Mazda has updated its C-segment Axela model line (known as the 3 in other markets) and domestic market sales start on 22 June at Mazda, Mazda Anfini and Mazda Autozam dealers throughout Japan.

A key change is the adoption of a a 2.3-litre direct injection spark ignition (DISI) turbocharged engine for the high performance model, the Mazdaspeed Axela (known as the Mazdaspeed 3 in North America and Mazda 3 MPS in other key regions, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand).

The new engine produces 194kw (264PS) and 380Nm of maximum torque and is coupled to a new six-speed manual transmission, a newly developed torque-sensing super limited slip differential (LSD), finely-tuned drive shaft stiffness and a torque control system that adjusts according to steering angle.

The base Mazdaspeed model is the Axela Sport grade with the 2.3-litre DISI turbo engine and the newly stiffened body and recalibrated suspension and brakes common to all models.

Other mechanical changes include: an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission (called Activematic) for 2.0- and 2.3-litre models; sequential valve timing (S-VT) that improves torque on 2.0-litre models and an electronically-controlled throttle across the range.

As well as updating the cars to make them more sporty, Mazda has improved fuel economy and interior quietness and added a '20F' grade four-wheel-drive model to the Japanese range.

All models have a redesigned front grille, fog lamp, front bumper, rear bumper and aluminium wheels and the Mazdaspeed versions get a new rear roof spoiler and side underspoiler.

Some versions have new light emitting diode (LED) rear combination lamps.
Interior changes include new trim material and improved fit and finish while some versions have a new instrument cluster with white gauges and indirect blue lighting.

New options include a Bose sound system that can play MP3 files with subwoofer and seven speakers, keyless entry & engine starter, and steering wheel-mounted gearshift controls.

The four- and five-door Axela models were launched in Japan in October 2003 and global production volume had reached over 920,000 units by the end of April 2006.

The lifetime average sales target for the Axela series in Japan is 2,000 units per month, including 200 Mazdaspeed versions.