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May 12, 2012 (10:09pm)
2006 MAZDA3: THE NO-COMPROMISE COMPACT CAR
May 13, 2012
IRVINE, Calif., - Compact usually means compromise. In exchange for an attractive sticker price and low running costs, compact car buyers often have to put up with budget build quality, miserly equipment and a mediocre drive.
Not so for buyers of the MAZDA3. Buy a MAZDA3, and you get a generous specification and a spirited Zoom-Zoom drive - all at a great price.
"The stylish and sporty MAZDA3 heads into 2006 with a new streamlined model line-up, increased standard specifications plus revised engines and transmissions to enhance performance," says David Dildy, MAZDA3 vehicle line manager for Mazda North American Operations. "In addition, the new s Touring and s Grand Touring models offer the value a compact-car buyer demands and the luxury appointments they would expect from a car costing thousands more."
For 2006 there are new paint colors and options packages and, with the introduction of new s Touring and s Grand Touring trim levels on both the 4-Door and 5-Door models, it is now even easier for customers to specify their perfectly equipped MAZDA3.
Mazda has upped the ante on performance by adding Variable Valve Timing (VVT) to the 2.0-liter engine to provide more power and better throttle response. Both 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter engines can now be specified with Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) equipment in the four states that require California emissions (NH, Mass., NY and VT). The 2.3-liter benefits from a new five-speed Sport A/T automatic transmission, (up from four speeds), as well as Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) and variable speed intermittent front wipers as standard equipment.
For many people, their car is a comfort zone in a stressful world, and Mazda has further improved on the relaxing features built into the MAZDA3. All models with air conditioning gain a pollen filter and outside temperature display in the center instrument panel. The newly-introduced 2.3-liter s Grand Touring, which replaces the 2005 special edition SP23, boasts
automatic climate control and a driving information system all for a lower price than a comparably-equipped 2005 model. An audiophile-pleasing Bose® Audio is now available on the s Grand Touring, when equipped with the moonroof and in-dash six-disc CD changer option package.
Also new to the range are two exterior colors: Copper Red Mica, replacing Lava Orange and Whitewater Pearl Mica, replacing Rally White on the 2.3-liter models.
ZOOM-ZOOM COMES STANDARD ON EVERY MAZDA3
Mazda doesn't expect buyers to pay extra for a great driving experience. In the MX-5 Miata and RX-8, Mazda has two of the world's best sports cars, the MAZDA3 has been recognized by owners and media alike as the driver's choice in the compact segment, and their DNA runs through the entire range. Every Mazda has Zoom-Zoom as standard.
The MAZDA3 comes with 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter powerplants. Both engines are MZR in-line, four-cylinder units with Variable Valve Timing (VVT). VVT provides linear power delivery, exceptional fuel economy and low emissions, together with exemplary smoothness and class-leading performance and driveability.
The 2.0-liter engine is available in the MAZDA3 4-Door only, with the 2.3-liter offered in both 4-Door and 5-Door models. Now fitted with VVT, the 2.0-liter engine produces 150 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 135 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. Mated to the smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission, this unit returns 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, and 26/34 with the optional four-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.3-liter engine -- the only engine choice for 5-Door models - puts out 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 150 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm. Fuel consumption is a very efficient 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the new five-speed Sport A/T and 26/32, with the manual transmission.
Mazda has paid particular attention to refinement throughout and that's clearly demonstrated by the MAZDA3 engine. It's an all-aluminum unit, which keeps it strong yet light, and an advanced deep-skirt engine block aids transmission coupling stiffness. Further reductions in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) were achieved with the use of lightweight pistons and connecting rods. By eliminating this NVH at its source, Mazda's engineers were able to avoid adding extra sound deadening material, which leads to increased weight and a subsequent loss of performance. It's this kind of detail thinking that contributes to the extremely high levels of quality and driveability that Mazda customers have come to expect.
