LA LIVE: 2020 Mazda3

AWD and SkyActiv-X tech highlight the changes under the sheet metal.

Mazda unveiled the all-new Mazda3 ahead of its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. Redesigned from the ground up, the Mazda3 stands out with a head-turning design, available all-wheel drive, and the first application of Mazda's SkyActiv-X technology.

From a design standpoint, the 3 borrows styling cues from the Kai concept introduced last year. The sedan looks like what we expected it to, but designers took the hatchback in a bolder direction by giving it a roof line with an unusually steep slope. It helps makes the 3 one of the more design-led models in its segment; in comparison, rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and the Subaru Impreza look much more utilitarian.

The 3's interior adopts a familiar design but it's more elegant than before. There's an 8.8-inch screen on top of the dashboard for the infotainment system. It's controlled via a controller dial located right behind the gear selector on the center console. 

The press release sent out by the Japanese firm is long on vision but short on anything else. Motor Authority learned the engine line-up will include 1.5-, 2.0-, and 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines in addition to a 1.8-liter turbodiesel engine. The highlight is undoubtedly the novel SkyActiv-X engine, which uniquely uses compression-ignition technology normally found in a diesel engine to burn gasoline. Horsepower, torque, and fuel economy figures will be released at a later date.

The 3 will come standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, while Mazda will offer all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission at an extra cost. That's right; the 3 is going all-wheel drive thanks to the brand-new platform it's built on.

An earlier report points to an available mild hybrid powertrain. Mazda made no mention of it, but we'll learn more in the weeks leading up to the 3's on-sale date. Driving aids include front cross traffic alert, a driver awareness monitor, and traffic jam assist with a steering assist function. 

The 2020 Mazda3 will go on sale in early 2019. Pricing and full technical specification will be announced in the coming months.

Live photos by Brian Williams.

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