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Mazda3 Project Manager Kota Beppu chats with us about the design philosophy behind the new Mazda3, and how it points the way for the future.

22 Jul 2019


The brand new Mazda3 was first shown to potential Singapore buyers at this year's Singapore Motor Show, back in January. However, it is only six months later that customers can now finally see the car in the flesh, get behind the wheel for test drives, and of course take deliveries of the car.

The Mazda3 is obviously a key model for the Japanese manufacturer. Beyond just being one of its best-selling model, the new Mazda3 also captures many of the qualities that will come to define Mazda's transformation for the future. Mazda3 Program Manager Kota Beppu was in Singapore at the launch of the new Mazda3, and we took the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss what the new Mazda3 means for the brand.

A human touch

Mr. Kota Beppu, Program Manager of the new Mazda3, highlights the car's 'human-centric' philosophy
A key phrase that comes up a lot when Mr. Beppu talks about the new Mazda3 is 'human-centric'. According to him, Mazda’s key guiding philosophy when designing the new model was measuring performance according to what the human body feels.

This informs the way the suspension has been designed and tuned to minimise head movement, as well as the seats being designed to maintain the natural S-curve of the spine and keep the pelvis in an upright position.

Taken together, these are designed to allow the human body to maximise its own natural balancing ability, says Mr. Beppu. The reduced strain on the human body thus delivers a more comfortable overall experience.

Improved cabin quietness is achieved by lowering overall noise volume and reducing changes in noise direction
Part of the Mazda3's comfort also lies in the way sound is perceived. Another focus for the designers was to measure quietness based on what is within the 'comfortable level' for a typical human being, says Mr. Beppu. On his favourite element on the new car, Mr. Beppu tells us, "I dare to say the sound system. It's significantly improved to deliver a more authentic and immersive sonic experience." Separate tweeters, speakers and woofers handle different frequency outputs, and are all positioned within the cabin to create a soundscape that is natural sounding.

Forward looking technologies

Another big development with the new Mazda3 is that it's being offered with a M-Hybrid (Mild Hybrid) powertrain. Obviously, this is to bring the brand's products in line with tightening emissions regulations around the world (especially in the EU).

The new M-Hybrid system is a precursor to further electrification across Mazda's product lineup
Singapore is the first market to get the Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid engine, pairing a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine with a 24V battery. "We decided to use this M-Hybrid system depending on the regulations or taxes in the specific market," says Mr. Beppu. Mazda's new range of engines, the Skyactiv-X, will further this. "The M-Hybrid system is equipped with Skyactiv-X for all countries globally," Mr. Beppu tells us.

Moving forward, electrification will obviously be a key part of the brand's strategy. “We already announced that we are developing a full-EV system. The knowledge gained in the development process of this M-Hybrid system will be used to progress towards a full EV," says Mr. Beppu.

When it comes to M-Hybrid proliferation across the Mazda model range, "Basically, we are moving in that direction," says Mr. Beppu. To keep pace with regulations in various countries all getting to EU levels, Mr. Beppu says that Mazda needs to increase the ratio of Skyactiv-X and Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid sales volume across the entire lineup.  

New luxury

The Mazda3 also showcases the brand's focus on delivering premium and high-quality products
Mazda says that the new Mazda3 also represents a next step up in terms of luxury, as the brand aims to vault itself into a higher echelon. According to Mr. Beppu, two key future developments will highlight this. The first is continued development on the drivetrain to provide a smoother, more efficient and more premium experience.

The second is the added ability for customisation and personalisation. "Especially for customers who have the taste for premium things, they tend to have certain requirements or needs for customisation to fit into their unique identities. The Mazda3 at this point cannot meet this requirement to a satisfactory level," says Mr. Beppu.

Even as SUVs are seemingly taking over the automotive world, the new Mazda3 continues to hold an important place in Mazda's model lineup. Mr. Beppu believes that there will always be a market for it - whether for the more distinct and progressive styling of a compact sedan or hatchback, or the specific appeal of a car like the Mazda3.

Drivetrain development and increased customisation will be the focus on the next generation Mazda3, according to Mr. Beppu
The Mazda3 also points to the brand's aim for a more premium direction. "The way to achieve this is not by mimicking other brands, but rather through our design philosophy and manufacturing qaulity. So instead of benchmarking against other brands, we want to instead focus on pushing the boundaries on what we can do," says Mr. Beppu. 

And of course, it is precisely this conviction in its distinct philosophy that will allow Mazda to carve out a unique personality and character, necessary to create a more premium image. The brand new Mazda3 is another step in the right direction.

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