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 |  Jul 04 2012, 8:31 AM

In the past Mazda has hinted that it may drop the current base engine in the Mazda3 and instead offer the Skyactiv powertrain as standard. According to Mazda USA PR rep Beverly Braga that won’t happen for 2013, but the Japanese automaker has made the decision to offer the Skyactive 2.0-liter as the core powertrain on more trim levels.

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 |  Oct 17 2011, 9:45 AM

2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv 03.JPG

Mazda‘s new SkyActiv engine was never intended to be used in the current Mazda3 platform, but with the new 40-mpg motor already developed, product planners decided it didn’t make sense just to sit on the technology – especially in a hyper-competitive segment where cars like the Cruze, Focus and Elantra are all claiming the big 40-mpg rating.

As a result Mazda made the decision to offer the new engine alongside the two previous options (the 2.0L MZR and the more powerful 2.5L), with a mid-range price. With 155-hp and 148 lb-ft of torque it’s a 5 percent improvement in peak power and a 10 percent spike in torque (although low and mid-range torque rise as much as 15 percent), making the old MZR powerplant essentially obsolete – especially considering its best highway rating is just 33-mpg.

Mazda has now confirmed the old MZR engine will be dropped from the product lineup with the Mazda3′s next bodystyle change, although it could be sooner than that. “We’re evaluating dropping the MZR for 2013,” said Sandra Lemaitre, National Manager for Public Relations at Mazda Canada, speaking at the launch of the new Mazda3 in Los Angeles.

The reason it’s still around hints Lemaitre is twofold. First, it’s the pricepoint, with the MZR-equipped models selling for significantly less than the new SkyActiv engine. Second, Mazda’s ability to offer the SkyActive powertrain is currently limited by supply.

As for the new SkyActiv-D engine, Lemaitre was silent about which new model will get the diesel option in North America It won’t be for the 2012 model year she said, commenting instead that, “We are introducing diesel in next 15-18 months.”

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext04 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 4dr with SKYACTIV ext03 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 5dr with SKYACTIV ext02 (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 with SKYACTIV skeleton image (US).jpg2012 Mazda3 SKYACTIV instrument cluster.jpg