Reader Hendrik Pretorius snapped some pictures of a Mazda3 out on a shopping trip in Pretoria.

Reader Hendrik Pretorius snapped some pictures of a Mazda3 out on a shopping trip in Pretoria.

Spotted in Centurion on Sunday, the Mazda3 was being used by a lady and her kids to do some shopping. Apparently unaware of all the fuss she was causing, she initially parked it on its own and later, realising it would draw some attention, parked it among several other vehicles in the lot. By this time, Pretorius noted, the car had attracted many onlookers, and he was on hand to take some snapshots.

Though the badges were taped over, this car was definitely the saloon version of the Mazda3, which is due to make its appearance here in mid-July.

While the hatch's styling will be particularly aggressive with great sporting appeal, the saloon's styling is more conventional and elegant to appeal to the small family. The front end features flared fenders, a bulbous bonnet and a rounded roofline. This is combined with a flared bumper and stylish combination lamps at the rear.

The hatch is squat with very strong rear haunches and a spine running down the centre of the rear tailgate. FMCSA spokesman Craig von Essen told CARtoday.com that both the saloon and hatch versions would be built at the company's Silverton plant.

The Mazda3 has a long wheelbase (2 640 mm), and is also one of the widest (1 755mm) and tallest (1 465 mm) vehicles in its class. This guarantees a particularly roomy interior, with generous adjustment offered by both the steering wheel and driver's seat.

Von Essen would not elaborate on which engine derivatives would be offered, but it is expected that the Mazda3 will début with at least a 77-kW 1,6-litre engine and a 104-kW two-litre four-cylinder petrol powerplant further up the range. These will be paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

According to Mazda, the 3's sterling handling characteristics are assured with the front suspension comprised of MacPherson struts with a four-point rubber mounting system. The fluid-filled bushings, similar to those used on the Mazda6, are used at the rear of the lower arms. The steering gear is mounted lower and the tie rods are shorter. This ensures better steering feel and improved handling stability, which translates into the Mazda3 being a real driver's car.

With the multi-link rear suspension, the springs and dampers have been separated to reduce damper friction. This also creates more space for a larger luggage load area.

There are two steering systems - an electro-hydraulic power-assisted system (EHPAS) is standard for the MZR two-litre petrol version while hydraulic power-assist will be offered for all other engine derivatives.

Standard safety systems include ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and brake assist with optional dynamic stability control. Dual-stage front airbags, side airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load-limiters, a collapsible steering column and brake pedal, and ISOFIX child seat anchors with top tethers at the outer rear seats are all offered as standard interior features.

Original article from Car