Mazda had previously ruled out an oil-burning variant due to an apparent lack of demand, but the Japanese company has now confirmed the new diesel model - known as the Mazda 3 XD Astina - will make it to market after all.
The new model is powered by the same 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine that is used in the larger Mazda 6 sedan and wagon, and the Mazda CX-5 SUV. The Skyactiv-D engine has outputs of 129kW and 420Nm, well above rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf 110TDI (2.0-litre turbo diesel: 110kW/320Nm) and Hyundai i30 CRDi (1.6-litre turbo diesel: 94kW/260Nm). It will be available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
In its most frugal form, the Astina XD is slightly thirstier than some competitors, with fuel use rated at 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres depending on the transmission. By comparison, the VW's manual Golf diesel uses 4.7L, Hyundai's manual i30 diesel claims 4.5L, and the frugal Honda Civic DTi-S manual uses an average of 4.0L per 100km.
The Astina XD gains design differentiation over the petrol models with a red trim accompaniment on the chrome grille and Skyactiv-D badging. It will be sold as a five-door hatchback only.
That the car is to be marketed Astina indicates it will sit at the top of the range alongside the petrol-powered Astina variant (priced from $36,190), which is equipped with items such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a city braking system that works up to 30km/h.
Mazda has not yet announced pricing or specifications for the new model, but it is expected to be priced above $35,000.
Mazda Australia director of marketing Alastair Doak said the move will add even more choice to the already top-selling small car's line-up.
“Diesel is a core part of Mazda’s technology strategy and it’s great to add the Skyactiv-D engine to our best-selling Mazda 3 range. The Skyactiv-D has been well received in both Mazda 6 and CX-5 and it’ll offer something very special when it arrives in the lighter and smaller Mazda 3.”