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Mazda introduces CX-3, “the First-Ever Freestyle Crossover”

that you can move like never before
  • Powerful performance with the 1500cc Clean Diesel SKYACTIV-D engine with lightweight variable turbocharger and 23.3km/l fuel economy.
  • High-efficiency 2000cc SKYACTIV-G petrol engine with 156 horsepower and 16.4km/l fuel economy.
  • Fully-loaded with SKYACTIV technologies.
  • Attractive KODO design.
  • Complete i-ACTIVSENSE safety technology, a first for the subcompact crossover SUV segment.
  • MZD Connect offers social media connectivity.
Bangkok – Thailand, November 10, 2015 – Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co. Ltd. confirms its innovative leadership with the official introduction of the all-new CX-3 “Freestyle Crossover”. Featuring the slogan “See the World in New Angle”, the CX-3 is the fourth new SKYACTIV model to be launched in Thailand, featuring the sensuous “KODO: Soul of Motion” design theme and complete global safety packaging. This is also the first time that Mazda is offering the most powerful engine choices in the subcompact crossover segment – the 1500cc “Clean Diesel” engine delivering an exceptionally low fuel consumption of 23.3km/l and the 2000cc gasoline engine offering a fuel economy of 16.4km/l.
Along with the performance, Mazda is also offering the highest connectivity options with the MZD Connect system allowing users to log into social media. Meanwhile, the world-class safety technology i-ACTIVSENSE provides all-round protection that sets a new benchmark in the subcompact crossover market. The CX-3 is targeted at buyers with an active lifestyle both in the city and out with its compact but highly versatile design.
Mr. Hidesuke Takesue, President of Mazda Sales Thailand said the Mazda CX-3 sets new standards in the subcompact crossover segment. Customers will enjoy the highly attractive styling, as well as class-leading performance and fuel economy, with both diesel and gasoline power plants being available.
“The arrival of the Mazda CX-3 represents the fourth SKYACTIV model following the CX-5, Mazda3 and Mazda2 that were highly successful in the Thai market with accumulated sales of more than 40,000 units. The introduction of the CX-3 will help Mazda achieve our sales target of 45,000 units this fiscal year,” he said.
“With pricing being one of the priorities for Mazda, the CX-3’s starting price is only Bt800, 000-plus, and we expect it to quickly gain popularity with annual sales of over 6,000 units,” he added.
This has been another year that Mazda rolled out new models continuously, proving the increased popularity of the brand in Thailand as customers quickly responded to the new SKYACTIV models. Sales during the first 10 months of the year (Jan-Oct) reached 29,641 units. Despite the auto market shrinkage, Mazda has been able to win a 4.8-per cent market share, comprising of the Mazda2 (14,695 units), Mazda3 (5,801 units), CX-5 (2,745 units), BT-50 PRO (6,357 units) and premium models (17 units).
Mr. Hidesuke added that the launch of the Mazda CX-3 is the pride of Mazda and is result of strong cooperation between Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co. Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corporation, resulting in production taking place at the AutoAlliance Thailand assembly plant in Rayong by Thai craftsmen.
“Mazda gives utmost importance to strengthening the Asean business, particularly in Thailand where we invested more than Bt12 billion to expand the Mazda2 production at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant for the Eco Car Phase 2 program, as well as another Bt11 billion for the SKYACTIV automatic transmission plant, plus another Bt3 billion for the SKYACTIV engine plant. Most recently, we invested Bt800 million for the production of the Mazda CX-3, and every project is now up and running,” he said.
Marketing Director Thee Permpongpanth adds: “The introduction of the CX-3 is very important for Mazda as we have been informing customers about the SKYACTIV technology and KODO design continuously, and this has raised their expectations of our products.”
The outstanding qualities that will enable the all-new Mazda CX-3 SKYACTIV to successfully break into the market are the comprehensive mix of globally-acclaimed technologies boing offered in the subcompact crossover market for the first time.
“The CX-3 sets the latest benchmark in the market with two powerful engine choices, outstanding design and premium-grade materials,” he said.
In terms of marketing communications, the new CX-3 comes with the “Freestyle Crossover” concept, representing the first time that a vehicle responding perfectly to increasingly growing city and urban needs. Customers from the “YUCCIES” (Young Urban Creatives) group think out of the box, have their own favorite brands, and have high purchasing power/good education. Among the qualities that will help the Mazda CX-3 ensure success in the Thai market in a short period of time are as follows.
  1. Design – The “KODO: Soul of Motion” design theme is reflected in this sixth-generation model, giving the latest subcompact crossover highly attractive looks that easily stirs up the emotions.
  2. The CX-3 is fully loaded with SKYACTIV technology while high-grade premium materials have been selected for each component.
The all new Mazda CX-3 SKYACTIV has been developed to become the best-performing model in its class, delivering an experience no other subcompact crossovers can offer.
  • Choice of two SKYACTIV engines – the 1,500cc SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel power plant capable of producing 105hp and 270Nm plus outstanding fuel economy of 23.3km/l; and the 2,000cc SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine capable of pumping out 156hp and 204Nm, with a fuel economy of 16.4km/l.
  • SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed transmission provides swift and precise response as manual gearboxes, along with improved power delivery and fuel economy. With power and torque being transmitted efficiently to the driving wheels with less frictional and thermal loss, performance and efficiency is improved.
  • SKYACTIV-BODY is lighter and more suitable to the size and power of the engines, while high-tensile steel enhancements, which are lighter but more rigid, are used along with increased welding area, resulting in greater safety and fuel economy.
  • SKYACTIV-CHASSIS comprising of the SKYACTIV suspension and steering systems providing excellent roadholding while maintaining a good level of ride comfort. The new steering system is more precise and allows for superior cornering performance and safety.
  1. i-ACTIVSENSE is Mazda’s advanced safety technology that was developed according to the “Mazda Proactive Safety” philosophy displaying Mazda’s ideas towards safety. The system warns the driver of possible danger and allows him or her to make the right decision. These technologies were designed to prevent or reduce the intensity of accidents, and are being deployed in the subcompact crossover segment for the first time. These advanced safety features consist of:
    • ABSM (Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring) – warns the driver when there is a vehicle located within the sideview mirror blindspot
    • HBC (High Beam Control) - -automatically switches on high beam when possible.
    • LDWS (Lane Departure Warning System) – warns the driver when the vehicle changes lanes.
    • RCTA (Rear Cross Traffic Alert) – warns the driver of cross traffic while reversing.
    • SCBS (Smart City Brake Support) – automatically applies brakes if vehicle is getting too close to front obstacle.
  1. MZD CONNECT connectivity system that has been developed with HMI (Human-Machine Interface) in mind. The heads-up cockpit design and various connectivity systems in the vehicle are designed for safe driving and provide the driver with the highest amount of concentration while obtaining a large amount of vital information.
Apart from developing new technologies and introducing new products to the market, another important mission for Mazda that we have been carrying out all along in order to ensure sustainable growth, is to build a clear and strong brand image. It isn’t only about building cars, but it is also about creating joy and fulfilling an emotional experience for customers, starting from the first encounter to the first touch and the desire to drive again and again. And apart from creating an excellent vehicle, the service must also be outstanding, in order to create maximum customer satisfaction.
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Speech by
Mr. Hidesuke Takesue
President of Mazda Sales Thailand Co., Ltd.
All-New Mazda CX-3 Official Launch
Plenary Hall, Queen Sirikit National Conventional Center - November 10, 2015
Good morning members of the media and distinguished guests, welcome to the official launch ceremony of the first “Freestyle Crossover”, the all-new Mazda CX-3.
Mazda has always given utmost importance to the Thai auto market because Thailand is an important strategic production and export base, representing one of the four main production hubs for Mazda globally, as well as being Mazda’s number one market in the Asean region.
Mazda has given importance to the strengthening of the Asean business, particularly in Thailand, where we invested more than 12 billion Baht to expand production capacity at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant for the Mazda2 under the Thai government’s Eco Car Phase 2 program. Mazda also invested another 11 billion Baht to build the first SKYACTIV transmission plant outside of Japan here, and 3 billion Baht for a SKYACTIV engine plant. Most recently Mazda invested an additional 800 million Baht for the production of the CX-3. Today every project has been completed while production and sales have already begun.
All this makes Thailand one of Mazda’s most important strategic locations. Since Mazda started introducing latest-generation models featuring the SKYACTIV technology, the brand’s popularity around the world have grown at unprecedented levels, including in Thailand. The success that roots from the increased popularity and sales started with the first SKYACTIV product, the CX-5, followed by the Mazda3 and the Mazda2 at the start of this year. And today we will meet the latest member of the Mazda SKYACTIV family – the All-New Mazda CX-3.
The introduction of new models into the market continuously during the recent past has shown how quickly customers have accepted Mazda products. During the first 10 months of this year (January to October), Mazda achieved total sales of 29,641 units and clinched a remarkable 4.8-per cent market share. Sales comprise of the Mazda2 (14,895 units), Mazda3 (5,801 units), CX-5 (2,745 units), BT-50 PRO (6,357 units) and premium models (17 units).
The introduction of the CX-3 SKYACTIV today is another pride for Mazda which will bring success in terms of achieving target sales as well as filling up an important market segment. We expect over 6,000-units sales for the CX-3 per year.
An important point is that the CX-3 SKYACTIV presents the latest and most popular technologies, in a compact crossover package setting a new benchmark that is led by high quality and elegant appearance. It comes with the “Freestyle Crossover” concept that responds to increasingly-changing city and urban lifestyles. Customers in this segment are creative and think “out of the box”, preferring to enjoy life to the fullest. They have favorite brands and have high education and purchasing power.
We are confident that the Mazda CX-3 Freestyle Crossover will receive highly positive market response and achieve tremendous success in Thailand thanks to its outstanding qualities.
First is the design. With the elegant styling carrying the 6th-generation “KODO: Soul of Motion” design philosophy, the CX-3 comes with looks that are hard to resist.
Secondly, it is fully loaded with the latest SKYACTIV technologies and features top-notch materials being used in the production process. The Mazda CX-3 has been developed in order to deliver class-leading performance that no other compact crossover has been able to achieve before.
  • SKYACTIV power plants are available for both fuel types. The latest-generation Mazda SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel 1,500cc engine with lightweight variable turbocharger, delivers a super-efficient fuel economy of 23.3km/liter, while the 2,000cc SKYACTIV-G petrol engine shines in its segment with a fuel economy of 16.4km/liter.
  • SKYACTIV DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission offers precise response like a manual gearbox along with improved power delivery and fuel economy.
  • SKYACTIV BODY is a newly-developed body structure that is lighter but stronger thanks to use of rigid and lightweight high-tensile steel.
  • SKYACTIV CHASSIS comprising of the steering and suspension systems provide the driver with high-speed stability and sharp handling while maintaining a good level of ride comfort.
Thirdly is i-ACTIVSENSE high-level safety technology from Mazda that has been developed according to the “Mazda Proactive Safety” philosophy. It reflects Mazda’s ideology concerning safety, and helps the driver to sense potential danger before it actually happens in order to make the right decision. These technologies were designed to prevent or lower damages from accidents.
Fourth is MZD CONNECT connectivity system that has been developed with HMI (Human-Machine Interface) in mind. The heads-up cockpit design and various connectivity systems in the vehicle are designed for safe driving and provide the driver with the highest amount of concentration while obtaining a large amount of vital information.
An important mission for Mazda is to create a clear and unique brand image. It isn’t only about building cars, but it is also about creating joy and offering an emotional experience for customers, starting from the first encounter to first touch and the desire to drive again and again. And apart from creating an excellent vehicle, the service must also be outstanding.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for your continued support. I am truly grateful for the warm friendship given to Mazda throughout. And I also thank you for your presence here today despite your tight schedules.

