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Mazda CX-3

The steady but slow pace of change at Mazda is shifting into high gear with the world debut of three key new models in 2014 – and the promise of more to come in 2015.

The latest and newest Mazda will be shown at next month's Los Angeles Auto Show where the CX-3 small crossover will be unveiled. It follows the recent global debut in Japan of the fourth-generation Mazda2/Demio hatchback and the summertime global unveiling of the next-generation Mazda MX-5/Miata.

The Mazda2/Demio goes on sale in Japan this December, with a made-in-Mexico version coming to North American showrooms next year. The Mazda2 competes against the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, to name three. The next Mazda2 will provide the mechanical basis for a new Toyota small car, which means the next Yaris will be Mazda2-based.

All the new Mazdas will get the latest SkyActiv drive train and chassis technologies. The Mazda2/Demio and the CX-3 will be the fourth and fifth Mazdas to get the SkyActiv treatment of high-compression, direct-injection engines, advanced transmissions and lightweight materials, including the chassis design and components.

The Mazda2 competes in the relatively small subcompact segment. However, the CX-3 making its world premiere in Los Angeles is more important, given sales of small SUVs in Canada are up about 20 per cent this year. Small SUVs are the second-largest segment in Canada. Canadians buy more compact cars, but not by much. And compact car sales are essentially flat, up just 1.1 per cent this year, reports DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Mazda, then, plans to have three SUVs in its lineup, two on the smaller side – the current CX-5 and the coming CX-3. The three-row CX-9 rounds out Mazda's SUV array.

Naturally, the CX-3 will use Mazda's Kodo design language. Kodo stands for "soul of motion." The engine offerings will include 1.5- and 2.0-litre SkyActiv gasoline engines.

Mazda is accelerating the remake of its lineup and says its "sixth-generation" product offensive is being defined by the initial deployment of its SkyActiv technology and design solutions, including Kodo.

Once this remake is complete, Mazda will begin deploying its seventh-generation new model and technology push. Look for that around 2018.

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