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Mazda 3 2019: sedan and hatch personality split explained

Mazda has differentiated the exterior designs of its new-generation Mazda3 hatch and sedan in order for them to appeal to more buyers than the outgoing model did.

The third-generation Mazda3 hatch and sedan feature similar looks, with the former in danger of being mistaken for the latter with a longer boot.

However, the Japanese brand has opted to position the fourth-generation model towards more conservative sedan buyers that prefer a traditional take on the body style, while the hatch is more dynamic and sportier.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the Los Angeles motor show, Mazda Motor Corporation chief designer for Mazda3 Yasutake Tsuchida said the company went down this route, even though it received no customer feedback indicating the change should be made.

“Sedan customer prefers the formality,” he said. “But hatchback customer prefers the freedom or sportiness. So, when we talk about the clothes of customers – the sedan customer would prefer the business suit, but hatchback customer is non-suit.

“Those two customers are different. That’s why different cars for them. It’s a natural idea.”

Mr Tsuchida explained that it was an internal decision, adding that Mazda does not follow industry trends.

“Actually, to tell you the truth, Mazda design doesn’t look at the trends,” he said. “We don’t care about it. So, we are trying to make a vehicle that the customer would like to have.”

Mr Tsuchida revealed it was a “rather quick discussion” by Mazda’s design and product teams to further differentiate the hatch and sedan with the new model, adding that the move cost the company more than continuing with a near-identical look.

However, Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer and head of design and brand style Ikuo Maeda confirmed that this design strategy will not be used for other models that have two body styles, such as the next-generation Mazda2 and Mazda6.

“The strategy is actually limited to Mazda3, because we found the customers in this sedan segment, what they want is this more (traditional) three-box styling,” he said. “Actually, the hatchback is not that popular among those customers.

“For the sedan we decided to have this three-box styling from the start. And for the hatchback, we decided to not make (traditional) styling, because if we make hatchback in (traditional) styling, it is not so interesting. So, we decided on a different approach for the hatchback.”

The hatch features a distinct rear end with large C-pillars, a sloping roofline, a rounded tail and a circular tail-light signature that will soon be a brand signature.

The boot on the sedan is more pronounced than the outgoing model’s, with it featuring more traditional C-pillars.

Mazda is yet to confirm interior dimensions and cargo capacity for the new Mazda3, but the hatch’s new roofline has resulted in a 2cm reduction in rear headroom, while storage space has also decreased. Conversely, the sedan’s boot space is up.

Mr Tsuchida said the company opted for a sportier hatch knowing that some dimensions might be negatively impacted, but this move was made to stand out from the array of small SUVs that are hurting small-hatch global sales.

“Even in Europe, the small crossover (sales) volume is more than hatchbacks,” he said. “The price is the same and packaging is the same. The only difference is the ride height.

“Since the small crossover is a new trend recently, that’s why we need to have a unique and good weapon as a hatchback as we can’t win over small crossover models.”

Which Mazda3 body style do you prefer; the hatch or the sedan? Tell us what you think in the comments below.