Thank you very much.
Message from the Program Manager
Creating the standard for a new era
Throughout the history of the automobile, starting from the time when each family longed to own their first, cars have carried not only people, but their dreams as well. I myself have been taken with a large number of cars over the years, and I clearly remember the first time I felt that feeling inside that said, “This is the one!!” The thrill of seeing that car with my own eyes, having yearned after it for so long, was a formative experience I will never forget.
However, over the years, people’s lifestyles and values have changed drastically, and their expectations and requirements of automobiles have grown more and more diverse. As a result, more people are choosing cars based on their comfort and practicality as a means of transportation. The car as an object of desire is slowly disappearing.
Cars of various shapes and sizes, including wagons, minivans and SUVs have appeared in response to customers’ desire for cars with the space and practicality to suit their respective lifestyles. This has led to the formation of stereotypes regarding each type and size of car that tend to dictate the owner’s lifestyle and way of using the vehicle.
Since 2011, Mazda has released one product after another that delivers driving pleasure through convention-defying SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, and KODO—Soul of Motion, our groundbreaking new design language. Following on from the Mazda CX-5, we completely reinvented each of our core models one by one; the Mazda6, the Mazda3 and recently the Mazda2. Now our dream is to create a completely new car capable of heralding in a new era; a car that will provide a whole new generation with that feeling of, “This is the one!!”
Our stated aim for the development of the Mazda CX-3 was to, “Create the standard for a new era.” We challenged ourselves to build a new car capable of overturning stereotypes about how a vehicle of a certain type or size should be used. Our aim was to create a car that could be used anywhere, and in any way, to support the customer’s creative lifestyle. The result of this challenge was the Mazda CX-3.
Rather than focusing on spec sheet values, we went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves what are the essential values that people seek in a car. In this way we aimed to build a car that stimulates the customer’s sensibilities by closely matching the human senses.
The CX-3 offers a design of the finest quality and style thanks to KODO design language. It adopts the full suite of SKYACTIV technologies and has been carefully crafted to match human sensibilities in order to deliver performance that can be enjoyed without reservation. Its size and packaging aim to make it easy to use in a wide variety of situations. The product of Mazda’s latest design and technologies, the CX-3 is a vehicle that can suit the diverse lifestyles of today’s customers in any scene, from inner-city driving to enjoying the great outdoors. The CX-3 will enable customers to express their unique individuality, unencumbered by other people’s sense of values. I am certain that this car will exceed their expectations and add stimulation to their active lifestyle for many years to come.
With the CX-3 Mazda aims to create the standard for a new era, and I hope you all have a chance to experience its appeals for yourself. Nothing would make me happier than if this model encourages people to rediscover the intrinsic appeals of the automobile.

Michio Tomiyama
Mazda CX-3 Program Manager

Message from the Chief Designer
Transcending the genre to sprint beautifully towards a new era
“A design that appeals to progressive customers who aspire to a trend-setting lifestyle at the cutting-edge of the post-modern age.” This was the design mission for our brand new product, the Mazda CX-3. Customers who will relate to this car live according to their own set of values, aspire to an exciting lifestyle, and constantly seek out new things. This image of the target customer overlaps with our own predilections as the creators of this new vehicle, so one of our project goals was to satisfy our own desires with the finished product.
We are living in an age in which we are awash with information and material goods. It’s an era in which we can surf the web and choose the items that appeal to us most from anywhere in the world. The seemingly endless number of choices ranges from items that represent the ultimate in function to those that are very reasonably priced. Even so, it’s difficult to find one that makes us want to shout, “This is it!” And it’s even more difficult when choosing a product as complex as a car. Pondering this led to our “eureka” moment. We realized that we just had to build the vehicle that gave form to the purity of our innate wishes. Keeping this in mind, we began sketching out the lines in pen. By the time we were ready to release the product data, we confidently believed that we had realized our goal.
We poured our passion and the full extent of our sensibilities into designing the vehicle that we want right now. The Mazda CX-3 embodies our efforts, as can be seen in the powerful lines and sculpted beauty we created using the latest iteration of Mazda’s KODO design language. Our vision was clear; “Let’s create a form that is unfettered by preconceived notions or existing hierarchies and build a new vehicle that can carry us through the post-modern age in beautiful style!” It is a vision embodied in the incomparable style of this new vehicle, as witnessed in the following three elements. The Mazda CX-3’s uncompromisingly crafted proportions come close to those of a concept car; its dignified expression is realized by simplifying every element to its purest form; and it features captivating details that reflect our thorough attention to every design decision. These combine to transcend standard concepts of product development and instead rise to the level of passion that artists pour into creating their works.
The Mazda CX-3 is for those who strive to lead an exciting life that suits their personal style and who are constantly seeking for something new in their lives. This is not something rare or exclusive. Rather, it is just one more sentiment that we all carry in our hearts. You might call it one form of passion. We hope you will encounter a “fresh new moment” when you experience the design of the Mazda CX-3. And, nothing would make me happier than if many of our customers come to share our vision with us when they too experience this new vehicle.

Youichi Matsuda
Mazda CX-3 Chief Designer
Pursuing beauty and radical design with the latest iteration of KODO
The CX-3 expresses Mazda’s KODO design language in the most stylish fashion as it takes on the challenge of not being fettered by preconceived notions and leaping far ahead of the pack. The design team worked to create a straight expression of beauty and radical styling for the exterior. Achieving this involved an uncompromising approach to refining the proportions that form the foundation of its beauty, painstaking efforts to eliminate every unnecessary element, and a refusal to be bound by styling preconceptions for any particular genres or categories. The interior adopts a styling theme that coordinates with the exterior in aiming for a deeper expression of high quality and stylish perspective. A concerted effort to achieve the appropriate expression to the ambience and fine textures of the materials used realizes a comfortable and sophisticated cabin environment.
Exterior design aimed at a deeper expression of proportions and vitality
Solid looking body sides contrasted by the flowing expression of the cabin and even greater dedication than ever to create short overhangs realize outstanding proportions with presence that resembles a concept car. By further refining and evolving the image of vitality that constitutes the KODO design DNA, and by creating a sharper form with a heightened sense of speed, the design team aimed for an expression of motion with a sense of purpose. The basic theme focuses on the following three sections. The front half of the body features one solid mass with a flowing shape; the solid mass at the rear of the body conveys a look of strength and power; and the cabin section presents a sleek look achieved by moving the A-pillars rearward and blacking out the D-pillars. Each of these sections is comprised of basic surfaces that create an energetic sense of tension. By presenting dramatic transitions on surfaces between these sections, the design emphasizes the vivid ridge lines that are created between them. The simple overall body structure eliminates all unnecessary details to express the distinctive flair of the CX-3’s dynamic appearance. In addition, careful attention devoted to creating the rich expression and subtle changes in each of the body surfaces results in a look that expresses a unique sense of tension and inviting warmth.
Front view
Taking full advantage of the vehicle’s height, the relatively tall setting of the front nose creates an air of confidence and volume. By stacking seven fins with silver-painted front edges, the front grille creates an expression of concentrated energy that flows laterally out from the brand symbol in the center to surround the vehicle. The signature wing that is the mark of Mazda’s new-generation products adopts an image of the strength of machined metal, and its overall sculpted form becomes the starting point for the powerful sense of speed that flows across the entire body.
The headlamp layout positions the turn signals outside the main headlamp unit to create a narrow, sharp design that is suggestive of an untamed animal’s eyes gazing at its prey. The four-lamp LED headlamp design for the high-grade specification adopts compact high-beam lamps that conceal their presence. This combines with the signature wing that extends from the front grille and blends into the headlamp unit to heighten the impression of a simple, sharp design. The tips of the signature wing include an integrated LED illumination line. Using light guiding technology to transition that line seamlessly into the lighting signature around the low beams creates an innovative and intelligent expression. The turn signals are positioned on the lower part of the bumper along with the fog lamps. LED fog lamps made possible a tall, narrow bezel design that appears to lean forward when viewed from the side to convey a sense of speed. When viewed from the front, the fog lamps form a pair of vertical lines that angle outward toward the bottom to create a look of a powerful stance. These shapes create symbols that, at a glance, identify the vehicle as a Mazda product, and that lend the front view a bold look that befits the CX-3’s stylish proportions.

