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by Tim Beissmann

The first images and details of the Mazda 3 Hybrid have been released ahead of the fuel-efficient small car’s Japanese launch next month.

Specifics of the Mazda 3 Hybrid’s petrol-electric powertrain – which has been developed in collaboration with Toyota – are limited at this stage, though the car maker has confirmed it will be powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder SkyActiv engine developed exclusively for the hybrid powertrain and supported by an electric motor.

Mazda promises fuel economy of 30.8 kilometres per litre under the Japanese JC08 test cycle, which directly translates to consumption of 3.2 litres per 100km, though its rating will be slightly higher measured according to Australia’s combined cycle standards, probably closer to 4.0L/100km.

The Mazda 3 Hybrid is equipped with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), though misses out on the ‘i-Stop’ and ‘i-Eloop’ stop-start and regenerative braking systems of the conventional non-hybrid models.

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Badged Axela in Japan, the Mazda 3 Hybrid is available exclusively as a four-door sedan and comes with a price premium of around 13 per cent over the equivalent 2.0-litre petrol-powered model: 2,499,000 yen versus 2,205,000 yen ($26,800 versus $23,600).

The images suggest the Mazda 3 Hybrid will have a smaller boot than the standard Mazda 3 sedan as a result of the battery and additional hybrid system components positioned over the rear axle.

It will also get a unique gearlever and a modified instrument cluster with hybrid-specific displays.

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Mazda is launching the third-generation Mazda 3 in Australia in January but has announced no plans to introduce the hybrid version at this stage.

The Mazda 3 Hybrid will reach Japanese showrooms on November 21.




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