Any guess what that might be?
The all-new Mazda3 sedan and hatchback have something no previous Mazda sedan or hatch ever had: optional all-wheel-drive. It's also a first for the 3 itself. We doubt there will be any complaints from supposed front-wheel-drive enthusiasts (if any even exist). There are many benefits to having AWD and Mazda is confident the fun-to-drive factor it's known for will be fully retained, if not improved.
Motor Trend has learned from Mazda North America CEO Masahiro Moro that AWD will be a core feature in every new model, save for one. Can you guess which one? "Yes, everything but the MX-5 (Miata)," Moro said. Probably Miata we'll keep rear-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive doesn't make sense." All-wheel-drive will instead be expanded to the next Mazda6 and be available for all crossovers because "it is much safer in all road conditions and is fun to drive."
And speaking of the Mazda6, Moro also confirmed plans to offer the popular mid-size sedan with a diesel engine, most likely the SkyActiv 2.2-liter oil burner found in the CX-5 crossover. What's the holdup? The emissions validation process. Just because it's the same engine, the process needs to be done all over again because it's a different vehicle and body style. Moro wouldn't discuss which other models aside from the 6 sedan and CX-5 will receive a diesel engine, only that US government approval for more diesels was granted only in November.
And for anyone else still wondering whether there'll be a new MazdaSpeed3, forget it once and for all. Moro kind of explained why: "Our products are maturing. For example, we have a turbo for CX-5, so we did not make a MazdaSpeed5." In other words, Mazda is officially out of the hot hatch fanboy business, at least for the foreseeable future.
The rotary engine technology will return as well, but only as a generator combined with a small gas tank for a future electrified model, but that information isn't really anything new. It's simply a confirmation it's happening from the guy in charge.