Side view
Pushing the peak of the front fenders rearward so they lay beneath the base of the A-pillars created a flowing hood profile that emphasizes power and a sense of speed. The A-pillars are slim at the base and grow increasingly thick as they proceed upward. It is a design that adds a sense of lightness to the cabin in a location that so often gives an impression of heaviness. Black-colored D-pillars create a look of unity with the windows, intensify the sense of motion along the roof sides and enable the lines to flow off the rear without interruption, further strengthening the flowing effect of the body’s shape. The beltline dips to its lowest point just behind the door mirrors and sweeps up toward the rear to create a gentle V-shape constituting an axis that flows from the front grille through to the brand symbol ornament on the rear. The adoption of rear quarter windows strikes an exquisite balance between an image of a tight cabin and outstanding visibility.
In addition, all the character lines and surface shapes that comprise the side view start off with a sharp expression and then release their energy smoothly and calmly after peaking to create an integrated expression using movement of varying speeds. Creating a design that carries the reverberations of this effect rearward beyond the body itself produces a sense of extended cabin space far greater than the actual dimensions of the vehicle. In addition, the black garnish on the front and rear fenders and side sills contrast the body color to further emphasize the flowing expression, while the silver moldings on the side sills heighten the sense of speed and quality of the body’s sides.
Rear view
The license plate is embedded in the upper part of the rear bumper, which is painted the same color as the liftgate. This realizes an extremely short overhang. Also, taking advantage of the difference in height of the license plate mount made it possible to layout the camera, switch and other functional parts on the liftgate such that they go unseen. It combines with the maximum difference of just 2mm in parting height of the liftgate and bumper to realize a remarkably clean rear end design with a look of continuity.
A pair of tail pipes exiting the right and left sides emphasizes the sense of power and sportiness. Also, the blacked out D-pillars create continuity between the side and rear windows and make the cabin appear wrapped in glass, highlighting the sense of being spatially unrestricted. The sense of ample lower body volume created by this clean cabin shape and the apparent broad shoulders of the body sides gives the rear view an unparalleled sense of solidity and a powerful stance.
In similar fashion to the headlamps, the rear combination lamps adopt a narrow, sharp design. The illuminated strips along the top of the lamps created through the use of light guiding technology combine with three-dimensional tail and brake lamps to guide the dynamic flow of movement from the front of the body, along its sides and toward the brand symbol on the rear, giving the rear a taut look.
Wheel design
Two types of aluminum wheels, 18-inch and 16-inch, are adopted to match the large diameter tires and lend an appealing sense of a powerful drive and stance. The 18-inch wheel features a three-dimensional form with twisted fat spokes painted in gunmetal gray lending a sense of vitality. Bold machining at the rim end brings out the sharp contrast between the brilliance of the authentic metal and gunmetal gray paint to create a truly distinctive character. The 16-inch wheel instills the impression of a sculpted design that makes the wheel look larger than its actual size. To create a look of quality, dedicated effort went into designing the deeply carved surfaces and keeping the weight light, while fine adjustment was applied to the cross-section of the rim. These efforts applied to the 16-inch wheels contribute to realizing the CX-3's simple yet bold exterior styling.
The aim was to create a radical yet high-quality design coordinated with the innovative exterior design. Keen attention was paid to every detail, including the unity of the spatial designs, the quality of materials and creation of their respective expressions, as well as color matching throughout. The finely crafted interior details of the CX-3 that lend a gentle touch to soft materials, a sharp look to the edges of metallic-finish parts and a distinctive air to hard objects embedded in soft material, combine with the stylish design of the door trim and seats to realize a radical yet high-quality interior.
Spatial design blends snugness with openness
The surrounding character line and relatively high beltline create a form with a comforting sense of snugness that appears to transition smoothly to the exterior. The side areas fully leverage the rich cross-section of the doors by presenting a deeply sculpted three-dimensional form that expresses movement. The areas between the elbows and shoulders are designed to give occupants a visual sense of spaciousness and openness. To maximize the range of visibility required for driving while also establishing a feeling of breadth as befits a six-light cabin, the design team created a sense of unrestricted space around the cabin that matches the exterior. The pillar trim is shaped to enhance visibility while visually eliminating any sense of proximity, and color coordination of the ceiling and C- and D-pillars helps occupants feel a sense of spaciousness.
Front seat space design
As with all models designed under the KODO design theme, the cockpit zone aims to offer a driver-oriented environment that enables one to concentrate on enjoying the driving experience. Positioning of the meters and gauges, displays, and commander control is based on the Heads-up Cockpit concept, which follows the basic philosophy of Mazda’s Human-Machine Interface (HMI), to place them where the driver can best access them. The smooth arc of the meter hood is covered in soft material. This combines with the finish on the front edge that looks like stitching to establish a mature air. On the passenger side, a soft pad with stitching is used on the decorative part of the instrument panel to heighten the feeling of breadth in the cabin. This sense of horizontal expansion passes the round air-conditioning louvers positioned at each end of the instrument panel and continues on to the impressive metallic-finished decorative parts on the door trim to emphasize a sense of unity in the front seat environment.
Door trim design
The front and rear doors adopt character lines that sweep upwards, expressing dynamic motion beginning as a gentle flow from the instrument panel and accelerating rearward as though releasing energy. In terms of surface design, attention focused on how light is received and reflected off the line that sweeps back just below the window and off the top of the armrest. Implementing fine transitions in the apparent volume and surface quality of the trim made it possible to express motion in the surrounding space as well as on the door trim, and thereby create a combined sense of dynamism and comfort. In addition, the inner door handle bezels that were meticulously crafted as a set with the round air-conditioning louvers are shaped to create a sharp image like they were formed from sculpted metal. For the high-grade specification CX-3 with the leather and Lux Suede® interior, thorough attention went into building the inner door handle bezels and shifter panel to feature a hairline treatment reminiscent of fine machine work. The switch panel adopts a distinctive look with fine leather grain tucked around the periphery to express detail and fine quality. The armrests use the same soft pad with stitching that is used for the kneepads on the floor console. This dedication to craftsmanship realizes a radical door trim design that, the instant the door is opened, instills expectations of quality that surpasses the class and an emotional interior environment.
Color design
Body colors
Each of the seven available body colors highlights the stylish exterior design of the CX-3.
The newly developed Ceramic Metallic body color creates a brand new expression of quality that expresses a finely honed metallic surface and strong sense of hardness that changes in appearance depending on how the light hits it. Under normal lighting conditions, the finish appears solid, emphasizing the sharpness of the character lines and highlighting their crisp, cool look. In brightly lit environments, the bright, lustrous white highlights create a futuristic expression. The other colors that round out the lineup* are Soul Red Metallic, Titanium Flash Mica, Dynamic Blue Mica, Meteor Grey Mica, Jet Black Mica, and Snow Flake White Pearl Mica.
*The number and variety of colors available vary according to the country or region.
The interior combines black as a base color with one of three coordinated patterns: pure black leather and off-black Lux Suede®, black leatherette and dark gray fabric, or black and dark gray fabric.
The leather and Lux Suede® configuration expresses a futuristic cabin atmosphere with a stylish and sophisticated look by using a newly developed pure black leather for the main seat material and on the decorative portion of the instrument panel, along with high-quality off-black Lux Suede® for the center sections of the seats. The armrests on the door trim and floor console kneepads boldly add a newly developed dark red accent with a hint of blue in it to create a distinctive sporty image. Fine piping carefully added where the different seat materials meet heightens the expression of stylishness. The center of the seats are stitched to create a quilted look, give the material a rich expression, and heighten the sense that the interior design is both radical and of high quality.
For the leatherette and fabric configuration, special attention was paid to developing the appearance of luster on the dark gray fabric that is used as the main seat material. By putting extra effort into creating an image of quality and fine detail, the texture of the material appeals to the eyes without having to rely on the effect of a given pattern.
Note: Interior offerings vary according to the country or region.
Human-centric packaging aimed at true ease of use
In addition to applying the latest iteration of the KODO design language to realize the stylish proportions of the CX-3, development also secured an adequate amount of space. The aim was to achieve a package that properly represents Mazda’s vision of what a car should be. By designing the layout for all controls and switches from a human-centered perspective, the CX-3 provides the optimum driving position to support Jinba-Ittai driving. This includes providing drivers with the clear view they need, while at the same time realizing a seating position with a low center of gravity that lends a reassuring sense of confidence when driving. The CX-3 also adopts the advanced MZD Connect* car connectivity system, which supports the customer’s active lifestyle.
*The name Mazda Connect is used in Japan, US, Canada and Mexico. The system is referred to as MZD Connect in other markets.
Exterior dimensions
With an overall length of 4,275mm and 2,570mm wheelbase, the CX-3 achieves both flowing proportions and adequate interior comfort for couples and young families. Mounting the compact cabin toward the rear gives birth to KODO design’s distinctive long and beautiful nose, and creates an individualistic character that is entirely different than existing crossover models. The wide 1,765mm overall width and wheels positioned as close as possible to the four corners of the vehicle result in a track of 1,525mm in the front and 1,520mm in the rear, which emphasizes the vehicle’s powerful stance.
The overall height when equipped with the shark fin antenna is 1,550mm*. The minimum ground clearance of 160mm* gives it ample clearance to drive on unpaved surfaces. Along with the low vehicle height and wide track, the vehicle’s low center of gravity enhances stability when cornering or driving at high speeds. It also helps minimize wheel lift when making emergency steering maneuvers, reducing the risk of rolling the vehicle.
Large diameter 18-inch and 16-inch tires further emphasize the appealing stance of the CX-3, while a minimum turning radius of 5.3m makes for easy handling around town and in parking lots.
*When unladen
Exterior dimensions                                                          In-house measurements
Overall length
Overall width
Overall height (with antenna, unladen)
Front overhang
Rear overhang
Tire size
Minimum turning radius (Track-to-track)
5.3 (with either the 18-inch or 16-inch tires)
Interior dimensions
With 1,360mm of shoulder room, 690mm between the two front seats, and 1,058mm of legroom, the front seats can comfortably seat occupants regardless of their build. The rear seats also offer comfortable seating space with plenty of headroom and knee space. This combines with a clean design for the backside of the front seat headrests and seatbacks to create a pleasing sense of openness.
The seating position of the front seats is set closer to the sides of the cabin than the rear seats, and the hip-point of the rear seats is set approximately 40mm taller than on the front seats. As a result, the layout makes it easier for rear seat occupants to see out of the front and also to enjoy conversation with people sitting diagonally opposite in the front seats.
Interior dimensions                                                           In-house measurements
Front headroom
Without sunroof
With sunroof
Front shoulder room
Front legroom
Rear headroom
Without sunroof
With sunroof
Rear shoulder room
Rear legroom
Rear knee clearance
Ease of entry and exit that is a perfect fit for everybody
In general, a tall hip-point increases the burden on shorter people when they enter or exit the cabin. In contrast, a low hip-point increases the burden on taller people. Aiming for the optimum hip-point to satisfy these seemingly contradictory needs, the hip-point for the CX-3 is set at 599mm for the front seats and 639mm for the rear seats. As a result, it achieves excellent ease of cabin entry and exit with a minimum of burden on people of any size, despite its relatively tall vehicle height. The broad side sill garnish adopts a newly developed semi-overlap side sill structure that overlaps with the bottom edge of the door. It gives the side view a powerful look, and helps prevent occupants from bumping their legs when entering or exiting the cabin. In addition, a diagonal cut introduced on the lower part of the rear door’s back edge makes it easy to clear the door with one’s hips, even when the door is only opened a small amount. This makes entry and exit smoother in tight spots such as parking lots.
Cockpit supports greater driving pleasure and reassurance
Ideal driving position
To deliver faithful response to the driver’s will and a driving experience so pleasant that it makes the driver want to enjoy it forever, great effort went into achieving a slightly tall seating position that affords clear visibility and optimum positioning of each control device. The result is an ideal driving position.
Detailed ergonomic studies led to setting the driver’s eye-point at 1,250mm. It realizes a clear view of the surrounding scenery, unobstructed by items such as guardrails. The car’s low center of gravity provides excellent stability when cornering or driving at high speed and, together with the optimal driving position, allows the driver to appreciate the scenery and drive with a feeling of confidence.
Each control device the driver operates directly is positioned in accordance with ergonomic studies of the bone structure of the human body aimed at finding the angle that delivers the greatest amount of comfort, ease and precision. Taking advantage of the ample legroom created by the forward positioning of the front wheels, the pedals are laid out in ideal fashion for the driver to sit comfortably, extend their leg and reach the pedals more naturally. Use of a hinged organ type accelerator pedal helps enable finer pedal control and smooth foot transfer to the brake pedal. Optimization of the pedal shapes and the distance between them helps prevent fatigue, even on long drives, and makes quick and stable pedal operation possible. The steering wheel’s 45mm tilt and 50mm telescopic range allows fine positioning adjustment. Meticulous adjustment of the shift knob’s positioning on top of the floor console allows the driver to transfer their hand smoothly between it and the steering wheel, and to operate it smoothly and easily without applying excessive force. The commander control is positioned where the driver can operate it intuitively by taking one hand off the steering wheel and lowering it to the floor console in a natural motion, and it employs a palmrest that promotes operating stability.
Excellent front and rear visibility
The adoption of KODO design positions the A-pillars farther back, which expands the field of vision out the windshield to help maximize visibility out the front. This enables the driver to precisely determine the road conditions ahead, even when cornering. In addition, the pillars’ angle of inclination and spread, along with their thickness and cross-sectional shape, also helps minimize any sensation of constraint that the proximity of the pillars to the occupants might cause. Mounting the outer mirrors on the body panel of the doors widens the field of vision between the front window and mirror, which makes it easier to spot pedestrians, including young children and obstacles.
