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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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2017 Mazda 3 Interior and exterior design overview


2017 Mazda 3 Interior and exterior design overview 2017 Mazda 3: Sharper, Crisper, Cleaner A few midlife tweaks for Mazda's well-rounded compact.

The well-rounded Mazda 3 compact is being freshened for 2017. The relatively mild updates to the U.S. model, which were previously announced for the global version of the car, include tweaked exterior styling, some new interior bits, updated active-safety features, and the addition of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control system for improved steering response.

That doesn’t sound like much, but the 3 didn’t need much improvement—in its current form, it has earned a spot on our 10Best Cars list for the past three years. Nonetheless, the changes for 2017 are welcome, especially the revised exterior that nicely sharpens the 3’s look. The reshaped grille and headlights present a slightly more aggressive face to the world, and LED headlights are newly available on higher-trim models. A new rear bumper appears a bit cleaner and crisper than before, at least on the pictured hatchback model (Mazda has yet to release photos of the U.S.-spec 2017 sedan).

The 18-inch wheels available on the 3’s s trim also are slightly different, although the 16-inch wheels and hubcaps on lower-spec i versions remain the same. Two new colors are available: Machine Gray Metallic joins the palette, while Eternal Blue Mica replaces the previous Blue Reflex Mica.

Interior revisions are a bit more noteworthy, with the 3 adopting a steering wheel similar to that in the new CX-9 crossover, an electric parking brake that frees up center-console storage space, and some nicer trim for the door panels. The optional head-up display is now full color rather than monochromatic, and the door pockets are said to be much larger than before. A heated steering wheel is a new option, while upholstery upgrades include nicer fabric for the standard cloth interior, new espresso-colored accents for the optional black leather interior, and parchment-colored leather replacing the previous almond shade. Mind you, this is in a car we’ve already adjudged to have the best interior available for under $30,000.

As for the 3’s mechanicals, the most significant addition is Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, a new steering system that reduces torque when entering a corner to increase the responsiveness of the steering rack. We sampled this system on a Mazda 6 test mule and found the results to be subtle but effective. To combat relatively high levels of road noise—one of our few complaints about the 3—Mazda said it has revised the dampers and sound insulation for a quieter overall ride.

There are no engine changes. The 2017 Mazda 3’s two engine choices remain a 155-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder on 3 i models and a 184-hp 2.5-liter inline-four on 3 s models. As before, either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission is available regardless of engine choice, something that can’t be said about many of the 3’s competitors, which limit manual-transmission availability to the basement models.

A suite of active-safety features remains on the options list: forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring. A new camera is now part of the package, which Mazda says expands the speed range at which pedestrians can be detected for the automated emergency-braking system. Cars equipped with the i-Activsense package can now also recognize road signs.

More nitty-gritty information on the 2017 Mazda 3, including pricing and official EPA mileage numbers, should be released soon. The 2017 model is scheduled to go on sale in September. We don’t expect much of an increase from the current 3’s starting prices of $18,680 for the sedan and $19,380 for the hatchback.

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