New Mazda3 showcased in New York

The Mazda3 is the first to use Mazda’s new lightweight and efficient technology in the shape of a SkyActiv 2.0-litre petrol engine which delivers 153bhp.

However, the headline figures come in terms of fuel economy – which Mazda says is 20 per cent higher than previous petrol engines in the range.

It is matched to a SkyActiv manual or automatic six-speed gearbox, first seen on latest versions of the smaller Mazda2 supermini.

Mazda aims to use the technology on its new cars, starting with the Mazda CX-5 crossover, which will be revealed later this year.

The SkyActiv name applies to frugal petrol and diesel engines, transmissions and even the lightweight chassis and materials used to build the CX-5, which will be the first model to be built completely using the SkyActiv technology.

However, the new Mazda3 will use the engine and transmission options later this year as Mazda rolls out the technology in its existing range.

As well as the new engine option, the updated Mazda3 features some subtle styling changes as a mid-life refresh of the hatchback car.

These include a new grille, tweaks to the front bumper and round fog lights. However, the changes are slight compared to the measures taken under the bonnet.

No details of prices or interior changes have been revealed by Mazda, which unveiled the new Mazda3 at the New York International Auto Show.

However, it is expected to go on sale in the UK later in 2011. It will be joined by the refreshed Mazda2 in 2011.

The Mazda CX-5, introduced as the Mazda Minagi concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, is expected to go on sale in the UK in 2012.