You may need to squint to see the differences, but Mazda has updated its 3 compact sedan and hatchback for the 2017 model year, releasing preliminary details overseas. The changes, most of which will carry over to the U.S. models, include a reworked front end with LED headlights and a revised interior, as well as the addition of a handful of new technologies.
If the recent facelift of the Mazda 6 is anything to go by, though, don’t be surprised if the 3’s new front end is limited strictly to higher-end models. In Mazda’s mid-size sedan, lower-end models with halogen headlights continue to use the car’s original headlight and bumper design. In contrast, expect the 3’s interior changes to be available across the entire lineup. The updated innards appear to include an all-new steering-wheel design, a tambour-style cover for the center-console-mounted cupholders (as seen in the 6), and some minor trim changes.
While the 3’s improved looks inside and out are appreciated, the compact car’s most noteworthy changes are technology related. The available head-up display is now full color, as in the Mazda CX-9, while the 3’s optional automatic braking system now uses a camera in place of a laser. Due to this, the system is now able to work at a greater speed range and detect pedestrians.
Finally, the 3 is the first Mazda product to use G-Vectoring Control. We had a chance to experience the impressive system last month, which can lightly reduce engine torque in a turn to improve steering response and reduce needed corrections. The effects of G-Vectoring Control are subtle but worthwhile, and we’re happy to see Mazda invest in improving the actual act of driving.
The new 3 is now on sale in Japan (where it’s called the Axela) and will reach Europe later this year. There’s no word on when North American consumers will be able to get their hands on the updated 3. We reached out to a Mazda representative, who would only confirm that a number of these changes and technological improvements—although not all of them—will be offered in the North American 2017 Mazda 3.