Mazda launched its all-new 2014 Mazda 3 compact hatchback today at coordinated events in New York, Melbourne, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, and London.
The new Mazda 3 lineup, which will include a four-door sedan version as well when it goes on sale this September, is the second model designed around the company's line of ultra-efficient SkyActiv four-cylinder engines.
Without using any form of hybrid-electric drivetrain, Mazda's high-compression engines--here in 2.0- and 2.5-liter capacities--use carefully tuned exhaust systems and other refinements to deliver remarkably efficient driving.
The size of the exhaust system has actually changed the proportions of the car, with the base of the windshield pillars moved back fully 4 inches to provide more space under the longer hood.
The proportions are similar to those of the 2013 Mazda CX-5 crossover, the first vehicle to be designed entirely around SkyActiv technology.
The two vehicles share some understructure, though no body panels or interior elements.
About a year ago, we drove a last-generation 2012 Mazda 3 sedan fitted with the SkyActiv 2.0-liter four and six-speed automatic transmission, newly optional for that year.
While it wasn't as heavily optimized as the one in the 2013 Mazda CX-5 crossover we also drove, the SkyActiv engine returned far better gas mileage than its EPA rating.
That model gave us 38.1 mpg over our usual test route, against its EPA combined rating of 33 mpg.
So we rather wonder whether the new 2014 Mazda 3 might earn a combined rating of 35 mpg, perhaps better.
It likely won't hit the 40 mpg offered by two new subcompacts next year, but it's a spacious compact car with a high level of equipment.
The company will release images of the four-door sedan, specifications, and trim levels within a few weeks, it said today at the New York launch event.
Meanwhile, we look forward with eager anticipation to learning more about one of the few cars that will likely combine very high fuel economy with the fun-to-drive "Zoom Zoom" character for which all Mazdas are known.
For a full summary of the new car and more information, read our full review of the 2014 Mazda 3 on The Car Connection.