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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Balmain's Creative Director Olivier Rousteing is a Porsche fan.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

What does it mean to "drive defined"? A new series of videos from Porsche and the Creative Director of the Paris fashion label Balmain, Olivier Rousteing, explorers the meaning of the phrase. Rousteing says that he's been "fascinated" by Porsche since childhood.

The designer, who grew up in France, worked at Roberto Cavalli before becoming the Creative Director at Balmain in 2011. The powerhouse fashion brand was founded in 1945 and was previously lead by Oscar de la Renta. Modern Balmain designs feature elements of French couture mixed with Asian influence. In 2019, the brand launched the KYLIE X BALMAIN, a makeup collaboration with social media influencer Kylie Jenner.

Olivier Rousteing sits in a Porsche Panamera during the filming of the short.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The short videos, published on Porsche's social media channels and on Rousteing's Instagram feed, focus on Rousteing's powerful inner driving force. In a release, the luxury car manufacturer says that there are "many similarities between the fashion designer and the sports car brand" including boundary pushing and an eye toward the tradition-rich history of the company Rousteing leads into the modern age.

"Olivier Rousteing is not just an authentic Porsche enthusiast, he is also a perfect fit for us with his desire to make Balmain a modern brand with the highest standards of quality and luxury," says Jelena Batic who is responsible for the cooperation at Porsche. "Together, we explore his exceptional driving force in the films by examining the connection between the worlds of sports cars and fashion, which creates relevance for our existing customers, as well as for younger and female target groups."

The series kicked off with a video featuring the Porsche Panamera. It was just the first step in a planned, longer collaboration between Rousteing and Porsche. Further aspects of the partnership are expected to be made public in due course.

Watch the first video below.

Drive Defined with Olivier Rousteing www.youtube.com

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The Hyundai Santa Cruz will debut next week but ahead of that, the design department is giving a closer look at the truck in a new video.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

We'll see the Hyundai Santa Cruz in full for the first time when it debuts on April 15 but ahead of time, Hyundai is setting the stage for expectations with the model. To help with that, the company released a video today featuring the truck's design manager discussing the inspiration for the utility vehicle.

The quick one-minute video is hosted by Brad Arnold, design manager at Hyundai North America. The Southern California native is the leader of the team that created the Santa Cruz, a project that began years ago. He's joined in the video by Senon Franco, the lead designer at Hyundai North America.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America
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As Arnold explains in the video, the design of the Santa Cruz started with a simple premise: "this is not a typical truck". Based on how Arnold describes the capabilities of the truck, that sounds true. It is meant to "thrive in dense urban environments and the open outdoors". One could argue that no full-size truck on the market today does that. Neither do most of the midsize models, though their sizing is better for that landscape.

Arnold says that the Santa Cruz is "small in size", a call that serves to remind viewers that the Santa Cruz isn't a big truck. It's more similar in size to the forthcoming Ford Maverick, a small truck that slots below the Ranger in Ford's lineup.

However, the company isn't even calling it a truck. The new model is being referred to as the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. This sounds a lot like how Kia is referring to the new generation of its Carnival minivan as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

Arnold says that the design is meant to make the Santa Cruz not look like a truck. Rather, it's supposed to look "like a Santa Cruz". Part of that includes the front end, which looks like a carryover from the fascia of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

Among the other secrets Hyundai is giving away ahead of the product's reveal is that there will be more than one "efficient" powertrain, a flexible bed, "cutting-edge" connectivity, and all-wheel drive.

Watch the video for yourself below.

Design Inspiration | 2022 Santa Cruz | Hyundai www.youtube.com

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