Updated 2012 Mazda3 debut nears

The popular hatchback has been updated with new front and rear bumpers, a new front grille and a choice of 16- and 17" wheels for 2012, but the real changes come underneath the bonnet.

The Mazda3 will be the first Mazda car to make use of the Japanese manufacturer’s much-vaunted Skyactiv technology, a name given to the new, more efficient engines and gearbox technology revealed by Mazda in 2010.

For the Mazda3, this means a both a Skyactiv petrol and Skyactive diesel engine matched to both manual and automatic transmissions.

Not only will the new engines improve the driveability of the car, according to Mazda, the technology will improve fuel efficiency up to 30 per cent.

In real terms, this means fuel economy as high as 40mpg and class-leading CO2 emissions – with obvious advantages in terms of Vehicle Excise Duty in the UK.

Mazda also plans to update the interior specification of the Mazda3 to bring the model in line with some of its newer rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

The engines will appear in the new 2012 Mazda3 for the first time at Frankfurt, but Mazda also plans to use the technology in its Mazda2 supermini.

The engines and gearboxes, along with Skyactiv chassis and build materials, will be used to create a new car from the ground up for the first time in the new Mazda CX-5, a compact SUV designed to sit underneath the larger Mazda CX-7 in the range.

Both the updatedMazda3 and new Mazda CX-5 will be the stars on the company’s stand at the Frankfurt show at the beginning of September.