ive years since the first generation Mazda3 came onto the market, we think it is about time for a replacement. Fortunately our thoughts matched the boffins over at Mazda HQ as our spies have caught a prototype for the second generation out testing.

Five years since the first generation Mazda3 came onto the market, we think it is about time for a replacement. Fortunately our thoughts matched the boffins over at Mazda HQ as our spies have caught a prototype for the second generation out testing.

Heavy camoflage hides much of the model, however the overall body profile cannot be hidden which appears to have a more beefy and aggressive stance with a touch of Japanese finesse. The front headlights sport an impressive pair of projector lights and appear the match the styling seen on recent production models such as the Mazda6 and Mazda2.

Expect the current 2.3-litre motor to be bored out to around 2.5 litre. That should give it a 20 to 30 bhp bump from the current 156 bhp rating. The 2.0-litre base motor probably won't see an increase in displacement, but a 10 to 15 bhp increase is probably a good bet. These will be mated to a new six-speed transmission system as opposed to the five-speed found in the current generation.

The Mazda3 had been set to hit US showrooms towards the end of 2009 as a 2010 model, but sources now claim this could be brought forward to the summer.

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Next Generation Mazda3 Spied