Avatar photo

By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Tech upgrades applied to Mazda3 in Japan, South Africa next?

Sales of the 3 have dwindled in South Africa over the last few years, though the upgrades could still feature should Mazda give approval.


A model that has faded in recent years since making its dramatic entry at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2018, Mazda has nonetheless stuck with its rival for the Volkswagen Golf, the 3, by affording it a subtle overhaul in its home market.

Due also in Australia from June this year, the Hiroshima automaker has kept the exterior completely unchanged, bar a new colour option called Ceramic Metallic.

Mazda3 gains tech upgrades in Japan
Rear-end remains a 3 standout. Image: Mazda

Inside revised

Where the bulk of the revisions have taken place though is inside where Mazda has swapped the type-C for type-A USB ports on flagship models, fitted a new wireless smartphone charger and increased the size of the non-touchscreen MZD Connect infotainment system from 8.8-inches to 10.25-inches.

ALSO READ: What a pity this Mazda is off limits to South Africa

Japanese models also receive Remote Engine Start as standard on all automatic derivatives, with other adaptions being a revised Driver Attention Alert system, with what Mazda calls Inattentive Warning that sounds an alarm should it detect the driver not paying attention to the road ahead.

Mazda3 gains tech upgrades in Japan
To the untrained eye, the 3’s interior hasn’t been changed. Image: Mazda.

Varied engine choices

As before, the Mazda3 will again be offered as either a hatch or sedan, with models in Japan having a choice of four engines; an 82kW/146Nm 1.5 SkyActiv-G petrol, a mild-hybrid 2.0 SkyActiv-G delivering 115kW/199Nm, the 132kW/224Nm spark controlled compression ignition 2.0 SkyActiv-X and the 1.8 SkyActiv-D turbodiesel rated at 85kW/270Nm.

Transmission options again comprise of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, although the former will only be found on the hatch as the sedan is equipped solely with the self-shifter. A further option is four-wheel-drive, but again, only in combination with the automatic.

Mazda incrementally updates 3
New infotainment system, once again controlled solely via a rotary dial, now measures 10.25-inches instead of 8.8-inches. Image: Mazda

Outside of Japan, and more specifically Australia, the 3 loses not only the mild-hybrid and SkyActiv-X powerplants due to poor sales, but also the manual gearbox as it only made-up 5% of offset last year.

It therefore leaves two engines; the non-hybrid 2.0-litre rated at 114kW/200Nm and the 2.5 SkyActiv-G petrol that pumps out 139kW/252Nm. Unlike in Japan, all variants sold Down Under are front-wheel-drive only.

Mazda incrementally updates 3
Wireless smartphone charger now resides in front of the gear lever. Image: Mazda

In the United States, where sales of the facelift 3 have so far not been confirmed, Mazda is also expected to offer the market exclusive 2.5-litre turbo, whose 169kW/420Nm goes to all four corners via the six-speed auto ‘box.

South Africa with a chance?

For now, Mazda South Africa has not commented on whether the updates will be applied to the 3 in the domestic market 3, whose sales have dropped considerably to less than three figures in the monthly Naamsa report since the current model debuted in 2019.

Should approval be given, expect the eventual roll-out to begin later in the year and with a likely price hike over the range’s current starting price of R421 900 for the entry-level 1.5 Active manual.

NOW READ: Mazda3 Sedan no more as SUVs take over

Read more on these topics

Mazda Motoring News new car