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Old 03-10-2003, 09:14   #1 (permalink)
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Mazda MX Sportif concept is potential replacement for 323

By Mark Rechtin
Automotive News Europe / March 10, 2003

While not the exact replica of this autumn's replacement for the Mazda 323, the MX Sportif concept unveiled here carries many design cues for the car.

The MX Sportif is a look at the replacement for the 323, while a four-door sedan will also be made.

The 323 replacement will be called the Mazda3, and will share a platform with the next Ford Focus and Volvo 40 series.

The Mazda3 will have a 2640mm wheelbase, about 50mm longer than the current version, said Hideki Suzuki, chief designer at Mazda's Japanese advanced design studio.

While many concept cars lose much of their character because of cost restraints or production difficulties, Suzuki said the front and rear fascias, pronounced shoulders, projector-beam headlamps and upscale interior will make the final Mazda3.

Engine power is expected to be 150hp, up from 130hp for the current car.
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Old 03-26-2003, 07:45   #2 (permalink)
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Mazda's triple treat
The Courier-Mail
Gordon Lomas
26mar03

MAZDA'S product rebuilding phase is complete with the all-new replacement for the 323 uncovered recently at the Geneva Motor Show.

The final production version of the Mazda3 will be close to the MX Sportif concept version shown in Geneva when it is released in the northern hemisphere this year.

Mazda has shown in recent seasons that changes to final production versions of concepts have been limited to minor cosmetic tweaks.

The new 3, which will replace the 323 Astina and Protege models, is expected to be available in Australia early next year.

It will complete the product rebuilding process undertaken by Mazda's Hiroshima hierarchy a couple of seasons ago and which triggered the "zoom zoom" marketing line.

Mazda sales have gone through the roof, with the maker becoming Australia's top importer and ranking fifth on the sales charts behind the big four local manufacturers.

The 3 will join the
Mazda6 and Mazda2, which were released late last year and have provided the maker with stunning sales growth.

Mazda's evocative RX-8 rotary is set for a start mid-year. It will be a direct competitor for the hugely successful Nissan 350Z, which went on sale last month.

The family of agile, athletic and visually related models highlights the rebirth of Mazda branding.

The 3 continues Mazda's effort to offer desirable exterior styling, a functional and roomy interior and stronger driving dynamics.

"This vehicle (MX Sportif) is the next chapter in the story we have been writing," Mazda design director Moray Callum says.

The 3 promises to add a new level of design quality to the $20,000-plus hatch segment that is cluttered with proven winners such as Toyota's Corolla and the Holden Astra but which has lacked styling difference and punch.

Styling of the 3 is punctuated by taut contours, short overhangs and a prominent nose that carries through to the triangular rear pillars for a sharper stance on the road.

The 3 is powered by an MZR 2-litre inline four-cylinder engine that develops 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 187Nm of torque at 4500rpm and is mated with a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission.

Continuing from development on the eagerly anticipated RX-8, a driving simulator was used by engineers to evaluate and improve the visibility and ease of operation of the instrument panel.

The 3 features a 2640mm wheelbase, is 1760mm wide, 4350mm long and 1450mm high.

The 3 is using Ford's new global hatch platform that will be the base for the next generation of Focus and Volvo S40/V40 models.

MAZDA 3
PRICE: Not available
RELEASE DATE: Early next year
BODY: Five-door hatch
ENGINE: MZR 2-litre inline four-cylinder
POWER: 110kW@6000rpm
TORQUE: 187Nm@4500rpm
BRAKES: Ventilated discs front and rear
SEATING CAPACITY: 5
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