stars (the highest rating) in frontal impact protection for both driver and passenger. In side impact testing, the 3 scored five stars for the front passengers and four stars for the rear. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 3 earned the highest rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Standard features include:

    *Antilock brakes
    *Side-impact airbags for the front seats
    *Side curtain airbags and active front head restraints
    *Standard electronic stability system

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