All Skyactiv-X models feature a 7in digital instrument display and Mazda’s new 8.8in infotainment central display, but 18 in alloy wheels, black badges and a wider exhaust tailpipe are added beyond Sport trim.
The firm says the new engine combines the performance of a petrol engine with the fuel economy of a diesel.
The unit has been confirmed to deliver 178bhp and 165lb ft of torque, while producing a fuel economy of up to 52.3mpg on the WLTP cycle, with CO2 emissions from 96g/km. The economy and CO2 figures depend on model, wheel size and choice of gearbox.
The powertrain will also include Mazda’s M Hybrid system, a 24V mild-hybrid unit that can regain energy under braking.
The new Skyactiv-X engine is the most marked feature of the new 3, given that it has the potential to breathe new life into petrol power amid stricter emissions and efficiency targets. It also promises “superior initial response, powerful torque, faithful linear response and free-revving performance”, says Mazda.
Powertrain boss Ichiro Hirose confirmed to Autocar that the powertrain is scalable for petrol engines with more or less displacement.
The Skyactiv-X unit is the third to become available on the 3: the car was initially launched with a 120bhp 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol featuring a 24V mild-hybrid system (starting from £20,595) and a 114bhp 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D diesel (starting at £22,395).
The new Mazda 3 introduces the firm’s new Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture, an umbrella term for a number of new structures including seats that maintain the natural curve of the spine and a ring-structure bodyshell that increases rigidity, reduces transmission lag and improves noise, vibration and harshness levels.
All of these features form part of Mazda Premium, a goal by the firm to position itself more in line with traditional premium car brands.