If we were looking for a small sedan in 2004/2005, the first generation Mazda3 hatchback would have been our choice. It was one of the best in the segment inside and out, and it offered a sporty driving character. It undoubtedly carved a reputation as the enthusiasts choice, a significant development given that Mazda has always been the also ran.
The Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan got the attention, but the 3 helped change that up. Fast forward to today and the competition has eclipsed the 3. It isn’t regarded the way it once was. The same thing happened with the previous generation 6. For 2014 Mazda has come back with a vengeance, course correcting with a stylish and competitive redesign to the Mazda6.
For one, the car has gotten rid of the cartoonish look, following the all-new CX-5 crossover in debuting a new “Kodo” styling language. The change is much welcomed, and makes the 6 the best-looking mid-sizer along with the Ford Fusion. Car and Driver reports that the 3 is in for the same treatment. It commissioned a rendering of the design that we think is a big step forward and probably a good preview of what is to come. If the 6 is any indication, the new compact is going to be a looker.
Enough about styling though – there is even more good news when it comes to specifications. Mazda has been on a push for fuel efficiency with Skyactiv, and that will include a reduction in weight for the next-generation car. And not just 50 pounds either – C&D says the new platform could reduce curb weight by hundreds of pounds. Lighter, more agile, better performing and more efficient – we like the sounds of that. The current 3 received an end-of-life update recently that included Mazda’s new 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder. The high-compression four makes 155 horsepower and it will carry over to the new model. The engine helped boost mileage of the current 3 up to 40 on the highway. The more svelte next-generation 3 should see that number rise even further. Overall, it looks like Mazda is taking the right steps to get it back into its place as an enthusiasts favorite.