Next-Gen 2014 Mazda 3 Rendered, Detailed
Family face, family upgrades.
What It Is: The next generation of the compact Mazda 3. Shown here in hatchback form, the future 3 will be styled to resemble the new Mazda 6 and face-lifted CX-9, with aggressive headlights and a prominent black grille. The Cheshire-cat grin from the front fascia of the current car finally will be exorcised. Featuring Mazda’s latest Kodo design language, the sculpted sheetmetal will help with aerodynamics and sex appeal, but don’t expect anything too over the top: This is Mazda’s bread-and-butter model, and the company can’t risk polarizing buyers. We’re a little nervous that the new 3’s cabin may be less scintillating than its wrapper, as the CX-5’s—the most-recent new Mazda model we’ve evaluated—is somewhat bland albeit well-constructed. We have no anxiety, however, in confirming that the next 3 will join the new 6 in shedding hundreds of pounds of weight.
Why It Matters: It’s Mazda’s bestselling model, and will be launched at a time when automakers are depending on compact cars as fuel-efficiency billboards for their entire lineups. The 3 is Mazda’s highest-volume connection to the company’s halo model, the MX-5 Miata, and has been the go-to car for enthusiasts shopping in the compact segment.
Did we mention that Mazda’s future profitability in the U.S. also depends on the success of the next 3? The entire Mazda lineup is now imported from Japan, a country with a currency strong enough to kill profit margins on many U.S. sales. The next 3 will be built at a new factory in Mexico, allowing Mazda to turn a bigger profit on each sale and, if necessary, subsidize its other, Japan-sourced models.
Platform: The 3 will share the CX-5’s new lightweight architecture. Mazda is committed to retaining the current car’s fun-to-drive character.
Powertrains: Familiar and unfamiliar engines will grace the 3’s bay. The new 155-hp, 2.0-liter Skyactiv four, recently introduced as an end-of-line upgrade to the current 3, will carry over. It’s a flexible engine, and the lighter next-gen 3 could improve on the current car’s 40-mpg EPA highway rating. A diesel also is under consideration for the next 3, as Mazda is planning to offer one in the CX-5. It should go without saying that Mazda, the company that offers a manual transmission even in its minivan, will have a three-pedal option in the 3.A Mazdaspeed 3 may return. On the upside, hot hatches equal marketplace buzz. On the downside, the current Mazdaspeed 3 is a torque-steering monster and an unimpressive seller