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Raising the bar

Mazda 3 Sedan 2.0L Premium

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When Bermaz Auto Philippines, local distributor of Mazda vehicles, launched the all-new Mazda 3 last year, it came in two body types: the Sportback for the “free spirit” and the Sedan for the “sophisticated” individual. This time, we get a closer look at the Premium 2.0L Sedan.

Less is more exterior

With the Japanese minimalist aesthetic in mind, the sedan was made to look sleeker, more elegant, and graceful. It’s slightly longer than the previous generation with its lower hood line. Typical character lines or creases on the sides panels are absent, and despite that, the cleaner look achieves a more sophisticated presence. They’ve also eliminated the need for fog lamps, engineering the headlights to illuminate the area usually lit by the fog lamps. The end product is ultimately a form which the designers claimed was “determined by the interplay of light, shadow and reflections of the surrounding environment.”

Up front, you get the new mesh design grille flanked by sleeker adaptive front-lighting system LED headlights with LED daytime running lamps. It’s equipped with an electric glass sunroof, as well as power adjust and power fold side mirrors with memory. You get dual exhaust pipes in the rear.  It rolls on Bridgestone Turanza 215/45 tires on 18-inch gun metal alloy rims.

You’ll have to look closer to spot more of the changes. For one, there’s hidden rain-sensing windshield wipers with washer nozzles integrated into the wiper assembly. The wipers also wipe more of the windscreen than the previous generation. There’s the hidden driver’s side key hole. This is because there are now hidden sensors for locking and unlocking the main door handles just by touch.

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Human-centric interior

Inside, everything is laid out where the driver needs them to be. With human biomechanics in mind, Mazda’s engineers made sure that the seating position is in the most natural human position at rest. This is intended not to stress the occupants. Manipulation of cabin features are in tune with one’s natural movements.  All of this was kept in mind while meeting the same goal as the exterior: less is more. They’ve reduced the visual clutter, to make sure nothing distracts you from driving.

Mazda’s craftsmen elevated the feel and quality in its looks, feel, and in the operation of its components. They went as far as making sure all the switches had the same tactile response, which is what you would expect in more premium-priced vehicles. Did they achieve this? With the abundance of soft touch surfaces, leather and premium materials, most definitely.

There’s a new windshield-projected heads-up display which they now call the Active Driving Display. It shows important information projected to look like it’s about 2.3 meters in front of the driver. Closer to the driver is the seven-inch TFT LCD multi meter display. It shows simplified vehicle status information which can be toggled to show coolant temperature, fuel level, efficiency, and also the trip and odometer.

The Mazda Connect infotainment system display is now wider at 8.8-inches with a simplified graphic user interface. The Command and Controller knob and switch is more ergonomic and intuitive, and they’ve removed the touchscreen interface which they’ve determined was distracting. Audio is via the premium 12-speaker Bose sound system which sounds amazing. Air conditioning is dual zone automatic with the rear occupants getting their own vents.

Under the hood

The 2.0L Premium Sedan gets a 13:1 high-compression 2.0L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder DOHC gasoline engine which puts out 154-Ps at 6,000 rpm with 200-Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, mated to the Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.  This offers a good amount of grunt, but power delivery is smooth and the automatic gearbox is responsive. It’s well-suited for both city and highway drives. Best of all, it can run on 91-RON fuel which will save you money at pumps. It’s also equipped with the engine i-STOP feature.

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Heightened safety

This Premium variant of the Mazda 3 Sedan gets the advanced i-Activsense technologies that sense various obstacles around the car, sound alarms or even brake for the driver in some cases. These include: Mazda Radar Cruise Control; Driver Monitoring System; Lane Departure Warning System; Cruising and Traffic Support; Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; and Rear Smart Brake Support.

Besides these, you get a 360-degree camera, seven airbags, an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), front and rear parking sensors, seatbelt reminder and pedal misuse alert. The rearview mirror is frameless and even automatically dims when there is a bright light source in the rear.

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How was it?

If you’ve experienced the previous generation, you’ll find this all-new Mazda 3 is so much more. We drove this car on the race track, the open road and in traffic. It was fun to drive in all three areas even with the Sport mode off.

One of the biggest improvements to this car is how quiet it is inside. Engineers worked to reduce the amount of noise that makes its way into the cabin, allowing you to enjoy your drive even more, hear conversations with your passengers or just enjoy the sound coming from the Bose speakers at a moderate volume while driving at high speeds.

The all-new Mazda 3 succeeds in elevating the premium experience in a car of this class. Their engineers have outdone themselves with a product with a look, feel, and features usually found in top end mid-sized executive sedans.

This 2.0-liter Premium Sedan is priced at Php 1,495,000.  Not bad for a luxurious car loaded with lots safety and convenience features. Whether or not you admit to yourself that you’re sophisticated, you’ll find something in this car that appeals to you.

Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan

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