The MAZDA3's green credentials are second-to-none, reflecting Mazda's commitment to protecting the environment. In the MAZDA3, both engines are now offered with Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) certification, making them 90-percent cleaner than the average new car. Evaporative emissions are completely eliminated by re-engineering the exhaust plumbing, repositioning the first catalytic converter and eco-friendly Electronic Control Unit (ECU) programming. The MAZDA3 gives up little in conversion to PZEV, with the 2.0-liter PZEV offering 145 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. In the 2.3-liter version, power is a very healthy 153 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and torque is barely changed at 149 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. PZEV equipment is covered by a comprehensive 150,000-mile component warranty. All MAZDA3 models also meet strict Tier II Bin 5 Federal emission regulations, which mandate near-zero evaporative emissions.
Affordable and efficient running are of utmost importance in a compact vehicle, and Mazda engineers have addressed this with their typical ingenuity. Both 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter engines are fitted with a maintenance-free timing chain that does not require regular replacement. Engine efficiency is enhanced by a stainless steel exhaust manifold, which optimizes exhaust gas flow for excellent power and torque. Further efficiencies are achieved with a low-friction finish on the camshafts and lifters to minimize valve train noise and resistance. Both engines boast a variable intake system that alters the length of the intake tract based on engine speed to maximize horsepower at high rpm and torque at low rpm. The MAZDA3's Electro-Hydraulic Power-Assisted Steering (EHPAS) system minimizes drag on the engine, increasing power and fuel economy and minimizing NVH.
Driving enjoyment is never forgotten in any Mazda and the slick-shifting five-speed manual transmission shares the sporty short throws of the MX-5 Miata and RX-8. Enhanced synchros improve gear-to-gear feel and a Teflon coating reduces friction and NVH.
Both automatic transmissions - with four speeds for the 2.0-liter engine and five speeds for the 2.3-liter - feature Mazda's Sport A/T system, which allows for fully automatic or driver-selectable manual gear selection. The five-speed transmission is new for 2006, and the extra gear makes for more lively performance without sacrificing a tall top gear for quiet and comfortable highway cruising.
Zoom-Zoom performance through corners is every bit as important as the MAZDA3's exhilarating straight-line speed. To that end, the MAZDA3 has a chassis and suspension designed to keep it glued to the road, without sacrificing ride comfort.
Cornering performance starts with a stiff and rigid chassis. The MAZDA3's frame offers vastly improved stiffness over its predecessors and competitors. With 40-percent greater flexural rigidity and torsional rigidity than previous compact Mazda models, Mazda's engineers were able to employ softer springs and dampers to provide a supple ride, yet still offer outstanding road holding.
The front suspension utilizes a MacPherson strut design employing struts with 35mm pistons with built-in rebound springs, providing a flat cornering stance and enhancing the handling feel without compromising comfort levels. Fluid-filled bushings attach the lower control arms to the sub-frame, which deadens road noise and shock transmission without sacrificing suspension rigidity or affecting steering feel. It's very unusual for these fluid-filled bushings to be used on this class of car as they are far more expensive to engineer than typical rubber bushings, but is typical of Mazda's attention to detail.
Multi-link rear suspension is employed. The independent lower links are attached to a rubber-bushed subframe with bushings chosen to increase straight-line stability and road holding. A rear stabilizer bar also is fitted to ensure minimal body roll and maximize handling performance and feel.
Stopping power is provided four-wheel disc brakes ventilated in the front and solid in the rear. The 4-Door MAZDA3 i receives 10.9-inch front brakes and 10.4-inch rears. MAZDA3 s 4-Door and 5-Door models receive 11.8-inch fronts with 11.0-inch rears. Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) are optional on 2.0-liter models and standard fit on 2.3-liter models.
SPACE AND GRACE TO MATCH THE PACE
Unlike many compacts, the MAZDA3 doesn't sacrifice style and comfort for size.
The MAZDA3 may be small on the outside, but it is remarkably roomy inside, boasting one of the largest cabins in its segment. The interior is longer, wider and taller than any other in its class, offering the most front and rear shoulder room among compact sedans and one of the best in its class for knee room.
