The new Mazda 3 has been unveiled, which will feature the company’s fuel-efficient SkyActiv technology and ‘Kodo’ design language.  It’s currently set to go on sale in the autumn.

The new car is wider than the outgoing model, and its wheelbase has been stretched to allow for more space-efficient interior packaging.

The design now features the company’s familiar ‘wing’ grille and a lower, sleeker look to the body, while the feline-inspired headlights include a new LED signature.

A choice of nine colours includes Soul Red Metallic and the new Titanium Flash Mica and Deep Crystal Blue Mica, matched with 16- or 18-inch alloy wheels.

The interior sees the debut of the company’s new cabin philosophy, with a clear split between the cockpit and the more relaxed passenger environment, marked by the centre console.

A new heads-up display projects important information on to the windscreen, while a new rotary controller and voice command system, together with a 7-inch touchscreen, provide access to the car’s functions.

The new Mazda 3 also sees the debut of a new connectivity concept for Mazda.  Integrating Bluetooth connectivity, email, SMS and satellite navigation features, the system also provides access to Aha, a cloud-based service with more than 40,000 stations including radio, podcasts, audio books, and Facebook and Twitter audio feeds.  A range of Mazda’s own apps are also available, such as those to display eco-driving tips or servicing reminders.

The system links into a Bose 9-speaker sound system with Bose Centerpoint 2 surround sound technology, while the sat nav is supplied with three years of free map updates.

Cabin visibility has been improved, with the A-pillar moved backwards by 100mm compared to the previous model.

The seats offer a wider degree of adjustment and benefit from vibration-suppressing seat-backs, and are upholstered in a choice of black fabric or black leather either by itself or in combination with off-white leather with white, grey or red stitching.

The steering wheel now provides more downward travel and the boot is larger, with 350 litres of storage with the seats up.

Four engines are available, all with Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, stop/start and i-Eloop brake energy regeneration on some models.

The three petrol engines include a new 1.5-litre 100 PS petrol engine and two 2.0-litre engines in two different states of tune: 120 PS or 165 PS, both with 210 Nm of torque.

The diesel option comes in the shape of a 2.2-litre unit with the world’s lowest 14:1 compression ratio, a variable-geometry twin turbocharger, and a balancer shaft to help tame vibrations.  It develops 150 PS at 4,500 rpm and 380 Nm of torque at 1,800 rpm.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the option of a six-speed automatic on the 120 PS 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel models.

The diesel model is the fastest in the range, achieving its 0-62 mph dash in just 8.1 seconds and on to a 130 mph top speed.  Next is the 2.0-litre High Power model, with an 8.2 second acceleration time but identical top speed, the 2.0-litre Standard Power at 8.9 seconds and 121 mph, followed by the 1.5-litre model with a 10.8 second 0-62 mph time and a 113 mph top speed.

Fuel economy figures haven’t been released yet, but a host of aerodynamic efficiencies are likely to yield a respectable performance: a new active air shutter closes the lower front grille when the additional cooling isn’t required, while turbulence-suppressing spoilers and underbody covers and tyre deflectors help streamline the air flow underneath the vehicle.

The chassis sees many improvements that are said to manifest themselves in the driving experience, with lighter yet stiffer suspension components, reworked electric power assistance for the steering with a lower 14:1 ratio, and a retuned brake booster with reduced pedal free-travel.

As is de rigeur these days, a whole host of safety systems are  available, including: Forward Obstruction Warning which alerts the driver if the car is too close to the vehicle in front; Smart Brake Support pre-charges the brake system in conjunction with FOW and can apply the brakes automatically if a collision is imminent; Smart City Brake Support is an extension of SBS for slow-speed conditions; Mazda Radar Cruise Control maintains distance from the vehicle in front; Rear Vehicle Monitoring warns of vehicles in blind spots; Lane Departure Warning alerts of unintended lane changes; Distance Recognition Support System displays the proximity and catch-up time of vehicles in front; Emergency Stop Signal activates the hazard lights during heavy braking; High Beam Control automatically dips the headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.  In addition, driver aids such as adaptive front lighting and hill launch assist are also available.

The new Mazda 3 is due to go on sale throughout Europe in the autumn; there’s no word on UK pricing yet.