By on October 10, 2017

Mazda 3 Next Generation PRoduct Concept - Image: MazdaThe 2019 Mazda 3 will be previewed by a concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show on October 24th. Realistic enough to represent an accurate vision of what the fourth-generation Mazda 3 will look like, but not so faithful to a production model that’s entirely realistic, the concept will potentially be more noteworthy due to the Skyactiv-X engine under the hood.

Skyactiv-X, long rumored, was announced more formally in August. A supercharged four-cylinder with sparkless compression ignition should result in substantially more torque and reductions in fuel consumption of more than 20 percent. That could make the next Mazda 3 a 43-mpg car on the EPA combined scale.

As far as the design, Mazda isn’t promising a revolution with the aptly titled Next-Generation Product Concept. In fact, what little Mazda is saying on the subject is tied largely to the high-tech powertrain.

Mazda Next Generation Product Concept rear - Image: MazdaIt is, after all, difficult to imagine the current-generation of the Mazda 3 is struggling in the U.S. marketplace because of its exterior design. Like it or not, it’s surely not as divisive as the design of, say, the Honda Civic, currently America’s best-selling car. Cars that stir up great loathing in the minds of TTAC’s commentariat aren’t immune to popularity, as the general public doesn’t necessarily buy cars based purely on exterior styling. Otherwise we’d all be driving Jaguar XK-E coupes and Lancia Fulvias.

But could the Mazda 3, seemingly overnight, become a compact car that offers far superior power and fuel economy? With an attractive body? And “human-centered design philosophy for optimal functionality,” whatever that is? And if all of that did quickly become true, could the Mazda 3’s steady decline on America’s passenger car sales charts be quickly turned around?Mazda Tokyo Next Generation Design Vision Concept - Image: MazdaThrough the first three-quarters of 2017, the Mazda 3 has reported a 19-percent year-over-year U.S. sales decline in a compact category that’s down just 4 percent. That places the Mazda tenth in the category with fewer than 6,700 monthly sales. The 3’s share of the compact market now stands at 3.9 percent, a far cry from the 6.1 percent slice of the pie the Mazda 3 enjoyed in 2012. Sales of the Mazda 3 have fallen 37 percent since 2012. 3 sales are on track this year to fall to a 13-year low.

On a more design-led front, the Next-Generation Product Concept that previews the next Mazda 3 will be accompanied in Tokyo by the “Next-Generation Design Vision.” Mazda claims that car will result “in a more profound expression of the globally-acclaimed KODO design language Mazda debuted on the Mazda CX-5 in 2012.”

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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29 Comments on “This Is the Next Mazda 3… ‘s Silhouette...”

  • avatar

    In the US, with 2 buck gas, the mileage is not much of a buying factor vs competition. Fix the corrosion and the road noise and they have a winner.

  • avatar

    Of course the Mazda 3 will look good. Their designs just keep getting better. The current Skyactive motors are nice, and it would be incredible if they could pull off compression ignition gasoline. But it seems like people would rather buy Honda Civic batmobiles. Maybe there needs to be a Mazdaspeed 3 flagship. Yes, that is the problem. Compression ignition gasoline turbo wagon, please.

  • avatar

    Ask the posters on this board what is hurting the 3, and they’ll say “small back seat,” or “noise.” I disagree. The 3’s main issue is that it isn’t quick enough. The engine doesn’t cash in on the chassis’ capabilities. If this was the quickest AND best-handling compact on the market, then the noise and small back seat would be annoyances, and nothing more.

    Therefore: good on Mazda for doubling down on performance. And if you think style doesn’t sell, check what the 2016 Civic redesign did for that model.

    • 0 avatar

      The small back seat is what kept me having putting one in my garage. Period. I loved everything else about it but just couldn’t do it to the kids.

      More speed is like bacon, it’s always welcome. But please Mazda, just stretch the damn things out and I swear I will buy one of your products.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Looks like the small back seat thing will continue, if these images give any clue.

        At 6’6″, I feel your pain, tallguy130. I can’t even consider half the cars on the market due to my height, and the people I take with me.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Eff all that jinbai attai nonsense. The 2.0 cars are slow, especially driven back to back with something like a Golf TSI, which gets the same exact gas mileage. This new engine moves it from the slow to adequate column. Still not enough to go up against the GTI. Hopefully they bring the MS3 back with a 2.5L version.

      • 0 avatar

        I was checking out ALD on Youtube and the Mazda guy last weeks said no more Mazdaspeed. The new engine should place it near the top for acceleration however my concern is the transmission. They have been using the same 6 speed for several years now and they use it for everything. In order for the new X engine to really shine they need to incorporate a 8-10 speed auto.
        I feel like even with the current engines if they had a new 8 or 9 speed it would help. however I know they are a small company that has limited resources.

