Mazda released a major update to its Mazda3 hatchback model in 2012, giving it a new engine based on its Skyactiv efficiency technology. But as we found out today, that model was a mere teaser for the entirely rebuilt model shown off in New York today.
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The redesigned and rebuilt model uses Mazda's Skyactiv principles to shed weight, helping increase fuel economy. Mazda says it used higher-tensile steel and evaluated over 300 components in the car to reduce weight, although no specifications were given as to the new curb weight.
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With the 2012 model, Mazda showed off its new Skyactiv 2-liter engine, using direct injection to achieve 155 horsepower. This new 2014 model will give buyers a choice of that 2-liter engine, or a new 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine making 184 horsepower. Although Mazda offers diesel engines in other markets, that option will not be offered in the U.S.
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Standard on the Mazda3 will be 16-inch painted steel wheels. Buyers can opt for 16-inch or 18-inch alloy wheels.
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The styling of the Mazda3 sees a big change, with cues reflecting the Mazda2 and the new Mazda6. Mazda pushed back the A pillars, giving the nose a longer look, and raked the rear hatch at more of an angle than on the previous model.
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Along with the styling changes, Mazda reduced the length of the Mazda3 by almost 2 inches, while extending the wheelbase, which should aid handling and ride comfort. Height was also reduced, although the car model was widened.
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True to its 10-year history, the Mazda3 remains a hatchback. Mazda won't offer a sedan version, which may hurt sales in the U.S., where buyers prefer trunks.
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Mazda says the interior headroom loses 0.6 inch, although hip room is widened by 1.6 inches. Transmission options will be a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, the latter using a better lock-up range for tighter, more-efficient gear changes.
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Mazda will offer a number of driver assistance technologies, such as laser-based low-speed automatic braking, a blind-spot monitor, and radar-based adaptive cruise control.
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The Mazda3 comes with a whole new cabin electronics system, with SD card-based navigation, stereo, and phone information shown on this fixed center LCD. The car will integrate Harman-Kardon's Aha Internet radio system, which runs on the driver's smartphone.
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This console-mounted controller lets the driver manipulate and select cabin electronics features shown on the main LCD.
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A clear panel, placed in front of the driver and sticking up from the dashboard, serves as a head-up display. It will show speed and other useful driving data.