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The 2.0-litre common-rail turbo diesel produces 105kW and 360Nm and has a claimed fuel consumption of 6L/100km.
It will only be available in the one Maxx Sport trim level and will feature a rear spoiler, 16-inch wheels and, unlike the petrol models, Direct Stability Control will be a standard feature.
Mazda spokesman Alistair Doak says the company expects to sell more than 100 Mazda3 diesels a month, but says it will be a reasonably small percentage of overall Mazda3 sales. Mazda sold 2758 Mazda3s last month, the second-most popular small car, behind the Toyota Corolla.
When the Mazda6 diesel went on sale, Mazda originally forecast 50 sales a month, but Doak says it has been closer to 100 models a month.
He says there are no plans to expand the diesel range further in Australia.
“They will be our two diesel passenger cars, the ones that sell the most in Europe,” he says. None of our Japanese competitors have any diesel and we're introducing a second.”
Doak says there are no plans for diesel engines in the larger CX-7 and yet-to-arrive CX-9 because these cars are primarily for the North American market, where diesel isn't in demand.
The Mazda3 diesel will be followed by the new generation of the Mazda2. The smaller Mazda will go on sale in October and is expected remain at about $16,000 for the entry model.
Doak says buyers can expect the new Mazda2 to be comparable in price to the current car, which starts at $16,335 for the Neo and rises to $20,290 for the top-line Genki model. But unlike some of its rivals, which offer 1.3-litre entry models, Doak says the Mazda2 would be available only with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine.
“I don't think there is a lot of benefit going to a 1.3. Certainly there isn't that much difference on cost,” he says.
Doak says the Mazda2 is a vital part of the overall line-up, with the light car running in third sales spot behind Mazda3 and Mazda6.
The current car has been on sale since December 2002. So far this year Mazda has sold 3045, up 30 per cent on last year's figures.
The car's styling brings it into line with the rest of the Mazda line-up, he says.
“Mazda has always established a reputation as being a style leader and the Mazda2 should do so in the light-car segment,” Doak says.
Mazda is also expected to carry over the existing three model names; Neo, Maxx and Genki.
Safety has been at the forefront of the car's appeal, with the option of curtain and side airbags and ABS in the current model. The newcomer is expected to add dynamic stability control to the safety kit. It sheds about 100kg in weight over its predecessor.
Using high-tensile steel, Mazda says it has been able to slice out weight without compromising safety, body rigidity and noise, vibration and harshness. This has benefits for fuel economy, with Mazda saying it has improved up to 15 per cent over the current car. The 60/40 split rear-fold seat carries over, but luggage space is down from 280 to 250 litres.
The 1.5-litre develops 76kW at 6000 revs and 136Nm at 4000 revs, down from 82kW at 6000 revs and 141Nm at 4000 revs.