      • 0 avatar

        @sporty –

        I’d disagree. The 3 with the 2.0 isn’t slow – in fact, its’ performance envelope is pretty similar to an automatic Golf’s (I recall it’s something like a half-second slower to 60, which isn’t all that much).

        The difference is in how the power and performance are delivered. The 3’s engine is optimized for high-rpm power, so if you want to go fast, you have to wind the hell out of it. That’s fun on a back road, but it gets old in everyday driving situations. This is especially true with the automatic.

        The Golf may not actually be a lot faster, but all that torque makes it feel that way in everyday traffic. It also makes for a more relaxed and refined drive.

        The Golf does a better job of delivering power where most drivers want it.

      • 0 avatar

        Sporty has to pick the one car with a better engine. The Civic and Corolla sell thousands of cars with <160hp. That isn't holding them back.

        I personally prefer a more squared off back like the Golf or second gen Mazda 3. They also need more legroom. I assume they will, like with the CX5 and 9, have an even higher quality interior and class competitive/leading NVH.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, but will add “weird interior design” and “options packaging.” Granted I haven’t looked seriously at 3 since the 2015s first rolled out. I bought a 2014 Elantra GT over a 2015 Mazda3. The Elantra’s back seat may have been marginally roomier, but I couldn’t say for sure. The Mazda may have been marginally noisier but I didn’t notice in my test driving. My Elantra 2.0 has about 20hp more than the Mazda3 2.0 and still averages better than 32mpg. The Elantra came standard with satellite radio without a glare-inducing blinding wart sprouting from the dashboard, while costing less at initial purchase.

      What I would really appreciate cars in this class doing with the back seats, is additional width. The front seats could use it too. The legroom in the class is perfectly fine (except you Focus, you’re a f-ing joke), but the shoulder room needs serious help. A few years back there was a Ford or Lincoln c-class hatch concept that was setup wide for 3+3 seating. MAKE IT, heck keep the front console, but make it wide and give it shoulder room, and a family of 5 can actually live with a C-class car for a change. If my wife ever joins us in my Elantra the whining from the kids is intolerable; we have to take my truck or the Odyssey for any trip beyond 15 minutes with all 5 of us.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 5’7″ and I found the back seat headroom of the 3 confining. Also I would have like some bigger wheel options and yes I’d have liked more pickup from the pedal. All of which I was able to find in the VW GTI I ended up with.

  • avatar

    I see a little silhouette of a car.

  • avatar

    “It is, after all, difficult to imagine the current-generation of the Mazda 3 is struggling in the U.S. marketplace because of its exterior design”

    Insuring Mazda is also higher than Toyonda

  • avatar

    Things to look forward to is purchased.
    1. Beta testing an engine for Mazda
    2. Less sound deadening
    3. Still getting $4000 off sticker 6 months after the launch of this new model

    • 0 avatar

      There new models have more sound deafening and are regarded as amongst the quitest in their classes (CX5 and 9). As for money of maybe you are thinking if VW!

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, VW has some cash on the hood. New Jetta can be had for $14,000 new. Last year at this time the Jetta was $12,900 new.

        But as for Mazda, yes they also have cash on the hood. At least in Florida and Utah. As of last month I read $4500 off cx5 and $6000 off cartoon looking cx9.

  • avatar

    Save this photo for for future reuse. That’s the silhouette of every modern car.

  • avatar

    I’m really beginning to wonder about this place. If Cain is an expert, I’m an iguana lizard.

    How many times does this place have to be told that the new SkyActiv-X engine DOES USE spark plugs?

    I mean, come on. Read Car and Driver’s description of the engine, and their drive of a prototype. Been out for over a month online. But no, nobody here can get that news through their thick heads.


    The truth about cars written by people without much of a clue.

    Next we’ll have Cain telling us the new Audi A8 reminds him of the Dodge Dart.

  • avatar

    My experience has been that Mazda dealerships have been sub-par and few and far between. Mazda, from what I have read, plans to make an effort to improve their dealerships.
    Unless a consumer follows car reviews, such as TTAC, Car and Driver, Motorweek, Consumer Reports, and others, they are usually not exposed to Mazda’s virtues and go with other more prominent brands they see locally.
    I think Mazda has made tremendous strides in building quality attractive vehicles since their split from Ford, but can’t get the presentation to consumers right. Subaru has figured out how to create brand identity with a strong image of what a Subaru owner is. Mazda tried Zoom Zoom but dropped that. I am rooting for Mazda as their vehicles and innovation deserve a healthier more active spot in the market place.

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