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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Happy 20th Birthday, Mazda3!

Happy 20th birthday, Mazda3! Revealed at the 60th Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003, the first-generation Mazda3 built on the success of its predecessor, the 323. After spanning four generations, it has proven to be a huge sales success both at home in Japan and around the world.

A strong clue to the future Mazda3 came at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 2003 when Mazda showed the MX Sportif concept car, which unapologetically showed off the style of Mazda’s next generation of family hatchback. The design was led by chief designer Hideki Suzuki and involved collaboration between Mazda’s design centers in California, Germany, and Japan.

When the final production car, designed by Hasip Girgin, was revealed at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show it stayed true to the concept car’s look inside and out. The Mazda3 came with a choice of hatchback and sedan body styles. It quickly won praise for being an affordable, fun-to-drive, and well-built compact.

Built atop the “C1” platform, the first-generation Mazda3 was offered with a 1.6- and 2.0-liter engine for the Philippine market. It was assembled at the Ford Santa Rosa, Laguna Assembly Plant. At one point, it became the best-selling compact car in the country.

The second-generation Mazda3 Saloon was revealed in November 2008 at the Los Angeles Auto Show with the Hatchback shown a few weeks later at the Bologna Motor Show. While it retained the same “C1” architecture it featured a completely new body and a more modern look.

Longer and wider, yet lighter, than the first-generation it came with carryover powertrains for the Philippine market. Unfortunately, a switch of sourcing from the Philippines to Japan meant a hefty price increase.

Introduced in 2013 (along with a switch of Philippine distributor from Ford Philippines to Bermaz Auto, formerly known as Berjaya Auto), the third-generation Mazda3 saw a big step forward, it featured an all-new exclusively Mazda Skyactiv Technology platform and architecture. This generation Mazda3 was also the first to adopt Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy, the third model to do so after the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6. It also saw the introduction of 1.5- and 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G petrol despite being bigger than the outgoing model, it was once again lighter than its predecessor.

With a longer wheelbase but shorter front and rear overhangs than the previous model, and helped by its dynamic Kodo design, this generation was a sportiest looking Mazda3 to date. With the hot hatch market shrinking in Europe, the third-generation Mazda3 focused on a move upmarket. It was also the first to offer Mazda’s now signature color: Soul Red.

To highlight the reliability of the third-generation Mazda3 a group of cars were driven from the factory in Hiroshima to Frankfurt for the Motor Show, having crossed the Sea of Japan, they then drove 15,000 kilometers from Vladivostok to Germany traversing Russia, Belarus and Poland, repeating a feat first completed with the original Mazda 323 in 1977. Closer to home, Mazda did the same with the Skyactiv Caravan which looped ASEAN countries—Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and then back to Thailand.

In common with the first two generations of Mazda3, the third-generation Mazda3 was also a global success story for Mazda. Well-received by media and customers, the Mazda3 made it to the shortlist for European Car of the Year in 2014, however it was the fourth-generation car that claimed the coveted World Car Design of the Year accolade in the 2020 World Car of the Year Awards.

Based on the stunning Mazda Kai concept car, the fourth-generation Mazda3 was unveiled at 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, and staying very close to the looks of the 2017 concept car, it took Kodo design to the next level, setting new standards of athletic and artistic aesthetics for a family hatchback, while thanks to completely unique body panels, the Mazda3 saloon moved ever further into the realm of rivaling compact premium saloon rivals.

The fourth and current generation Mazda3 saw the debut of an electrified version of the Skyactiv-G engine. The 24-volt M Hybrid system in the e-Skyactiv-G pairs the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G direct-injected engine with a small Belt-driven Integrated Starter Generator or B-ISG. The B-ISG captures energy that’s normally wasted during braking and stores it in a small lithium-ion battery to power the car’s electrical systems. Overall, this reduces the load on the engine, saving fuel in the process.

Bringing perspective to the significant role the Mazda3 has played in shaping Mazda’s brand image and commercial success over the last 20 years, it has reached global sales of over six-million units and has been one of Mazda’s best-selling models over the last two decades.


  1. Happy Birthday car that looks like an Alfa Romeo Brera or a pooping dog!

  2. Happy 20th birthday Mazda 3. Zoom-zoom!

  3. Mazda sales in the local market is losing steam due to very steep pricing. And power train is can't compete with the norm turbo powered engine. lastly seems feeling going in luxury premium brand direction which will never happen anyway.

    1. It already happened, its an entry level premium, your turbo powered engines cant outmatched the skyactive engines of a mazda, and they are more reliable.

  4. 1st generation Mazda 3 did sell very well,2nd generation wasn't that popular while the 3rd generation one did very well..The current generation one is also good


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