Mazda’s brains behind the CX-3

By HONG BOON HOW | 1 October 2015

Though he is not in the aviation industry, Mazda Motor Corp’s CX-3 programme manager Michio Tomiyama has a fondness for aircraft, especially jet fighters.

“Don’t get the wrong idea that I like wars. I only like jet fighters because of their beauty and uncompromising design and performance,” the soft-spoken bespectacled middle-aged man said at the media briefing of the CX-3 crossover in Melbourne, Australia recently.

Over the years of attending airshows, Tomiyama has built up a large personal photo and video library of fast jets.

He counts the Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18 Super Hornet among his favourites.

Mazda Motor Corp’s CX-3 programme manager Michio Tomiyama.
Mazda Motor Corp’s CX-3 programme manager Michio Tomiyama.

Working for the Mazda Motor Corp since 1986, Tomiyama said the CX-3 was designed as a new segment of its own and does not conform to any current ones.

He said the CX-3 was created to be compact on the outside and yet spacious inside while having a stylish outlook.

While the CX-3’s original target buyers were couples and young families with active lifestyles, Tomiyama said the vehicle’s smartlooks could also attract car buyers from other segments.

He said the seating position of the CX-3 was deliberately set at an “ideal” height so drivers would have good visibility of the road ahead, and make for an elegant entry and exit for women.


Also, the slightly higher seating position and cozy interior would make it easy for front and rear passengers to hold conversations.

The seats, Tomiyama said, were made of vibration absorbing urethane-based materials with appropriate firmness to provide comfort and support.

He said the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine used in the CX-3 is fuel efficient, has 30% less friction and is 9% lighter compared with the previous Mazda engine.

In addition to good driving dynamics, Tomiyama said the CX-3 has a strong SkyActiv interior structure and a host of electronic safety devices, ranging from anti-lock braking system, traction control to smart auto-braking to make it a safe vehicle.

Mazda Motor Corp chief designer Youichi Matsuda .
Mazda Motor Corp chief designer Youichi Matsuda .

Mazda Motor Corp chief designer Youichi Matsuda said the CX-3 is not a smaller version of the CX-5 although both vehicles share a crossover body style in general.

“The CX-3 gets the next generation Kodo - Soul of Motion styling that is more intense, judging from the vehicle’s taut and energetic body lines,” he said.

He also said Mazda’s Shinari sports coupe concept had played an important part in shaping the aggressive looks of the CX-3.

The Shinari, the first vehicle to feature the Kodo styling, has a long nose, short front and rear overhangs, large wheels and a tight cabin.


“By adapting the Shinari’s key styling, we were able to inject a sporty feel and appearance into the crossover,” he said.

In addition to the energetic exterior, Matsuda said the interior of the CX-3 had to have a similar level of vigor to maintain an overall premium feel and sophisticated packaging.

He said a multi-colour interior with soft-touch materials, quality stitching and metallic inserts were used to heighthen the CX-3’s interior appeal.