The position of the C-pillars was carefully adjusted to maximize visibility out the rear and enable the driver to see the hood of a car travelling at a distance of 1.8 meters behind the CX-3. The design also includes quarter windows that help the driver confirm safety with their own eyes.
Seat design enables correct driving position and minimizes fatigue on long drives
The front seats include a suspension mat on the seatbacks, while the seat cushions employ a suspension-type cushion with a spring wire. The structure allows the seat cushions to flex and hold the occupant’s body well while dispersing the weight of the body across a wider area. Optimizing the balance between the support of the seat cushion and seatback offers positive support for maintaining the proper driving position, even when driving for long periods.
The shape and firmness of the seats are designed to properly support the driver’s body (the hips, waist and up the sides of the torso) to deliver linear holding for everything from urban driving to winding roads. The seat cushions and seatbacks employ a vibration-absorbing urethane foam material that excels at delivering necessary vibration feedback to a driver while dampening uncomfortable vibration. This works together with the suspension mats in the seatbacks to properly control vibration and realize fine ride comfort. To provide drivers of all sizes with an optimum driving position, the front seats enables fine adjustment by offering 260mm of slide adjustment and a total of 40mm tilt.
The rear seat has a seatback length of 550mm, which makes the seats feel roomier and more comfortable.
Storage space
The development team thoroughly studied the items customers load into their vehicles before designing storage space that is optimally positioned for ease of access and visibility. For the front seats, a convenient open space located in front of the shift knob is ideal for a smartphone and includes a 12V power socket that makes it easy for the customer to charge their phone. The top of the floor console houses a pair of large cup holders, while each of the front door pockets can hold a larger bottle, such as a thermos or one-liter plastic bottle, as well as store maps or other small items.
Rear seat storage includes seatback pockets on the back of the driver’s and passenger seats. The rear doors each have a pocket that can accommodate a 500ml (20oz) plastic bottle. There is also a compact tray that measures 110mm (w) x 80mm (d) x 70mm (h) on the rear part of the floor console.
Luggage compartment features flexible space
In addition to its powerful and stylish rear design, the CX-3 features a luggage compartment that, with all seats occupied, measures 1,000mm wide and  696mm long with a capacity of 240L (DIN, including sub-trunk). To make the space more flexible to use, it includes a two-position cargo board that can be adjusted in height to match the load being carried. With the board at its taller setting, which is its normal position, the luggage compartment can hold a large (75cm) suitcase, while the difference in height between it and the liftgate is small enough to make loading and unloading easy. The setting also leaves space beneath the board that can hold items the owner will want to carry at all times. Setting the board in its lower position allows full use of the space and makes it easy to load two large (67cm) suitcases. Folding down the 6:4 split folding rear seatbacks also makes it possible to stow longer items. The 63mm height difference between the bottom of the liftgate opening and luggage compartment floor makes it easy to load and unload large objects such as suitcases. Operating ease of the liftgate also received close attention to minimize the amount of power required to open and close it, and also to enable sure closing. The development team optimized the layout of stay dampers and designed the liftgate opening mechanism such that it can be opened by reaching a hand in and pressing the opener switch positioned on the inside lip.
Mazda’s new-generation HMI places top priority on driving safety
Mazda’s new-generation HMI pursues safety as its top priority. In particular, the cockpit design is based on the Heads-up Cockpit concept, which aims to help drivers process large amounts of information while maintaining the correct driving position and concentrating on driving safely. It is designed to be simple and easy to use, while at the same time minimizing cognitive, visual and manual distractions. The cockpit is divided into two zones, one for information that is necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle, and the other for communication-related information. Information the driver requires and the devices for controlling its display are optimally positioned.
Active Driving Display
Information from a display panel is reflected by a mirror and projected as a virtual image on a combiner; a clear display panel vertically mounted atop the meter hood. To minimize the required eye movement and the burden of adjusting focus, the image is set to be in focus approximately 1.5m away from the driver’s eye point. Vehicle speed, turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system and other important driving information, such as that from the advanced safety systems, are displayed in real time.
A variety of information is displayed, including that pertaining to the vehicle’s current status. This information is divided between the large round meter in the center and wing-shaped displays that flank it, with its placement depending on the level of importance, required frequency of viewing, and relation to other information being displayed. The high-grade specification CX-3 equipped with Active Driving Display employs an analog tachometer in the center with a digital speedometer incorporated in the bottom right corner. Other grades place a speedometer in the center and a tachometer in the digital display wing on the left. On all grades, the wing on the right displays the external temperature, fuel level, as well as various indicators related to safety equipment.
Seven-inch center display
An independent seven-inch display mounted on the top of the dashboard is viewable with only a 17.2 degrees downward movement of the eyes. Positioning the displayed information at the right height and distance contributes to minimizing visual distraction time. The display is positioned such that any movement in the peripheral field of vision will catch the driver’s eye, even if the driver remains focused on one spot on the display. Positioning the display where the tail lamps of the vehicle ahead fall within the driver’s field of vision, even when viewing the display while driving, contributes to safer driving.
Commander control
The commander control is a device the driver can operate by touch alone to control information shown on the center display. The switches are positioned where the driver can access them simply by lowering one hand from the steering wheel to the floor console in a natural motion. This allows the driver to operate them without taking their eyes off the road.
To further enhance the ease of operating the commander control, a rubber palmrest measuring 16mm in height and 43mm in width has been added to the floor console. The palmrest supports the driver’s wrist to facilitate stable operation of the commander control. To enhance the ease of operating the device with the wrist supported, each click of the rotary switch is set to a small angle of movement.
Voice command operation
The driver can control a number of functions simply by speaking into the microphone. This includes menu switching, the audio system’s play, stop and skip functions, radio station selection, as well as zoom in and out for the navigation system’s map displays. When a mobile music player or smartphone is connected to the onboard head unit via USB, voice commands can also be used to search for songs by artist name, or to call phone numbers stored in the smartphone’s contact list. Voice commands can also be used to enter addresses when setting destinations for the navigation system.
MZD Connect*1 — advanced car connectivity system
MZD Connect*1 is a car connectivity system that makes it safer and easier to take advantage of functions including internet connectivity and access to social networking services that today’s customers consider essential, even when in transit. It responds to a wider variety of needs by greatly improving the convenience of functions that require Bluetooth® connectivity, such as hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio including Aha™ by HARMAN (hereafter Aha)*2. By supporting the ongoing evolution of communications equipment on both the hardware and software levels, this innovative platform ensures that customers always have access to the latest services without swapping out any hardware.
*1 The system is referred to as MZD Connect in some markets.
*2 Not available in some regions.
Audio features
The CX-3 available with standard-equipment four-speaker or six-speaker configurations,  The audio system is capable of receiving terrestrial AM/FM broadcasts with support for Radio Data System (RDS) in Europe and Hybrid Digital (HD) radio in North America and supports audio playback from CDs, the customer’s iPod, or other portable audio players. When connected to a smartphone, the system also allows access to web content such as Aha™*2.
Aha™*2 is a cloud-based platform operated by HARMAN, USA that allows customers to access more than 100,000 broadcasts from around the world, including BBC and CNN, specialized programming of various genres and broadcasts from distant locations. In addition, the service offers downloads of free audiobooks. When using Aha™*2, the system can read aloud the latest tweets in the customer’s Twitter timeline. It can also read aloud the latest Facebook news feed entries, and allows the customer to “like” entries or post audio messages using the Shout function.
The web content offerings also include StitcherTM*2. This on-demand service provides more than 15,000 talk shows, music programs and podcasts from around the world. Users can enjoy listening to their favorite content whenever they please. The North American and Australian specification CX-3 also provides Pandora® radio service. Subscribed users can create up to 100 personalized stations and listen to continuous music, or search for similar songs for automatic playback. As a result, they can enjoy listening only to music that matches their preferences while driving.
*1 Offerings vary depending on the region and grade.
*2 Not available in some regions.
Communication features
In addition to providing hands-free telephone operation and access to one’s contact list, the CX-3 can also receive short text messages and display a list of sender IDs. When the car is in motion, the text-to-voice function can read the contents of email aloud. In addition, it is possible to reply to the sender by choosing from a selection of preset messages.
Navigation features
The navigation system uses data from SD cards, which can be purchased with the vehicle or separately, and can display the current location on a map, or display routes to take to a target destination. The system can set the target destination based on the contact list in the customer’s phone, making it easy to set a family member or friend’s house as a destination. When a smartphone is connected, the customer can also search the internet for places they want to go*, or use content on Aha™* such as Yelp’s guides* to check out popular spots, and set those locations as destinations*. The navigation software can also use the smartphone’s tethering capabilities to display the distance to nearby gasoline stations and the current price of gasoline*.
*Not available in some regions.
The connectivity system enables the use of a number of Mazda’s own apps. The Fuel Economy Monitor lets drivers confirm to what degree they are driving in an eco-friendly fashion on each outing. Intelligent Drive Master (i-DM)* measures and evaluates the driver’s driving technique. Maintenance allows drivers to check when their next oil change is due. Warning Guidance uses the seven-inch center display to offer details about warnings that appear on the meters.
*Availability restricted to certain regions
Dynamic performance that provides unrestricted driving enjoyment
Mazda is in constant pursuit of driving pleasure and faithful response to the driver’s will. Having the car respond exactly as expected to the driver’s actions connects directly to the pleasure of the Jinba-Ittai driving experience and cannot be achieved merely with power and speed.
Based on this philosophy, the CX-3 development team focused on delivering ease of handling on city streets, reassuring confidence on the highway, and particularly on faithful response when negotiating gently curving rural roads. By fully adopting SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY and tuning all the characteristics to match human senses, Mazda produced light, linear response to the driver’s actions along with the handling stability that the Jinba-Ittai experience requires. Attention to the powertrain includes the use of a SKYACTIV-D 1.5 engine that produces torque more powerful than a 2.5-liter gasoline engine. With a reassuring feeling of power and excellent environmental performance, the dynamic performance of the CX-3 provides unrestricted driving enjoyment.
High-performance, lightweight SKYACTIV-CHASSIS
Thorough revision of the suspension and steering functions led to the adoption of a SKYACTIV-CHASSIS that delivers response faithful to the driver’s will, as well as greatly enhanced levels of comfort and reassuring confidence. Fine tuning of every related component realizes natural response, ease of control and reassuring confidence, even when driving on the highway. The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system that features highly efficient packaging and dampers in the front and rear that optimize friction characteristics, along with a rigid steering gear mount to deliver linear handling characteristics and ride comfort with a feeling of high quality.
Suspension system delivers linear vehicle response and excellent stability
The suspension system for the CX-3 uses MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion beam suspension in the rear.
The front suspension’s 30mm caster trail and 5.0-degree caster angle realize a positive feel to steering operations and linear response characteristics. This helps achieve both a pleasant sense of nimble performance when driving around town or on winding roads and excellent straight-line stability when driving at highway speeds. The front suspension layout aims to deliver a highly comfortable ride by reducing the angle difference in the stroke of the front dampers and the tracking of the front wheels.
The rear suspension applies the same SKYACTIV-CHASSIS thinking used to date with its relatively high mounting position for the torsion beam. This reduces the amount of vibration input transmitted from the road surface to the vehicle body and improves straight-line stability at highway speeds to achieve a more comfortable ride and a driving experience with a confident feel. A comprehensive analysis of the spring and damping characteristics of the rear suspension’s bushings in conjunction with vehicle rigidity also led to reducing unsprung weight and greatly reducing rear impact shock.
Another measure implemented was to optimize the friction characteristics of the front and rear dampers. Controlling fluctuations in damper friction such that the dampers respond well to even minute stroke action achieves a comfortably flat ride and improves the initial response of the steering system.
Steering system with light yet stable operation
Development aimed to achieve a light feeling to steering that responds faithfully to the driver’s will, and thereby deliver a thoroughly satisfying and reassuring experience, whether driving on winding suburban roads or on the highway. The optimum setting for the steering gear ratio stabilizes roll characteristics and improves response to steering wheel action when cornering, even though the vehicle height of the CX-3 is slightly tall. At the same time, adopting a rigid steering mount improves linearity as well as the rigidity of the steering system. To address the issue of steering resonance caused by the use of a rigid mount, a suspension crossmember structure based on an analysis of chassis vibration transmission characteristics successfully minimizes the occurrence of displeasing vibration.
Brake system that provides excellent control
The brake system employs ventilated discs in the front and solid discs in the rear. To provide reassuring driving pleasure, particular attention went into enhancing control at low- to mid-range speeds, as well as braking performance under high-speed and high G force conditions.
Mazda tuned the booster’s characteristics to best match a variety of driving scenes. Examples of control at slow to moderate speeds include scenes in parking lots where the driver lightly presses on the brake pedal, operating the brake pedal in response to road signs while driving around town, or slowing the vehicle to bring it to a stop an intersection. The resulting pedal feel offers both greater ease of control and quicker operation. Attention also concentrated on realizing a unified feeling to the powerful G forces generated during high-speed cornering. One example would be braking as the driver prepares to enter bends on winding roads, and carries through the process of deceleration, cornering and acceleration. To optimize performance in such situations, pedal feel is tuned to provide smooth operation when first applying the brakes and a positively rigid feeling as powerful G force is experienced.
