Mazda has given its popular Mazda3 small car a refresh for the 2018 model year, with an increase of standard specification on some variants and new nomenclatures that are expected to tide the model over until an all-new version arrives next year.
The changes apply to the Neo, Maxx and Touring variants, while driveaway pricing has remained untouched over current versions.
Neo variants are now called Neo Sport, and gain a 7.0-inch ‘MZD Connect’ touchscreen – now standard across the range – as well as the accompanying multi-function command controller, DAB+ digital radio, reversing camera and two extra speakers.
The range-opening variant still starts at $21,490 drive-away for the six-speed manual.
The Maxx gets similarly renamed to Maxx Sport, and is bolstered by the addition of automatic rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control and an electric parking brake, starting from $23,490 drive-away.
Meanwhile the mid-level Touring variant adds advanced keyless entry and continues to kick off from $25,490 drive-away for the three-pedal option.
Higher-spec variants – consisting of SP25, SP25 GT and SP25 Astina – carry over unchanged, and are priced from $25,990, $29,990 and $33,490 drive-away, respectively.
Opting for a six-speed automatic transmission adds $2000 to the asking price across the sedan and hatch range.
Neo Sport, Maxx Sport and Touring variants are powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm, driven through the front wheels.
As with the current model, all SP25-derived versions step engine displacement up to 2.5-litres, which comes with a bump in power to 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm.
Range-wide safety features include auto emergency braking and traction control, while Maxx Sport variants and up gain blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse emergency braking.
Eight paint hues are available on the new range, including ‘Soul Red Crystal’, ‘Machine Grey’, ‘Sonic Silver’, ‘Eternal Blue’, ‘Titanium Flash’, ‘Snowflake White Pearl’, ‘Jet Black’ and ‘Deep Crystal Blue’.
The Mazda3 finished 2017 as Australia’s fourth best-selling vehicle with 32,690 sales, behind the Toyota HiLux (47,093), Ford Ranger (42,728) and Toyota Corolla (37,353).
It finished second in its segment behind the Corolla, and ahead of the likes of the Hyundai i30 (28,780), Kia Cerato (18,731) and Volkswagen Golf (18,454).
Mazda has started 2018 strongly, outselling its Toyota small car rival by 425 with 3201 new registrations of the Mazda3 recorded in January.