Mazda’s human-centric approach to vehicle development is all about creating cars built for an effortless, joyful driving experience. The Jinba-Ittai philosophy strives for a completely intuitive and natural connection between car and driver. To achieve this perfect fit, Mazda conducted intensive research studies into how humans move naturally and what causes them stress while driving. The insights gained enable the All-New Mazda3 to bring out the innate abilities of human beings while avoiding physical or mental tension.
To this end, the cockpit and cabin were carefully designed to provide ease of operation and reduce distracting sources of visual noise. The dials, for example, are lit more brightly while other switches and gauges are more subdued to realise a unified appearance within the cabin at night. Mazda also applied the latest available knowledge and technology in designing the driving position, visibility, Mazda Connect system and audio quality to make the time spent in the car as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
A natural and relaxed driving posture helps to minimise the burden on the driver’s muscles when operating the vehicle, which in turn reduces fatigue. Mazda’s development engineers therefore focused on seat designs that firmly support the pelvis, as well as pedal layouts and steering adjustments that enable the driver to maintain a natural posture in the All-New Mazda3.
Numerous adaptations to the centre console prevent any elements from being cramped or awkward to access, while the gear lever and Multimedia Commander are moved forward so they can be operated with the arm at a more natural angle. The armrest is almost twice as long as before to make it easier and more relaxed for the driver to operate the Commander. The height of the centre armrest now matches that of the door trim, further contributing to greater comfort. By relocating the cup holders in front of the gear lever within the field of vision, the driver can comfortably reach for a drink while keeping both eyes on the road.
With the gear lever moved forward and positioned higher on both the automatic and manual transmission versions it’s easier for the driver to move their hand between it and the steering wheel. The shift action is crisp, and it feels as though the lever is being smoothly drawn towards the next position. The manual transmission shift knob now features a flatter top, and the flattened sides help to guide the hand when moving the lever from side to side.
The telescopic steering gains an additional 10mm of movement at either end to offer an adjustment range of 70mm, which delivers more precise control over the driving position adjustment. The All-New Mazda3 also features a revised seat lifter track. The driver can adjust the seat more smoothly to achieve an optimum seating position and an ideal range of vision. In addition, front seat cushion tilt adjustment is now included as standard. This helps to prevent the angle of the seat from causing the occupant’s thighs to float above the cushion or placing undue pressure on them. The result is firm support that keeps the pelvis in an upright position.
For the All-New Mazda3, changes in the shape of the A-pillar, as well as improved wiper functionality ensure a clear and continual view of the road. Mazda’s engineers redesigned the thickness and shape of the A-pillar to reduce the amount of area that is obscured. The development team calculated exactly what degree of movement of the neck and eyes is optimal for the driver and then carefully designed each detail of the pillar shape to provide a natural field of view. The new design significantly reduces blind spots ahead of the car, while maintaining a natural driving posture.
To provide the widest possible field of view, the evolved windscreen wipers constantly adjust their operating angle in fine increments. This allows them to clean right up to the edge of the glass and ensure visibility near the driver’s side A-pillar at all driving speeds. The wipers are housed beneath the bonnet, which helps to provide a clear downward view out of the windscreen. In addition, the washer nozzles are attached to the wiper arms so their spray can be wiped away immediately after application. These evolved functions provide the driver with a clearer field of vision in inclement weather.
This focus on driver and car oneness also extends to the infotainment and instrument displays, which have been designed to ensure a unified and optimised look and feel. The 7-inch TFT display at the centre of the instrument cluster presents information clearly and simply for instant recognition. It is aligned with the windscreen-projected Active Driving Display, concentrating information critical to driving safety in the upper centre where the driver can see it instantly. Written warnings and indicators are also displayed centrally to help the driver quickly spot irregularities. The change to an LCD panel eliminates the need to show both km/h and mph together, which makes for a much cleaner display. The result is a more attractive appearance combined with greater reading ease.
The All-New Mazda3 adopts an extended 8.8-inch widescreen centre display, which enables a split-screen view. While the user moves through the menu on the left side of the screen, the right side contains an illustrative display for an intuitive understanding of the available options. Also, navigation and audio information can be displayed together, which increases the infotainment usability. The Active Driving Display, TFT dials and centre display are all designed to present information in a simply fashion with unified fonts to create a pleasing, consistent look.
