Retrospective

Mazda 323 to Mazda3: Tracing the history of the hatchback to today

The Mazda 323 evolved to the Protogé then to the modern Mazda3.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The Mazda Familia was introduced in time for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Japan. There were five different models of that first-ten Familia but it wouldn't be until the third generation of the model in 1977 that Mazda offered the car in a hatchback style. Ever since, Mazda has had a compact hatchback on its menu, culminating in the modern Mazda3.

Styled as the 1977 Mazda 323, the hatchback was a rear-wheel drive family car that gained popularity all over the world. Americans came to know the hatchback as the Mazda GLC (for Great Little Car). Buyers could get it in a three- or five-door hatchback body style. An estate version of the car was introduced 1978.

1977 Mazda GLC The Mazda GLC debuted in 1977.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda sold the '77 in the U.S. with a 52-horsepower 1,272cc gasoline-powered engine under its hood. In 1978, a 1,415cc gasoline engine replaced the smaller power plant and produced 65 horsepower.

1979 Mazda GLC Commercial www.youtube.com

For the 1980 model year, Mazda restyled the model giving it front-wheel drive. Its headlights went from round to square, integrating with the grille in a style that matched the Mazda 626/Capella, and a five-speed manual gearbox was introduced.

Mazda's U.S. marketing campaign for the next few years featured the tagline, "Just one look - that's all it took," and relied heavily on touting its fuel efficiency and low price tag.

Despite the advertising efforts, the GLC's time in the continental U.S. was very limited. Its new generation, which featured a twin-barrel 1.5-liter engine that produced 68 horsepower, was only sold through 1985. In that generation, the three-door body style was sold in the contiguous states while the five-door variant made its way only to Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

With the GLC now bearing 323 badging, the car was available only as a sedan or hatchback in its third-generation, starting in 1985. The next-gen model was sold as a 323 in the U.S. in hatchback format while the sedan version became the Mazda Protegé.

While Mazda continued to make a hatchback version of the car for other parts of the world, by 1994, they had called time on the model style in the U.S. Still, the Protogé sedan stuck around.

1978 Mazda GLC The model had design hallmarks of its time, shown here as a 1978 model.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

In 1998, a five-door version of the Protogé made its way to U.S. dealer lots as the Protegé5. It was the hatchback America had been missing. The model got a platform update in 1999 making it bigger than before, then, in 2001 a facelift. The Protegé5 was powered by a 130-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and had a fresh interior.

Enter: the Mazda3. In 2003, the first-generation Mazda3 made its debut as a compact car, replacing the Protegé as Mazda's compact offering. It was marketed as the Mazdaspeed3 in the U.S. The Mazdaspeed3 name had been used on the last version of the Protogé in Japan so the Mazda3 was called the Axela there.

The Mazdaspeed3 was sold in sedan and hatchback variants, and two engine options: a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter and 160-horsepower 2.3-liter. High-performance models worse Mazda3 MPS badging and used a turbocharged version of the 2.3-liter engine to generate 268 horsepower.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Mazda3 reached its sales peak in the U.S. Last year, only half as many models were sold in the U.S. just four years earlier.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 The Mazda3 has been redesigned from the top down for the 2020 model year. Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The Mazda3 was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. It now is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 186 horsepower. It is one of the few cars that comes with an available manual transmission (a six-speed). It continues to be a front-wheel drive model with all-wheel drive available. Reviewers note that its back seat and trunk are smaller than what you'd traditionally expect from a vehicle of the Mazda3's size.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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