Lightweight, high-rigidity SKYACTIV-BODY
The CX-3 adopts Mazda’s SKYACTIV-BODY, which achieves high levels of performance in three seemingly contradictory areas: collision safety, light body weight, and rigidity. The CX-3 takes the SKYACTIV-BODY architecture with straight beams wherever possible, continuous framework that makes the individual sections function in harmony, and effective positioning of high-tensile steel, and puts it together in an even simpler layout. The result is lightweight body that features high rigidity and a sense of positive damping characteristics.
Measures implemented to achieve a high level of body rigidity include the creation of a strong joint between the mounts for the front suspension dampers and the front frame and hinge pillars. The rear suspension damper mounts employ a forked structure that establishes a connection in three directions by joining the damper top mount to the crossmember as well as the upper and lower sections of the liftgate opening. In addition, the rear header on the liftgate opening is spot welded to create a closed section. Making the cross-section structure more compact increases rigidity and reduces weight at the same time. Parts other than those of the body serve as dynamic dampers that strengthen the vehicle’s overall damping feel while suppressing any weight gain. The rear seat mounts serve as one noticeable example. Optimizing the rigidity of the rear seat brackets cancels out body deformation resulting from road surface input by moving the seats in the opposite direction.
The new frame layout consolidates the two crossmembers in the center of the body on previous SKYACTIV-BODY iterations, replacing them with a single new crossmember positioned at the base of the B-pillars. This change creates a simple layout that also allows the crossmember to effectively handle impact force received by one of the B-pillars in the event of a side collision. The front frame members and crush cans use cross-shaped cross sections. Other changes include the body adopting constricted curves with high yield strength on the cross-section of the front bumper beam, side sill reinforcements and B-pillars. They also include the adoption of a polygonal cross-section with numerous ridges for the crossmember that connects the floor to the rear frame and an overall straight design for the part itself to realize greater strength. In addition, each of the body’s panels use high-tensile steel and a variety of bead patterns to increase their strength and allow them to function as structural parts, which in turn lightens the weight of the overall frame.
An active effort to adopt high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile steel throughout the whole body brings the usage ratio of 440MPa or higher grade steel to 63%, and of 780MPa or higher grade ultra-high-tensile steel to 29%. The 4% usage ratio of extremely strong 1,180MPa ultra-high-tensile steel is particularly noteworthy. Its use on 11 components, including the A-pillar inner members, roof rail inner members, crossmembers that connect to the B-pillars and part of the side sill reinforcement, contributes greatly to achieving greater strength and lighter weight. In addition, the front bumper beam uses hot-stamped 1,800MPa steel, and the B-pillars use high-strength filler (Japanese, Australian, European and Israeli specifications only). The North American and GCC specification vehicles also employ hot-stamped 1,800MPa steel in the rear bumper beam.
Excellent NVH performance
A concerted effort to suppress the transmission of noise and vibration included the use of CAE analysis technology to fine-tune the shape of every bead on the panels in millimeter increments. Attention to all design details went as far as considering the driving conditions to which the car will be exposed, including the travelling time and speed, the ambient temperature and altitude, as well as its interaction with the equipment features. As a result, the CX-3 realizes a quiet and comfortable cabin environment.
To reduce road noise, the development team identified the parts that can easily generate noise or vibration based on the many accomplishments of the SKYACTIV-CHASSIS to date, and worked to control suspension resonance. These efforts realize significant reductions in vibration and noise, especially when driving on unpaved roads with rough surfaces.
To minimize vibration from the powertrain, the development team leveled the engine mounts and tuned the shape and hardness of the mount rubber. Controlling powertrain vibration and limiting it to only small movements in the vertical direction realizes ride comfort by minimizing both large vibrations generated when the engine is started and the amount of unpleasant vibration transmitted to the floor and seats while driving. In addition, revisions to a variety of parts that join the transmission to the body reduce the amount of unpleasant gear noise. Optimizing the shape of the beading used on the spare tire pan also helps minimize the generation of vibration and noise, as well as their transmission to the body.
In addition to the various NVH measures implemented, careful attention also went into insulating sound. Based on the concept of “path-blocking and concentrated sound absorption,” sound insulation and sound-absorbing materials are optimally positioned for each of the gasoline and diesel engine versions to shut out the various paths by which sound can enter the cabin and instead channel the sound into one place.
Excellent aerodynamics support driving stability and fuel economy
Development of aerodynamic performance for the CX-3 adhered to Mazda’s “aerodynamically efficient ground line” concept, which calls for streamlining the flow of air along the underbody and enhancing aerodynamics by improving the balance of the upward and downward flows that converge at the rear of the body. The development team took full advantage of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis as they ran simulations and worked to strategically position aerodynamic parts where they can achieve the greatest level of efficiency. This made it possible to realize the beautiful forms of KODO design while achieving a high level of aerodynamic performance. It is a result that contributes greatly to improving driving performance and fuel economy.
On the upper body, great effort was made to create forms that suppress turbulence from air striking the front of the vehicle. The measures taken include the duct shape used within the front grille, the flared shape of the trailing edge on the corners of the front bumper and headlamps, and the smooth lines of the A-pillar cross-section. At the rear of the vehicle, measures to minimize the entrainment of air flowing down from the roof and streamline the flow of air over the rear window include the back of the roof adopting a spoiler-like shape and the addition of rear side spoilers.
Streamlining airflow along the underbody and guiding it straight out to the rear are a radiator undercover, engine undercover, tunnel undercover, center floor cover, as well as front and rear tire deflectors. Rather than using a design that covers the entire floor, the center floor cover is positioned only under the rear section of the floor for maximum efficiency.
SKYACTIV powertrains
Two types of engine are available for the CX-3. One is the SKYACTIV-G 2.0, a 2.0-liter gasoline engine that delivers light and spirited driving pleasure on city or suburban streets. The other is the SKYACTIV-D 1.5 small-displacement clean diesel engine that was newly developed for the all-new Mazda2. The transmission lineup offers a six-speed automatic SKYACTIV-DRIVE transmission. The automatic transmission for the gasoline engine features Drive Selection, which adjusts engine control along with shift timing and speed to deliver a more linear feel to the driving experience. Also available on some configurations are Mazda’s i-stop idling stop system which contribute to improving fuel economy.
SKYACTIV-D 1.5 small-displacement clean diesel engine
The SKYACTIV-D 1.5 is a 1.5-liter small-displacement clean diesel engine that produces more torque than a 2.5-liter gasoline engine while also delivering a class-leading level of fuel economy. Employing a single ultra-compact turbocharger that efficiently produces boost throughout the rpm range, the engine produces 77kW maximum output and 270Nm maximum torque. At the same time, it achieves excellent fuel economy at  4.9L/100km ( Combined mode) and low CO2 emissions of  128g/km.
The SKYACTIV-D 1.5 introduces a number of technologies evolved for use in a small-displacement engine to deliver the ideal combustion characteristics achieved by the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 engine. This includes its 14.8:1 compression ratio, high-dispersion fuel injectors that use solenoid valves, and stepped egg-shaped pistons. This allows it to inherit all of the features of the 2.2-liter version, including its linear response and powerful torque throughout the rpm range, outstanding ignition and cold weather starting characteristics, and quiet performance. These ideal combustion characteristics realize outstanding environmental performance that greatly reduces NOx and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions without requiring an expensive aftertreatment system.
Note: Stated values are target values for the Australian specification CX-3 with FWD and AT.
Major technologies employed by the SKYACTIV-D 1.5
· Solenoid injectors: Finer atomization of the fuel mixture minimizes the distance it travels and ensures ample distance from the cylinder walls to suppress cooling loss. The injectors use a transient combustion control logic that determines the optimal injection pattern and rate of fuel injection in response to changing conditions within the cylinder under different driving situations.
· Stepped egg-shaped pistons: The raised section in the center of the piston’s crown quickly spreads the injected fuel across the combustion chamber. To reduce the squish area, a step is introduced around the entire circumference of the piston top, which suppresses flow around the lip and prevents combustion gas from cooling.
· Turbocharger with variable turbine geometry: It delivers adequate boost throughout a broad range, from low through high engine speeds, despite its ultra-compact size and having a single blower. It combines with the rotation speed sensor that maintains power and torque output at high speeds to realize a powerful feeling with plenty of reach at high engine speeds. Because it also starts delivering boost at low engine speeds, it ensures easier engine starts in cold climates. Spinning the turbine in the opposite direction than on typical turbochargers creates a straight path for exhaust gases, which reduces pressure loss and increases boost efficiency.
· High-pressure EGR & low-pressure EGR systems: A pair of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems is used to ensure powerful boost under heavy loads. The EGR systems limit drops in the turbocharger’s boosting efficiency, while also achieving large-volume EGR performance.
· Water-cooled intercooler integrated into the intake manifold: Integrating a water-cooled intercooler that features highly efficient cooling control into the intake manifold speeds up the discharge of EGR gas in the intake manifold to improve response and boost efficiency. The intake manifold is made of lightweight plastic.
· Engine cooling system: The system monitors engine speed, fuel injection rate, water temperature and oil temperature while driving to determine the driving conditions and adjust the opening of the flow control valve. Spacers positioned inside the cylinder block’s water jacket prevent heat from escaping the area around the combustion chamber into the water used for cooling the engine. This system ensures stable combustion by reducing cooling loss. In addition to improving fuel economy and environmental performance, it contributes to reducing loss associated with unburned fuel.
· Reduced knocking noise: The newly developed combustion control logic stabilizes combustion and suppresses knocking noise by injecting fuel four times per combustion cycle with optimal timing. The engine’s design also disperses resonance generated by parts in response to combustion pressure. This, along with the positioning of insulating material, ensures quiet performance.
SKYACTIV-G 2.0 high-efficiency direct-injection gasoline engine
Using the same high compression ratio of  14.0:1* as on the Mazda3, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 is a high-efficiency direct-injection gasoline engine that delivers excellent fuel economy and linear response characteristics. In addition to using the high tumble ports, multi-hole injectors and cavity pistons of previous SKYACTIV-G engines, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 for the CX-3 also uses a newly developed compact 4-2-1 exhaust system with smaller diameter and shorter exhaust pipes. Producing 115kW maximum output and 204Nm maximum torque, and with a lower final gear ratio, the engine delivers powerful performance while also achieving fuel economy of  6.4L/100km ( Combined mode) and excellent low CO2 emissions of  150g/km.
*14.0:1 in some regions where octane values differ within Europe, Russia and ASEAN countries.
Note: Stated values are target values for the Australian specification CX-3 with FWD and AT.
Major technologies employed by the SKYACTIV-G engines
· High tumble port: Generating a powerful tumble (vortex) within the combustion chamber distributes the flame more evenly throughout the combustion chamber. This improves the speed of combustion, which contributes to suppressing knocking and improved torque production.
· Multi-hole injectors: The injectors employ six holes on each nozzle. A two-stage injection process used when injecting gasoline directly into the cylinder promotes mixing to maximize the homogeneity and flow strength. Its latent heat vaporization improves the in-cylinder cooling effect and suppresses knocking.
· Cavity pistons: The aluminum pistons incorporate a cavity in the crown of each that reduces cooling loss. Efforts to reduce their weight include removing all material possible from each piston’s underside. The cylinder block is also designed to maintain circularity when the engine is running. This allows lower tension to be applied to the piston rings without increasing oil consumption.
· Dual S-VT: Controls intake and exhaust valve timing, instantly optimizing them in response to the engine operating conditions of the moment. The advantages include maximizing fuel economy under light loads, and suppressing knocking when starting the engine in cold weather or under heavy loads. The system reduces pumping loss under light loads by greatly delaying intake valve closing to the timing of 110°, while at the same time delaying exhaust valve closing to increase internal EGR volume for maximum effectiveness. Under heavy loads, the electric-powered intake valve Sequential Valve Timing (S-VT) advances the timing of valve opening and closes each valve early, which increases the amount of air intake and torque output.
· 4-2-1 exhaust system: The four exhaust pipes running from the engine first collect into pairs and then into a single pipe. Ensuring ample distance for the exhaust gases from individual cylinders to travel before merging lessens the effect of reflected waves reaching another combustion chamber, and the combustion gas scavenging effect reduces exhaust resistance to enable efficient combustion. The loop design of the exhaust pipe also reaps space savings. This allows the large-capacity catalytic converter to be positioned near the engine, which improves vibration characteristics.
· Lighter weight and reduced mechanical resistance: Efforts aimed at thoroughly reducing weight include the introduction of lighter pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft. Other design details aimed at reducing mechanical resistance include mirror-finish camshaft journal, reduced valve spring load, optimized chain and chain line for the chain system, and the use of a high-efficiency water pump.
· Oil lubrication system: Lessening resistance in the oil passages reduces pressure loss and lowers the amount of pressure required to enable the use of a smaller size oil pump. The system provides optimized control over the amount of oil pump discharge, and uses two-stage electronic control to switch discharge pressure in response to the driving conditions.
SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission
