The biggest change to the hatchback for 2012 is the introduction of Mazda’s much-vaunted ‘Skyactiv’ technology.
The grand name has been introduced to describe a series of updates to build materials, transmissions and engines to make Mazda cars more efficient and cheaper to run.
While the technology will appear in its entirety in the new Mazda CX-5 compact SUV, the engines and gearboxes have been introduced to the Mazda3 in its latest update.
The headline figure is the improvement in fuel economy – up from 30mpg to 40mpg – from the Skyactiv-G petrol engine matched to a Skyactiv automatic gearbox.
Elsewhere, the car receives some subtle updates to the exterior. This includes a new front bumper to increase aerodynamic performance and a smaller ‘grinning’ grille.
Updates to the rear bumper and a new ‘twist-spoke’ alloy wheel are both new to the Mazda3 for 2012.
The updates to the exterior have a practical use as well. The aerodynamic improvements, says Mazda, will help to improve the handling of the car and make the Mazda3 more responsive and fun to drive.
Inside, there are updates to the upholstery and new white graphics for the instrument panel and displays. Mazda also says the cabin will be quieter and more refined in the new model.
Mazda recently announced it was not planning electric or hybrid cars in the near future and will instead focus on making petrol and diesel engines as efficient as possible.
This started with the introduction of Skyactiv technology into the Mazda2 supermini and the design and build of the all-new Mazda CX-5.
The Mazda3 will be the third Mazda car to make use of the technology when it arrives in the UK before the end of the year, with prices set to be announce for the small family hatchback.