New Mazda 3: lighter, cleaner, sharper

* 15kg lighter than predecessor * Saves up to 13g/km CO2 * Quieter ride, sharper handling...

New Mazda 3: lighter, cleaner, sharper

Mazda has revealed a new five-door hatchback at the Bologna Motor Show.

The new car is around 15 kilos lighter than its predecessor, with CO2 emissions cut by up to 13g/km.

Yet the new 3 is slightly bigger, more luxurious and more sophisticated than the outgoing car.

Technical add-ons include the option of blind-spot monitoring for the first time in any mid-sized family hatch, and swivelling bi-xenon front lamps.

Mazda also claims a smoother, quieter ride, reduced noise levels and sharper handling.

The car will go on sale next spring with reworked 104bhp 1.6-litre and 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol engines, a revised 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel and two versions of Mazda's new 2.2-litre diesel: one delivering 148bhp and the other 183bhp.

Mazda's 'Airflow management', which smooths and channels the passage of air around and through the car, along with the introduction of part-electric power steering has contributed towards the reduced fuel consumption and improved CO2 figures.

The biggest improvement is the 1.6 petrol emitting 149g/km instead of 162, while the 1.6 diesel's figure is down from 125g/km to 119 g/km.

The design
Mazda's design team has gone for a more aggressive exterior with a smarter, more expensive-looking interior.

The front third of the car echoes that of the four-door model introduced at Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. At the rear, the new 3 has heavier window pillars, a rooftop spoiler and a stronger bumper to show that green measures need not be at the expense of sporty styling.

Hatchback and saloon versions go on sale in the UK next spring, and prices aren't expected to rise over the current car's.