Mazda is counting on the new Mazda3 to give it a lift in Europe's key compact segment, where the predecessor model has dropped to 18th in the ranking after three consecutive years of declining sales.
The fourth-generation Mazda3 gets fuel-saving mild hybrid powertrains and upgraded safety features more commonly found in more premium models to help regain lost share by raising customers' perception of the car.
Mazda's M Hybrid system, a 5.8-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 24-volt battery, is available on the Mazda3's 2.0-liter, 122-hp Skyactive-G gasoline engine. The mild hybrid helps the car achieve fuel consumption as low at 6 liters per 100 kilometers and CO2 emissions as low as 136 grams per kilometer.
Mazda says the mild hybrid is barely detectable when driving.
In addition, by substituting engine torque for torque from the electric motor the system can reach the same acceleration as a traditional gasoline engine while using less fuel, according to the automaker.
Fuel use is cut by "up to the high single digits" percentage wise compared with a similar-sized engine without hybrid technology, said the head of Mazda's European technical center, Christian Schultze.
The engine also employs cylinder deactivation, which automatically switches between two- and four-cylinder operation depending on the driving conditions. The Mazda3 also gets a new 1.8-liter, 116-hp Skyactiv-D diesel, which replaces the previous-generation car's 1.5- and 2.2-liter engines. The new diesel has a NOx storage catalyst to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides so it does not need a urea tank. The diesel's fuel usage is as low as 4.8l/100km and CO2 output is as little as 130g/km.
Gasoline versions of the Mazda3, which includes those with the mild hybrid technology, are expected to account for 85 percent to 90 percent of European sales, with diesels taking the remaining 10 percent to 15 percent, Mazda said.
Later this year the Mazda3 will add the Skyactiv-X gasoline engine, which will also have the M-hybrid technology. The Mazda3 will be the first production car with the 181-hp powerplant, which will be extended across the automaker's range. The new engine offers an estimated 20 percent saving in fuel consumption versus the company's outgoing 2.0-liter gasoline engine, Schultze said.