The MAZDA3 also punches well above its weight when it comes to levels of comfort and standard equipment. The steering wheel is fitted with tilt and telescopic adjustment plus integrated audio and cruise controls.
The seats have been designed for long-distance comfort and leather-trimmed upholstery can be specified to add even more luxury to the plush cabin. A wide choice of interior colors, materials and optional equipment is available so customers can tailor their cars to their desires.
Attention to detail within the cabin is second-to-none, Mazda engineers created knobs and buttons with a positive, satisfying operating feel and even tuned the sound of the turn signal repeater to match the ambience of the interior.
Storage space is exceptional. The cavernous glovebox can swallow a laptop computer or 16 CD cases; a double-tiered center consol/armrest provides additional storage and there are two cupholders in the center console and bottle holders in each door.
With class-leading distance between the rear wheel wells, the MAZDA3 boasts a capacious luggage compartment. The rear seatbacks split 60/40 and fold almost flat to further increase space. The 5-Door luggage compartment itself can be organized to separate the cargo space into upper and lower sections and the rear floor section can be raised to create a partition. A sub-trunk area allows valuables to be hidden away out of sight.
The MAZDA3's stylish exterior is a perfect match for the design and detail of the interior. The precision engineering that is applied to the whole Mazda range ensures that panel gaps are both very small and consistent.
A long wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs, large diameter wheels and aggressively flared front and rear fenders convey the athletic tension and fun-to-drive character that is Zoom-Zoom.
The sleekly aggressive styling extends from the prominent Mazda five-point grille up and over the hood, is accentuated through the triangular C-pillar, flows over the rear and culminates in a sculpted trunk or tailgate with elongated rear combination lamps to accentuate the width. Fifteen-inch wheels come with the 2.0-liter i, with 16-inch alloys fitted to i Touring and s models as and 17-inch sculpted alloy wheels on the 2.3-liter 5-Door and 4-Door Touring models.
All MAZDA3 models gain body-colored mirrors, fog lamps and sporty front and rear bumpers. MAZDA3 s Touring models (and all 5-Doors) further benefit from side skirts and the Grand Touring gains xenon headlamps.
Highlights of the extensive options list available on some or all models include a DVD-based satellite navigation system and a seven-speaker Bose® premium audio system. All MAZDA3s have a Sirius® satellite radio compatible system. Mazda dealers need only add an antenna and receiver kit and customers can subscribe to activate more than 120 satellite channels. Models equipped with air conditioning have pollen filters and an outside temperature gauge. A four-function trip computer and automatic climate control come as standard on the 2.3-liter Grand Touring.
The range of exterior paint colors for 2006 includes Copper Red Mica to replace Lava Orange Mica, and Whitewater Pearl Mica to replace Rally White. Carbon Gray is no longer available.
PEACE OF MIND
Mazda's commitment to safety is clearly demonstrated by the MAZDA3's recent top three performance in a rollover study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The MAZDA3 also excels in front and side-impact tests thanks to its three-fork safety structure, which directs crash energy from the front of the car to the outer side-members and into the hinge pillar. The three-fork safety structure also sends energy laterally through a dash cross-member and downward into the side sills to minimize cabin deformation around the occupants' feet. An ultra-rigid safety cage hides beneath the skin of the MAZDA3.
Inside, the collapsible steering column moves forward to minimize potential chest injuries and the brake pedal also collapses to minimize foot injuries. All models offer Mazda's Advanced Restraint System employing driver's position and front passenger weight-sensing airbags and both side and side curtain airbags are available across the range.
A four-year roadside assistance program is standard with every Mazda. One call to a toll-free number provides roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. A free loaner car can also be provided in the event a warrantable condition requires the use of alternative transportation.
The MAZDA3 is covered by a comprehensive 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that covers every part of the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. A 5-year/unlimited mileage anti-corrosion warranty also is provided and PZEV vehicles are further covered by a 150,000-mile warranty on the additional PZEV components.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information on Mazda vehicles, visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com.