SKYACTIV-DRIVE is a six-speed automatic transmission that achieves excellent fuel economy, a direct feel similar to that of a manual transmission, as well as smooth and powerful acceleration from a standing start or when under way. Based on the SKYACTIV-DRIVE transmission used on the Mazda3, shortening the distance between the engine and driveshaft creates a more compact version that will fit into the CX-3’s compact engine room. To realize a broad lock-up range that is effective immediately after accelerating from a standing start for a direct shift feeling and excellent acceleration, SKYACTIV-DRIVE for the CX-3 is equipped with Mazda’s “Full Range Direct Drive” torque transmission mechanism, which employs a compact wet multi-plate clutch that improves cooling, compact piston, and compact torque converter. Aiming to fully leverage the engine performance of Mazda’s compact diesel engine, the lock-up damper rigidity was lowered to improve NVH. It also employs a Mechatronic module that integrates the transmission’s engine control unit (ECU) into the hydraulic control mechanism using a highly responsive direct linear solenoid. In addition to improving the precision of hydraulic operation and increasing reliability, cooperative control of the engine and transmission realizes both smooth, quick shift changes and suppression of shift shock.
Drive Selection (for gasoline engines)
The SKYACTIV-DRIVE for gasoline engines adopts Drive Selection, which allows drivers to press a switch on the transmission’s shift gate to switch to the Sport drive mode. When in Sport mode, the transmission is automatically set to start out in a low gear. It also increases the amount of torque output when the accelerator pedal is pressed down further to deliver powerful acceleration and a sense of linear response with a minimum of pedal action. Ensuring easy-to-handle drive power and improving responsiveness by enabling the driver to convey their intentions to the car in response to traffic conditions, Drive Selection supports a reassuring driving experience when, for example, merging onto a crowded highway.
i-stop idling stop system
Both the gasoline and diesel engine versions of the CX-3 are available with Mazda’s i-stop idling stop system, which delivers smooth stopping and starting along with excellent fuel economy. The CX-3 adopts the new control system introduced on the all-new Mazda2, which allows i-stop to operate at lower water temperatures after the engine is started than on previous iterations and thereby improve real-world fuel economy. i-stop automatically stops the engine when the driver presses the brake pedal and stops the car. When subsequently releasing the brake or engaging the clutch to move off again, fuel is injected directly into the engine’s cylinder and combusted to automatically restart the car in approximately 0.35 seconds* with the gasoline engine and approximately 0.40 seconds* with the diesel engine.
*According to in-house measurements for AT vehicles.
World-class safety underpins the pleasure of driving the CX-3
Based on Mazda Proactive Safety*1, every effort was dedicated to maximizing the range with which the driver can drive safely and confidently. Active safety measures to help identify potential risks early on and reduce any chance of damage or injury include wide adoption of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE*2 advanced safety technologies. These enable the driver to enjoy every outing, whether driving on city streets, on the highway, or on winding roads. i-ACTIVSENSE combines with the basic performance aspects of excellent dynamic performance with linear response and clear visibility to support the driver through all the driving processes of cognition, judgment, and operation. Passive safety features build on Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY. Dedicated effort went toward providing occupant safety, including the seatbelts and airbag system, and also toward helping protect pedestrians. The result is truly excellent safety performance, and the Mazda CX-3 is fully capable of earning high-level ratings in collision tests around the world.
*1 Mazda Proactive Safety is Mazda’s safety philosophy that aims to minimize the risks that can lead to an accident and maximize the range of conditions in which the driver can safely operate the vehicle. The various technologies it provides enable the driver to act appropriately through all driving processes, including cognition, judgment, and operation. It thereby helps prevent or minimize damage in the event an accident cannot be avoided. Mazda Proactive Safety will continue to evolve in the future.
*2 i-ACTIVSENSE is an umbrella term covering a series of advanced safety technologies that employ detection devices such as milliwave radar units and cameras to support the driver in recognizing hazards, avoiding collisions, and minimizing damage in the event an accident does occur.
Active safety
Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) [Some parts of 4A market excepted]
Operating at speeds between 4km/h and 30km/h, SCBS automatically applies the brakes to prevent colliding with the vehicle ahead or reduce the amount of damage in the event an accident cannot be avoided when driving slowly around town or in congested traffic. The near-infrared sensor mounted on the windshield is capable of precision detection at short distances of up to approximately six meters, and is strong in rainy or backlit conditions. When the system determines that a high risk of collision exists, it begins to pressurize the brakes so they can provide strong stopping power the instant the driver applies them. If the driver fails to take evasive action at this point, the system automatically applies the brakes to slow the vehicle and prevent or soften impact.
Note: The system’s ability to prevent a collision is limited by road conditions and other environmental factors.
Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM)*1 [Some parts of 4A market excepted]
The system uses a 24GHz quasi-milliwave radar sensor to detect vehicles approaching from the blind spot areas at the sides and rear to assist the driver in confirming safety when making lane changes. It becomes operational at speeds of 15km/h or greater*2. If the driver switches on a turn signal while ABSM detects a vehicle, the system issues a flashing visual indicator in the respective door mirror and also sounds a buzzer. The ABSM system also incorporates Mazda’s Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) function, which alerts the driver when it detects vehicles approaching from either side as the driver backs up. This helps the driver confirm that it is safe to back out of a garage or parking space.
*1 This feature is named Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) in some markets.
*2 Minimum vehicle speed for operation varies by the market.
High-Beam Control System (HBC)
HBC enables the driver to leave the high beams turned on under normal operation by automatically switching between high and low beam operation to reduce the burden of manual operation, improve visibility at night and help the driver to better recognize potential risks. When the monocular color camera detects the headlamps of oncoming vehicles or tail lamps of those traveling ahead, the system switches to the low beams to prevent blinding the drivers of those vehicles and then back to the high beams once the road is clear. It also uses the low beams in situations where it determines the high beams unnecessary, such as when driving in brightly lit urban areas or at low speeds of 30km/h or less.
Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
The LDWS uses a monocular color camera to monitor lane markings on the road surface and issue a warning to the driver when it predicts that the car is going to depart from its lane due to driver fatigue or inattention. To prevent the issuing of superfluous warnings, the system is also designed to recognize intentional actions on the part of the driver, such as the use of turn signals and accelerator pedal operation. The sound is played through a speaker on the side of the car that is leaving its lane to help the driver respond quickly and in appropriate fashion.
Passive safety
High-strength SKYACTIV-BODY
Dedicated efforts to provide occupant safety include the ingenious use of structures and materials that effectively absorb and disperse impact force from the front, sides, or rear to suppress cabin deformation, as well as to make the cabin itself stronger. As a result, the CX-3 achieves a lightweight structure while at the same time delivering collision safety performance capable of earning high-level ratings in tests performed by organizations in different regions.
• Measures to protect against frontal impact
The SKYACTIV-BODY employs a multi-load path structure that effectively absorbs and disperses impact force within the engine room. The upper path adopts an impact-absorbing structure that makes use of the fender aprons. Cross-shaped crush cans and front frame members form the middle path. The lower path incorporates an impact-absorbing extension on the front suspension crossmember. In addition, straight front frame members are firmly supported by the side sills and B-frames to form an uninterrupted architecture that reduces the chances of cabin deformation. The front suspension crossmember that forms part of the lower path is highly energy absorbent and designed to separate from the body in the event of a collision. As such, it secures sufficient crush space in the engine compartment. The floor of the cabin combines the use of 440MPa high-tensile steel with ample material thickness to maintain a high level of strength. In addition, 1,180MPa ultra-high-tensile steel is used for the inner B-frames at the feet of the front seat occupants and on part of the side sills, as well as for the inner part of the A-pillars and roof rails. The result is a strong cabin structure.
• Measures to protect against side impact
A solid H-shaped ring structure joining the roof and B-pillars to the underbody combines with the adoption of ultra-high-tensile steel on key frame members and a part of floor to form a robust body structure. Of particular note, the use of 1,180MPa steel on the crossmember that connects to the B-pillars on the bottom of the body results in a lighter yet stronger structure. Optimization of the layout, structure and materials for the front and rear door impact bars as well as the front door beltline reinforcements aims to disperse energy in the event of a side impact, minimizing deformation of the doors and preventing them from intruding into the cabin. More specifically, the front door beltline uses 440MPa high-tensile steel and adopts a cross-section shape that achieves great flexural strength. At the same time, employing a structure that resists bending for the single ridgeline that runs from front to rear allows the beltline reinforcement to serve as the upper impact bar. The lower impact bars in the front and rear doors use double-hat shaped members made of 1,500MPa ultra-high-tensile steel, as do the rear door upper impact bars added only to North American specification vehicles.
• Measures to protect against rear impact
Crushable zones designed to effectively absorb impact energy from the rear better protect the cabin and fuel tank in a wide variety of rear-end collisions. North American, European and Australian specification vehicles employ the following additional measures. The same cross-shaped crush cans as used on the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6 for the rear bumper reinforcing material promote highly efficient energy absorption that protects the body in the event of a light rear collision. Two types of bead added to the rear side frames control the protection range and crushable range in the event of rear impact at high speed. By controlling frame deformation, the CX-3 aims to satisfy the regulatory requirements for an offset rear impact at 80km/h, despite constraints on the amount of available crushable space.
Additional safety equipment and mechanisms
• Seatbelts
The front seatbelts are equipped with a pretensioner that tightens the seatbelts in the initial moment of a frontal collision and a load limiter that subsequently loosens the belt in a controlled manner to lighten the load received by the occupant’s chest. The following seatbelt variations exist in different markets. The driver’s seat on Japanese specification vehicles includes a double pretensioner that tightens the lap and shoulder belts at once, while both the driver’s and passenger seatbelts have a double pretensioner on North American specification vehicles. On European, Australian, and Japanese specification vehicles, the left and right rear seatbelts each have a load limiter. European and Australian specification vehicles also include a single pretensioner on the left and right rear seatbelts.
• SRS airbag system
In addition to standard equipment front airbags for the driver’s and passenger seats, the CX-3 is available with curtain airbags that mitigate shock to the heads of front and rear seat occupants in the event of impact from the side, as well as side airbags that help protect the chests of front seat occupants. Pressure sensors added to the front doors of North American and European specification vehicles provide quicker, more precise detection of side impacts.
• Steering shaft designed to mitigate impact force
The steering shaft is built to soften the blow to the driver in the event of a frontal impact. If the collision is severe, it moves forward, away from the driver, to provide enough space to accommodate the driver’s forward motion.
• Front seat structure
Suspension mats used in the seatbacks and optimization of the headrest shape, positioning and height make it easier for the occupant’s body to sink into the seatback cushion in the event of impact from the rear. This controls the relative positions of the head and upper body and delivers firm support for the occupant’s head during initial impact to mitigate shock to the neck. In addition, the side frames of the front seats adopt a shorter front-to-rear design to prevent them from making contact with the occupant’s chest in the event of a side impact.
• Mechanism that helps prevent luggage from intruding into the rear seat
In addition to using high-tensile steel on the rear seatback frames, the design employs stronger strikers and catches for the seats, as well as stronger hinges and body mounts. The aim is to prevent or mitigate injury caused by objects from the luggage compartment entering the cabin in the event of a front-end collision.
• Door armrests that absorb impact energy
The center sections of the front door armrests are designed to collapse and minimize shock to the occupant’s ribs in the event of a side impact. North American specification vehicles also use the same structure for the rear door armrests.
• ISOFIX child seat anchor points
The left and right rear seats are each fitted with ISOFIX anchors and a top tether anchor that promote easy, secure attachment of an ISOFIX child seat. The top tether anchor reduces the risk of the child seat tipping forward and bringing the child’s head into contact with a B-pillar or the front seat in the event of a collision. This equipment complies with the new European i-Size child seat standard.
Pedestrian protection
Holes and cutout sections in the hood’s reinforcement materials combine with optimized space underneath the hood to help soften the impact if a pedestrian’s head should strike the hood in the event of an accident. In addition, the cowl panel uses an S-shape for its structural cross section that acts like a spring to help better absorb energy. Energy-absorbing foam placed in the front bumper helps limit the degree of injury to the pedestrian’s legs, while a lower stiffener added to the bumper helps prevent the pedestrian’s legs from sliding under the front of the car.
The Mazda CX-3 expresses KODO design in highly stylish fashion, and the designers were happy to tell us about their uncompromising devotion to building this car.
Youichi Matsuda – Chief Designer
Youichi Matsuda joined the company in 1990. He started as an exterior designer and later transferred to interior design. In 1999, he participated in a joint program in Germany run by Mazda Motor Europe GmbH and Ford of Europe AG. Following that, he served as the interior design leader for development of the first-generation Mazda3 and Mazda CX-7, as design promoter on the second-generation Mazda3 and Mazda CX-5, and as the chief designer for the Mazda6 facelift for the North American market. Since 2011, he has worked at Mazda’s Design Division as the chief designer for the Mazda CX-9 facelift and now as the chief designer for the Mazda CX-3. He is the proud owner of a Mazda MX-5. Since buying the car new, he has left the exterior mostly untouched, but thoroughly customized the engine and suspension. Demonstrating his passion for cars, he has also secretly modified his family’s Mazda5.
Q1: How did you feel when you were named chief designer for the Mazda CX-3 as an entirely new model in the Mazda lineup?
A: Given that no previous version existed, this was an opportunity to do something interesting. As such, I figured I had nothing to lose by going all out and designing it the way I like. The only condition given to our design team at the outset was the base platform from which we were to work. Of course, the project also shared the major proposition that the model would contribute to establishing Mazda’s unique brand position. KODO design was an obvious choice for the CX-3, as was fully employing SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, which links directly to the packaging. Those factors meant we faced an even larger number of extremely important conditions and the reality of more restrictions than usual. Despite this, we decided to build a new crossover that we ourselves would truly desire.

