NEW YORK -- Mazda will introduce an updated infotainment and connectivity system in its 2014 Mazda3, finally addressing a major criterion for new-car buyers and an area in which Mazda has lagged the competition.
The system combines voice-activated audio controls, text-message dictation and the ability to download in-car apps to stream music, information and activity on Facebook and Twitter. An internally developed user interface displays the Mazda3's new infotainment options through a touch screen set above the center stack. Mazda's system accesses the apps and Internet-based content via a paired smartphone with a data plan.
Until now, Mazda has lacked an infotainment and connectivity system to compete with the likes of Ford's Sync, Chevrolet's MyLink, Kia's UVO and Hyundai's Blue Link. Mazda expects that the enhanced connectivity, along with advanced safety features, upscale design touches and fuel economy ratings expected to top the compact car segment, will propel U.S. sales of the redesigned Mazda3 beyond the 100,000- to 120,000-unit annual volume that the current generation has posted in five of the past six years.
The 2014 Mazda3, unveiled last week during a media event here, arrives stateside in September with a 155-hp, 2.0-liter or an optional 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine from Mazda's Skyactiv portfolio.
Tim Barnes, Mazda's director of product planning for the U.S. market, declined to disclose the car's estimated EPA rating but said the third-generation Mazda3 would have best-in-class fuel economy, which would put it in the low- to mid-40 mpg range.
High-end trims will feature better-quality interior materials with refined graining on interior plastics, satin-finished aluminum trim and leather seats. A transparent head-up display mounted above the instrument cluster features digital readings for speed, engine rpms and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
Full specifications, pricing and EPA fuel economy figures were not announced last week.