The Mazda3 is due for a redesign for the 2014 model year, and we now have an idea of what to expect for the next generation of Mazda’s bestselling model: a lighter, more efficient compact that will thankfully do without the current car's unfortunate grinning grille.
According to a Car and Driver report, the new Mazda3 will ride on the same lightweight platform as the CX-5. The entire car is being designed around Mazda’s SkyActiv technology philosophy, which stresses reducing weight and increasing rigidity to improve fuel economy, handling and performance. Expect the new car to be hundreds of pounds lighter than the current model.
The recently-introduced 2.0-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder will continue to do duty under the hood, but the weight savings will likely push highway fuel economy past the 40-mpg mark. Diesel fans will be glad to hear that the U.S. –spec Mazda3 could join the CX-5 in offering an oil-burning mill, although Mazda has yet to make a final decision on the matter. Thankfully, what's certain is that the automaker is striving to maintain the fine-handling nature of the current car.
Unsurprisingly, Mazda’s latest “KODO” design language will grace the exterior, with details similar to those of the new Mazda6 and CX-9. As mentioned, the overly-friendly grille will be ditched in favor of a sleeker unit. Inside, there should be a strong resemblance to the interiors of Mazda's latest offerings.
The Mazda3 will be a critical model for Mazda’s U.S. fortunes. At present, the company builds its entire U.S. lineup in Japan, leaving it extremely vulnerable to the profit-eroding strength of the yen. However, the next Mazda3 will be produced in a new factory in Mexico, resulting in higher profits that could prove vital should the company start to take losses on the built-in-Japan models.