While manufacturers invest heavily in next-generation electric and hybrid technology – for example, the new Vauxhall Ampera will be launched in 2012 – Mazda has shunned alternative fuel in favour of ever-more efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Named Skyactiv technology, the new engines are being introduced alongside tweaks to chassis design, gearboxes and even building processes to reduce weight, improve fuel economy and ultimately, lower running costs for Mazda owners.
The technology will be introduced to the Mazda3 early in 2012 alongside an update to both the exterior and interior to give the car a more modern feel.
However, Mazda has confirmed the same focus on handling and driving dynamics used on the impressive Mazda MX-5 sports car and sporty Mazda2 supermini will remain.
It will also boast improved fuel efficiency of around 15 per cent for both the petrol and diesel Skyactiv models.
This, says Mazda, will bring it more in line with its key rivals such as the Focus by pushing fuel economy up to around 35mpg.
The new Skyactiv technology also helps to lower CO2 emissions in the best-performing diesel models to 115g/km – enough to qualify for free road tax in the first year.
This has become almost a requirement of small diesel hatchbacks in the UK and lets the Mazda3 compete once more with its rivals.
Along with a tweaked body shape, designed to improve looks as well as aerodynamics, new exterior colour options and interior trims will also be available with the new Mazda3 hatchback.
The Mazda3 will be the second Mazda car to feature Skyactiv technology after the Mazda2 supermini, but the new Mazda CX-5 compact SUV will be the first model to be built entirely using the Skyactiv philosophy when it arrives at the beginning of 2012.