Q2: What requests did you make of the design team’s members?
A: As we are looking to appeal to customers who possess progressive values, I knew we had to build a car that would resonate with their keen sensibilities. As such, I encouraged the design team members to assume the keen sensibilities of creative professionals and work on the premise of satisfying our own personal desires. I also encouraged them to be proactive in sharing every idea that came to mind without worrying about how they might be evaluated. This became the starting point for increasingly deeper rounds of discussion.

Q3: How did you settle on the direction the design would take?
A: The Advanced Design Studio within the Design Division at Mazda’s Hiroshima headquarters is where we work on developing advanced designs. This includes constantly experimenting with new expressions for KODO design. We picked out the elements befitting the brand new car we envisioned from among the ideas born of those experiments and then came up with the specifics for the CX-3’s design. Of course, what truly gave birth to the design of the CX-3 were the overall assets of Mazda design, from the efforts and skills employed daily to form an unwavering brand expression, to the brand’s long history.

Q4: Are there differences in the KODO design concept for previous models and the CX-3?
A: Two keywords associated with KODO design are “Alluring” and “Dignity.” “Alluring” speaks of elegance and a sensual appeal that conveys the warmth of body temperature. Executing an emotional design on a product makes its first impression “alluring.” In contrast, the gallant image that first catches the eye with the CX-3 is one that speaks of “Dignity.” I think that stems from my strong conviction that the CX-3’s design should convey a sense of intelligence. Living creatures are able to make sharp movements because they possess intelligence. I therefore placed great importance on realizing in each image and detail a sense of movement controlled on the whole by intelligence.

