► New 2019 Mazda 3 is here
► Confirmed for LA auto show
► First spy and official pics
The new 2019 Mazda 3 range will make its world debut at the Los Angeles motor show later this month - but our spies have caught it testing alongside its rival benchmarks, the VW Golf and Audi A3. It's a tellingly Germanic target that Mazda is aiming for.
We know that the Japanese will repeat the hatchback and saloon bodystyles for its new 3 range and our man with the long lens got up and close to the new five-door when it was out and about on late prototype testing in Europe.
This convoy of rivals was an interesting autumnal spot.
Note also the outgoing Mazda 3 at the end of the line-up; engineers are benchmarking the old 3 against its replacement on all key measures.
The new model will be based on the latest SkyActiv Vehicle Architecture which is claimed to bring greater refinement, a lower seating position and some radical new engine technology.
The new 2019 Mazda 3: Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI) tech
The new 2.0-litre SkyActiv-X engine is an important debut for Mazda. It's claimed to achieve diesel-like economy figures thanks to Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI). This allows the engine to work in two ways: the spark plugs can operate like in any traditional petrol engine to burn fuel, or the engine can quietly switch over to diesel-style compression ignition (where pressure, rather than spark plugs causes the fuel to burn) to improve efficiency.
This clever new tech, combined with a conservative 187bhp and 170lb ft of torque, will mean the supercharged 2.0-litre engine will be as efficient as a diesel, but without the sooty emissions. Also available from launch will be two cheaper and smaller petrol and diesel engines, carried over from the outgoing model.
Read our tech explainer on SCCI here
Our new spy photos are in addition to this solitary teaser photograph (below), which was issued ahead of LA along with a few brief confirmation details.
This is a significant launch for Mazda: it heralds the start of a new generation of cars, the company claims. Expect to see a 'richer interpretation of Mazda's Kodo design philosophy,' aka a refreshed wardrobe. This teaser photographer depicts a shadowy Mazda 3 saloon (above left) and hatchback (above right).
From the shadowy teaser it's hard to make out too much, but we'd wager they're not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The current 3 (below) remains a slick-looking mid-sized hatchback.
Details are thin on the ground, but Mazda said this: 'Next generation SkyActiv Vehicle Architecture enables people to make the most of their natural sense of balance and the latest Skyactiv engines offer responsive control of vehicle speed in any driving situation. The arrival of all-new Mazda 3 marks the beginning of a whole new generation of Mazda cars.'
When can I see the new Mazda 3?
The LA auto show runs from 28 November 2018, and CAR magazine will be reporting live from Tinseltown. UK sales are expected in the first half of 2019.
We'll be updating this page in the coming weeks, as Mazda releases more details about the new 3 range.
Full LA auto show preview guide