Mazda 3 (February)
After losing its sales crown to the Corolla in 2013, Mazda is looking to regain the title of Australia’s most popular car with the all-new third-generation Mazda 3. Launching in February, the new small car will again be available in sedan and hatchback body styles. The new model becomes the third car in the Japanese manufacturer’s line-up designed under its ‘Skyactiv’ philosophy, employing lightweight and efficient engines, transmissions, chassis and body components, and aerodynamic design features. The new 3 will be available with two four-cylinder petrol engines: a slightly tweaked version of the 2.0-litre unit from the SP20, tuned to produce 114kW and 200Nm; and a 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre shared with the CX-5 and Mazda 6 for the SP25 variants. The slow-selling diesel has been dropped from the new range, while Mazda Australia has little interest in the hybrid offered in Japan. The third 3 takes a technological leap forward with the introduction of advanced safety features like auto city braking and blind spot monitoring, and a head-up display and an internet-linked infotainment system with clever smartphone integration and app functionality. Cabin quality also reaches a level bettered only by the benchmark Golf. Pricing should continue to start slightly above $20,000.
Read CarAdvice's Mazda 3 Review.
The all-new Mazda 2 city car is set to debut at the Geneva motor show in March, before launching locally in the first half of 2015. Embracing the Japanese brand’s Kodo design language, the next-generation 2 will also benefit from Mazda’s Skyactiv philosophy, incorporating new, fuel-efficient engines and transmissions, lightweight construction components, and aerodynamic design. An all-new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing approximately 75kW/150Nm has been earmarked for the new 2. It will pair with either a six-speed manual or a new automatic continuously variable transmission. The all-new Mazda 2 will retain its circa-$15K starting price, remaining competitive with the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris.
The next-generation Mazda MX-5 will be revealed in the latter half of 2014 in time for a 2015 launch. The rear-wheel-drive convertible icon is being co-developed with Alfa Romeo and is on track to weigh less than 1000kg – representing a saving of at least 170kg over the current model. Despite its joint development, the new Mazda MX-5 will be built on a Mazda-designed Skyactiv chassis and platform assembled at the firm’s Hiroshima plant in Japan and will feature Mazda’s own powertrains. The fourth-generation MX-5 is expected to be offered with either a 1.5- or 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder engine, mated to six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Mazda historically prefers the “purer” linear acceleration of normally aspirated engines, though it is believed to be developing a turbo petrol Skyactiv engine for the near future.