The Mazda 3 went on sale in Japan in May 2019. Nearly four years later, Mazda has given its stylish compact car a mid-life update. The new 2023 Mazda 3 is mechanically unchanged but there’s now a new Ceramic Metallic paint, upgraded infotainment and additional convenience features.
However, Sonic Silver Metallic has been dropped from the colour palette.
The infotainment screen has been increased from the previous 8.8-inch to 10.25-inch. It now supports wireless Apple CarPlay, Qi wireless charging, with USB Type-C terminal (illuminated), on top of wired Android Auto.
There’s also remote engine start function.
The list of ADAS features has been expanded to include pedal misoperation control as well as driver alertness monitoring. The latter will warn a tired driver to pull aside, via notifications and buzzer chimes.
Curiously, Mazda has reduced the availability of SkyActiv-X variants, which is now limited only to the hatchback AWD variant, only with mild-hybrid (badged as e-SkyActiv-X).
Previously, the 2.0-litre supercharged lean-burn SkyActiv-X engine was available on both sedan and hatchback variants, irrespective of whether it is front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
SkyActiv-X is Mazda’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) engine – a technical term to describe an engine that works partly like a compression ignition diesel, partly like a spark ignition petrol – combining the best of both to achieve the lowest possible emission and highest possible fuel economy without resorting to expensive full-hybrid.
It’s a lean burning petrol engine, which means that it doesn’t produce a lot of power, which is why it needs a supercharger but don’t expect high power output from this – the goal of the supercharger is to bring power output level up to be on par with a regular naturally aspirated petrol engine, to compensate for the lean-burn setup.
The 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X engine makes 190 PS / 240 Nm, versus the similar capacity SkyActiv-G’s 156 PS / 199 Nm. Both engines are boosted by a 6.5 PS / 61 Nm and 6.9 PS / 49 Nm electric motor respectively.
SkyActiv-X is a very expensive setup, it’s one of those engines that only the people at Mazda, the same group of people who refused to give up on rotary engines, would build.
But the market clearly doesn’t appreciate the higher cost and minimal return. If improving fuel economy is the goal, why not just buy a proper hybrid?
The SkyActiv-X AWD variant starts from 3,419,300 Yen. The Toyota Prius, which is probably the best looking family hatchback / fastback on sale in Japan today, starts from 3,420,300 when equipped with E-Four AWD. The Prius has a 1-year waiting list in Japan.
Mazda didn’t reveal the take up rate of SkyActiv-X but some Japanese media say it’s only around 10 percent.
Prices of the new 2023 Mazda 3 have increased quite a bit too. The 2023 Mazda 3 now starts from 2,288,000 Yen goes up to 3,866,500 Yen. That’s a 5 percent jump in starting price. The 2.0-litre petrol-powered models are now mild-hybrids.
The new facelifted 2023 Mazda 3 is available in Japan with 4 engine options – 1.5-litre SkyActiv-G, 2.0-litre mild-hybrid e-SkyActiv-G, 2.0-litre mild-hybrid lean-burn supercharged SkyActiv-X, and 1.8-litre turbocharged diesel SkyActiv-X.
Closer to Malaysia, Bermaz Motor didn't launch SkyActiv-X variants of the Mazda 3, purely because of cost. The Mazda 3 currently sells for between RM 143,420 to RM 161,059, imported from Japan (CBU).