Mazda is replacing its 3 family of hatchbacks and saloons and we'll see this US-market sedan at next month's Los Angeles motor show. It's a four-door for the notchback-obsessed Americans, but we'll see the five-door Euro-style Mazda 3 hatch a few weeks later at the 2008 Bologna motor show.
The new Mazda 3 is believed to be based on the engineering skeleton of a Ford Focus, so expect a front-wheel drive layout and a wide spread of diesel and petrol engines. However, Mazda is promising to repeat the Weight Watchers programme of the 2 supermini to pick out unnecessary heft – to the benefit of economy and performance.
The new Mazda 3: full details
Details remain scarce on the new 3. Only this clutch of artily styled photographs has been released so far, and no other specification has been announced.
They give a flavour of the latest Mazda design direction, although this isn't the sole work of styling chief Laurens van den Acker, as work on the 3 project had already started when he was appointed. We'll have to wait a while longer to see the fruits of his 'Nagare' inspiration – which will lead to cars designed with reference to natural waves, winds and flowing shapes.
Mazda 3: the business story
The 3 is a crucial car for Mazda, making up a third of its entire sales. Since launch in 2003, the company has flogged 1.8 million in more than 100 markets. But it remains a bit-part player in the UK, where it sells just 13,000 a year.
UK sales will start in spring 2009, with no more than two bodystyles expected: the saloon pictured and the five-door hatchback.
Come back to CAR Online for our live reports from the Los Angeles motor show on 19 November 2008