Q5: What were you particularly aware of from the perspective of expressing a keen sense of values?
A: I repeatedly said to the design team, “let’s make it futuristic.” Rather than considering a new design based on current trends, I wanted to come up with a realistic image of something from the near future. I’d say adopting this viewpoint is what allowed us to create a crossover design that is this stylish and uniquely new in appearance.

Q6: What features of the CX-3 do you want customers to notice most?
A: I want them to first notice the flowing side view; from this angle it really doesn’t look like a small car. I also think the face’s dignified look of intelligence presents a slightly different ambience than previous iterations of KODO design. In addition, we created a simple structure for the carefully thought out surfaces that are unique to KODO design, and I think people will view them more directly than with previous iterations. We took on the challenge of creating a more radical and stylish expression while still using KODO design as the primary base. Doing so produced a new design for the CX-3 that transcends classifications and preconceptions of the genre.

Takahiro Matsui – Digital Designer
Takahiro Matsui joined the company in 1992. After gaining experience as a clay modeler, he was engaged as a digital modeler working on production model development. He transferred to Mazda Australia Pty Ltd. in 2007, and there he was responsible as a leader for digital modeling in a joint program with Ford Motor Company. Assigned to the Advanced Design Studio in Mazda’s Design Division since 2011, he worked as the digital designer for the Mazda SHINARI and Mazda TAKERI concept cars. Following that, he took on responsibility for the advanced design of the CX-3. On his own time, he enjoys pursuing his hobby of playing in a rock band.
Q1: What does the work of a digital designer involve?
A: It is not a common position within the industry and I am currently Mazda’s only digital designer. The normal design development process calls for the designer to draw idea sketches, after which the clay and digital modelers give them form as the team works to create the actual model. In contrast, the digital designer consolidates all of those processes by directly rendering their ideas as 3D data. Because the designer gives form to the image straight from his head, the process is both efficient and makes it possible to more faithfully embody the designer’s vision.

Q2: So, even for the CX-3, you started with a virtual depiction without any sketches on paper?
A: The Advanced Design Studio to which I belong constantly comes up with a variety of new ideas and builds a stock of them. Then, when contemplating advanced designs for production models, we weave those ideas into the project. Some simple sketches did exist when developing the CX-3, but I did most of the design on the computer while putting our stock of ideas and my previous experience to use.

Q3: How much does your virtual design differ from the final design of the production model?
A: My original 3D data proposal became the presence model just as I created it. The presence model is a full size model used to examine how the vehicle’s size and appearance come across, and how its presence fits within the lineup. While we create a presence model for any model of car, it is only the first step of a more involved process. Because of this, it is normal for the design to be completely rethought or thoroughly revised afterward. However, in the case of the CX-3, even the executives directed me to go with the presence model as it stood, so that went straight to becoming the base for the production model.

Q4: How did you achieve this unusual result?
A: For starters, I created the design in one fell swoop based on the thinking that we wanted to build the car our design team members personally desired. I think one major factor was that this straightforward thinking and my simplified process meshed well enough that I was able to make a clear design proposal. In addition, I believe it was possible because of the hard modelers who perfectly embodied the digital design in the presence model, as well as the fine craftsmanship of the clay modelers who took that appeal and carried it through to the production model.

Q5: What challenges would you like to pursue with digital design in the future?
A: Even when working in digital space, what I am actually doing is handwork that investigates human sensibilities. As such, I want to continue to pursue aggressive design proposals in which one can feel the warmth of that handwork, while also leveraging the characteristics of the digital process for creating unlimited three-dimensional expressions and fine details.


Yasuo Suzuki – Exterior Designer
Yasuo Suzuki joined the company in 2004. He works in the Production Design Studio of Mazda’s Design Division and was the exterior designer of the second-generation Mazda6. In 2007, he was assigned to Mazda Australia Pty Ltd. where he was responsible for the design of the Mazda BT-50 pickup truck. After returning to Hiroshima in 2009, he worked on the Mazda2 and Mazda3 before being put in charge of the exterior design for the CX-3. His hobby is touring the beautiful islands around Hiroshima on his road bike.
Q1: What was most important in bringing the presence model to the production design?
A: In a nutshell, it involved how to deliver the appeal of the presence model into the hands of customers without changing it. We were determined not to compromise by making any concessions regarding changes to meet the conditions for putting the model into production. It goes without saying that we had to comply with motor vehicle laws and regulations, and also had to clear Mazda’s standards for making it comfortable for people to ride in, to see out of properly, and to drive well. This made it necessary to get a grasp on what aspects of the presence model would lose what degree of their appeal and what we had to do to prevent those from being lost.

Q2: What aspects of the presence model did you and the engineers push to bring out its appeal?
A: Even though there were countless details for which we performed repeated rounds of adjustments in millimeter increments, we did treat the face as particularly important. We developed the CX-3 in the spirit of giving it the world’s handsomest face. So, while we considered cooling performance and the license plate mounting position, we went through many iterations of the face with a particular focus on the construction of the front grille. The same goes for the height of the beltline. We wanted to create a contrast between the bold body shape and compact cabin, but factoring in conditions such as visibility required dropping the beltline lower and lower. Because a difference in five or ten millimeters can be enough to ruin the design theme, we were absolutely determined to make every effort to maintain the right height.

Q3: How did you achieve the design while satisfying the conditions of tooling for production?
A: The designers worked with the entire development team to work out the solutions. We timed our presentation of the completed model to our superiors and management for review so that we could also show it to the engineers. Timing this quite a lot earlier than normal allowed us to share with the engineers the appeal we wanted the CX-3 to have, as well as our desire to work together to resolve all related issues.

Q4: What points of the final design do you want people to notice most?
A: Based on what I am most deeply attached to, I would say the face. It has a bold look that I think is the handsomest in the world. We also placed great importance on its beautiful stance and bold surfaces. Highlight features include the three-dimensional signature wing that blends into the sleek headlamps to follow the car’s axis. We have worked on developing this expression since the Mazda SHINARI concept car, and the CX-3 is the first to realize it in ideal fashion on a production model. Imagine catching the CX-3’s bold face as it appears in the rearview mirror while driving. You then see the changes in its body surfaces as it passes you, and your eyes follow its rear view as the CX-3 drives away. When viewed from a distance, it appears clean and handsome. As it draws closer, the power of its presence becomes instantly stronger and our keen attention to detail catches the eye. Regardless of the scene and from any angle, the final product is full of appealing surprises.

Hiroaki Saito – Interior Designer
Hiroaki Saito joined the company in 1991. After being assigned to the interior design division, he was responsible for the interior design of the third-generation Mazda MX-5, the third-generation Mazda2, the Mazda Biante, the facelift to the Mazda CX-7, the Mazda CX-5, the third-generation Mazda3, and now the Mazda CX-3. On his days off, he enjoys taking long trips in his own first-generation Mazda MX-5.
Q1: What was the most difficult challenge you faced in developing the interior design?
A: I began working on a 100% original design before the decision came down that we would go with an instrument panel common to other models developed earlier. I was somewhat perplexed when I first heard that decision, but my spirits changed as soon as I decided to enjoy the process of seeing how attractive a design I could create while fully leveraging the influence of the change to the common design. Looking back on it, my passion for the project may have bordered on the maniacal. One thing that helped lift my spirits so I could enjoy the process was seeing the model of the exterior design for the first time. From that moment, I wanted to work on the CX-3. In the end, I wove in enough new technology to equal that of the development of two new car models and created an original new interior for the CX-3.

Q2: What theme were you most particular about in creating the interior expression?
A: One constant throughout is the expression of fine quality. To achieve this, I was particularly exacting when it came to creating an expression of build quality that is progressive and directly conveys a sense of fine craftsmanship. One example is the ornamentation for the inner door handles, which features the look of machined aluminum with polished edges to express quality that surpasses the class. To create it, we machined parts from solid blocks of aluminum and used them as reference as we aimed to create the same texture and appearance. I believe it is because we pushed our efforts to this extent that the resulting hairline finish used on the inner door handles goes beyond the look of typical silver paint to create an expression of texture and appearance that is on par with real aluminum.

Q3: Please tell us what repeated adjustments you and the engineers had to make in working toward an expression of high quality.
A: For the door trim, I wanted to give the stitched-look part of the cushioned panel on the side of the armrests a three-dimensional look, but it was extremely difficult to convey this to the engineers on the development team. I therefore went as far as to look at the structure of the internal parts and created dozens of clay models of those parts before achieving the puffy look I was after. I then covered this in the cushion material and explained it to the engineers. Everything became possible because of my strong determination. Impressed and inspired by the exterior design, I wanted to create an interior design that both rivals it and lets customers choose the CX-3 for the quality of the interior without any reservations.

Q4: What aspect of the interior environment do you want the customer to notice most?
A: Selecting every detail with the greatest care and extracting only what was necessary for use, we proceeded to build each component to provide fine texture and polished quality. I want the customer to enjoy the lines, quality of the surfaces, how parts mate where they meet, and the overall cabin environment that they combine to create.

Yukina Kimura– Color Designer
Yukina Kimura joined the company in 2011. As a member of the color and trim design group, she participated in the development of the third-generation Mazda3 and is presently responsible for the color design of the Mazda CX-3. She majored in product design at university with a focus on making items that people will find practical to use in everyday life. She was also involved in furniture design and the production of clothing and accessories for fashion shows.
Q1: On what things were you most particular as the color designer for the CX-3?
A: My first impression of the exterior was a pure reaction that it was “cool” and “classless,” so I decided to aim at creating an expression for the interior that was not bound by notions of class or genre. Rather than simply consider color, I concentrated hardest on a look of high quality by working with the interior designer to create the textures for the interior. For the overall interior finish, I paid particular attention to the fine details and quality of all the functional parts in order to achieve a level of depth that would resonate immediately with mature tastes, while also making it progressive and tasteful.

Q2: What design on the finished product best represents your vision?
A: That would be the dark red used on the air conditioning louver rings, which has a sensually alluring quality that looks almost wet. We developed this color exclusively for the CX-3 to resonate with mature tastes and still not appear orthodox. Depending on the grade specification, this shade of red is used on the piping for the seats, the door trim armrests and the floor console kneepads. We created close to 100 samples before settling on the color for which I was aiming. I kept a close watch each and every process throughout development to ensure that the color did not change due to the expression of the grain or conditions related to taking the model to production.


Q3: Did you challenge yourself to create any specific expression not found on any previous models?
A: While piping is normally used around the edges of a seat, I took the initiative to develop a new design that places it on the surface of the seat cushions. Because many seat cushions have flat surfaces, they tend to look expressionless. This is why I considered it necessary to add an accent to match the expression of the CX-3. Adding the piping to the seat cushion was a new venture. I created a wide variety of image samples and used them to persuade other members of the development team time and again before finally getting the green light for its use on the production model.

Q4: What aspects of the seat material were you most particular about?
A: There were more than I could list, but one example would be the combination of pure white leather and Lux Suede®. When it comes to fabric seats, those used on previous models have featured patterns and such to give the actual fabric some character. For the CX-3, I went for a look of higher quality with a three-dimensional touch by carefully using combinations of different materials and added accents. One example is the texture of the fabric with a subtle luster like that of carbon fiber. To create that, I personally took an iron and experimented by passing it over pieces of sample material as I aimed to find the right level of gloss.

Q5: How was the new Ceramic Metallic body color created?
A: Development began with seeking a silver color with a new shine that suited the progressive look of the CX-3. I narrowed the focus to two possible directions. One was a classical silver with modulations in shadows clearly defining the highlights. The other was the Ceramic Metallic that featured a solid look with light gently floating off it. Experimenting by painting a Mazda6 with the Ceramic Metallic color showed us that, instead of the strong contrast we were accustomed to, the new silver didn’t demonstrate much modulation and its expression didn’t impress us. However, it did possess an unusual charm. That is how it struck me. Then, when we tried using it to paint the CX-3 presence model, it fit perfectly. Ceramic Metallic was a good match for the solid look and explosive flares of the CX-3 body’s surfaces.


CX-3 Design team

Left to right: Yasuo Suzuki, Youichi Matsuda, Yukina Kimura, Hiroaki Saito, Takahiro Matsui