Mazda details Japan-bound 3 hybrid

The hybrid 3 returns 73 mpg in a mixed Japanese cycle.

Mazda has detailed the new gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain that will debut under the hood of the 3 (called Axela in its home country) when it is it launched across Japan late next month.

The centerpiece of the hybrid drivetrain is a 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine that makes 99 horsepower and 104 lb-ft. of torque. Developed specifically for the 3 hybrid, the four-banger works in conjunction with a Toyota-designed Hybrid Synergy Drive system that sends about 140 horsepower to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Electricity is provided by a compact battery pack mounted under the trunk floor. Early estimates peg the 3 hybrid's gas mileage at 73 mpg in a mixed Japanese cycle, which is fairly different from the way the EPA rates cars.

Another Japan-specific feature is the availability of a full-time four-wheel drive system. Popular in Japan's mountainous regions, the four-wheel drive system can be ordered on either the 3 hatchback or the 3 sedan but it can only be matched with the 100-horsepower 1.5-liter SKYACTIV-G engine.

Mazda has not announced whether the hybrid drivetrain and the all-wheel drive setup will eventually make their way to the United States.

Read more!