In order to simply and accurately convey important information in any given situation, the All-New Mazda3 clearly separates the role of audible alerts and warning displays. Sounds are used to guide the driver’s awareness or convey the level of urgency, while displays describe the situation and how to resolve the problem. Instrument displays use simple, everyday language to clearly instruct the driver on what they need to do to drive safely. Meanwhile, the centre display provides a more detailed explanation of how severely the problem might affect the car and, specifically, how to bring it back to normal operation.
Switch operation for the All-New Mazda3 was unified based on research in cognitive psychology. Insights into what characteristics evoke a positive response to using switches, regardless of whether they are pushed, pulled, flipped or turned, influenced the design of the vehicle. For maximum operability, steering wheel switches combine the use of both toggle and push-type switches, and the surface of each switch is raised so it is instantly identifiable by touch. The driver also immediately feels the dividing point for upward and downward movement, making the operation of switches more intuitive than ever.
For the All-New Mazda3, the existing Mazda Connect system was renewed from the bottom up in order to enhance safety and user-friendliness. For instance, greater hardware processing ability and optimised software reduced the boosting time for the infotainment screen by half. Features like the navigation system are ready for use almost instantaneously after the ignition is turned on. Image and sound quality in the All-New Mazda3 were also greatly improved by digitalising signal transmissions from the camera and audio system. In addition, the performance of the voice recognition system has been enhanced to allow safer and easier operation while driving.
A number of improvements and new features make the All-New Mazda3’s navigation system more reliable and easier to use. A newly installed 3D gyro sensor with optimised control logic accurately calculates the vehicle’s position even in areas where receiving GPS information is difficult. Through CarPlay and Android Auto, this exact positioning information can also be used with smartphone navigation applications. Additionally, the quality and draw-up speed of 3D maps has been improved, resulting in better map visibility and a better grasp of the user’s surroundings. The new ‘One Box Search’ function allows the user to search for a destination by inputting keywords, just like a normal web search. ‘One Box Search’ predicts the correct destination with less letter input and learns to prioritise previously input destinations.
An equal amount of effort was also applied to ensuring the All-New Mazda3’s audio experience is first-class. The speaker layout is meticulously designed to provide clear sound in any situation, with the development team placing the bass speakers in the corners where the sound is particularly amplified. Other speakers are positioned and angled where their sound is less likely to be affected by reflected sound.
Furthermore, people are better able to sense the direction from which higher frequency sounds originate. This is why the high-range speakers are positioned on the left and right of the cabin, with the door speakers positioned on the upper section of the door trim. Placing the sound source at a height closer to the occupants’ ears realises a more natural sensation, while also helping the listener to better feel the depth and clarity of the sound.
The standard 8-speaker audio system uses a 3-way layout, with 3L woofers positioned on the sides of the front cowl, 2.5cm tweeters on the sail garnish and 8cm squawkers on the upper section of the front and rear door trim. Standard on GT Sport and GT Sport Tech models, the 12-speaker Bose® sound system adds an 8cm centre speaker, a pair of rear satellite speakers and a custom-designed subwoofer that achieves a fine balance between size and audio quality. It also features custom tuning to provide more powerful bass and higher audio quality. As the new audio system layout does not require the holes in the door panels that previous systems used, sound insulation quality is greatly improved, representing an engineering breakthrough.
Cabin occupants hear a variety of sounds while driving, ranging from street sounds and the car’s exhaust note to music playing from the speakers. Not all are necessary to the act of driving or even particularly enjoyable. However, some of them are absolutely necessary. This is what makes sound management so complex. The philosophy adopted for developing cabin quietness and the audio system for the All-New Mazda3 was to make the sounds that reach cabin occupants’ ears pleasing. Based on this principle, a great deal of effort went into delivering quality sound that feels natural to the ears.
In addition to the efforts made to deliver class-leading comfort and superb ergonomic simplicity, the standard of materials, meticulous quality and high-class ambiance of the all-new Mazda3’s cabin takes the interior standards to a level not seen before in a Mazda, while a 351-litre boot ensures luggage space and practicality are equally impressive.