• Jun 7th 2006 at 6:03PM
  • 24

Mazda Motor announced Tuesday that the newest version of its Axela model (known as the Mazda3 elsewhere) will go on sale later this month in the Japanese domestic market. The Axela and Axela Sport are joined by the Mazdaspeed Axela (pictured above, this model is the Mazdaspeed3 in North America and the Mazda3 MPS in Europe, Australia and New Zealand).

More pics and info after the jump...
The freshened Axelas (Axelae?) are intended to be "dynamic sporty compacts that further exceed your expectations," with enhancements to exterior and interior styling and dynamic performance. From our perspective, the best news is the addition of an all-wheel-drive model for the first time.

On the outside, the Axela gets redesigned front and rear fascia, new alloy wheels ranging up to 17 inches for the Sport and 18 inches for the Mazdaspeed version, a rear roof spoiler and side skirts. LED taillights appear on some models.

The interior gets a materials upgrade, along with optional leather and a new optional instrument package. An MP3-enabled eight-speaker Bose sound system is an available option.

Powertrain upgrades include the introduction of an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission (the Activematic) for the 2- and 2.3-liter models, and the addition of sequential valve timing for the 2-liter engine to give better low-end performance. All models receive a drive-by-wire throttle. The new all-wheel-drive option is currently available only with the 2-liter powerplant, and features an Active Torque Split AWD System to dynamically distribute power between the front and rear wheels depending on conditions.

The Mazdaspeed model (still FWD-only) gets the MZR 2.3-liter DISI turbo (shown below), good for about 260 hp and 280 foot-pounds of torque, driving through a six-speed manual. A new addition is a torque-sensing limited slip differential, to help deal with torque steer. The Mazdaspeed also gets exclusive aero enhancements, including a front spoiler, floating rear spoiler and streamlined underfloor.

[Source: Mazda]

Mazdaspeed 2.3-liter turbo

Axela "Sport" model

Mazdaspeed Axela with floating rear spoiler.

Mazdaspeed interior

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Having driven every mainstream compact car on the market, I've found the 3 to be hands-down the best-handling, best-steering, and most fun to drive in its class. A no-brainer for enthusiasts (though the sport-compact class is another matter).

      That said, I was sorely disappointed to hear that the Mazdaspeed version would come only in front-wheel-drive, as the early AWD rumors had me considering it as a replacement for my Mitsubishi Eclipse. The news that a mainstream AWD model will be available only rubs salt in the wound.

      Does Mazda just want to outdo the Caliber SRT-4 and GM's Stage III Delta coupes in the torque-steer wars, or what?

      Oh well. I still love ya, 3.
      • 9 Years Ago
      umm...The current C170 north american focus has better handling than the mazda3. The Focus is lighter has way more steering feel with its hydraulic assist. and there is more suspension travel to deal with bumps.
      • 9 Years Ago
      RESPONSE to 5: I`ll go as far as to say I wish Ford and GM built nice small cars like these.

      GM is importing the European Opel Astra that is identical dimensions to the Mazda 3. It will be sold in Saturn dealership.

      Ford should have replaced the C-170 (current aging Focus) with the C1 platform (European Focus, Mazda 3, and the Volvo S40/V50).
      • 9 Years Ago
      Rock on Mazda, looks good to me except for that spoiler.

      The only foreign automobile company I will ever support (Due to their Ford connection and you know... vehicles that are actually fun).

      When my current car dies this is what I'll buy (Unless Ford brings over the euro focus)
      • 9 Years Ago
      BTW, I hate the 17" rims on this 2007 GT model. They look more appropriate for an SUV, not a sporty hatchback.

      I prefer the 2004-06 MY 17" rims:



      On the other hand, I love the 18" rims on the MazdaSpeed3.
      • 9 Years Ago
      i'm #11, I did a request about an edited pic of the 3 as a 3-door version, here it is at http://www.auto123.com/fr/community/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14039
      • 9 Years Ago
      The front end is much better looking now, esp. the grille.

      I came very close to buying a 3 5 door but decided against it. Ended up with a late-model Protege5 instead.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I still have my 98 Astina....lets see if the finish and quality has improved yet? My hubbys early 80's model used to have that "solid" sound when you closed a door. Also the plastic smell of the existing mazdas is unpleasant and overpowering...Toyota are apparently dealing with the plastic stench... what about less toxins in the Mazdas?
      • 9 Years Ago
      280 pounds-feet?? and awd only for 2 litre models?! are they mad?!

      i still want the mazdaspeed 3, just cuz it's still the only japanese 5-door hatchback on the market here.
      • 9 Years Ago
      RESPONSE to #12: "Somehow I still magically got 36.5 (!) MPG a few weekends ago on a trip. Yes, I double-checked the math a million times."

      I have a 2005 Mazda 3 Sport GT (5-speed manual) and she drinks like a V8, averaging 23.368 MPG in 50% city/50% highway driving. My best was 30.662 MPG when I drove 60 MPH for a few hours. Very disappointed with the fuel economy, regardless of the complaints to Mazda of Canada.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Re: #'s 12 and 14:

      My wife has a Mazda3, GS sedan with auto transmission.

      We routinely get about 43-45 mpg on the highway cruising at 115 km/hr (about 70 mph). Not sure about the city since she drives it most of the time, but it seems quite good.

      The above mileage is in imperial gallons - that would be about 35 MPG in US gallons. We've had it for about 28 months and have about 59,000 km. on it. Love the car.
      • 9 Years Ago
      sweet. i lov emy wife's 3 hatchback. if the Speed version was AWD it would also be in my garage.
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