Mazda 3 Fastback (c) Mazda

Mazda 3 Fastback model to join line-up

A Mazda 3 Fastback variant of the Japanese firm’s mid-size family hatchback will join the range alongside the regular car when the vehicle launches later this year.

The new vehicle offers that bit more practicality than the already amazingly flexible Mazda 3 – it’s 12cm longer than the conventional hatchback and boasts 419 litres of boot space. That’s 69 litres more than the normal car.

As you’d expect, the extra metal in the body hasn’t impacted on the new Mazda 3’s stunning styling following the third entry in the firm’s series of Skyactiv models.

The sleek tailgate morphs into a sharp, taut, cut-off rump that balances out the front end’s proportions beautifully.

Mazda 3 Fastback (c) Mazda

It should also be as agile as its conventional Mazda 3 cousin as the Fastback shares that car’s 2.7-metre wheelbase – that means great handling but superb ride comfort, too.

As part of the Skyactiv approach to vehicle construction, safety is key, with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels used in the chassis of all Mazdas. And in the new Mazda 3 Fastback, protection levels are higher than ever for both passengers and pedestrians.

That’s because the new shape has allowed Mazda to create more space for the engine, improving crash safety. The firm’s first two Skyactiv vehicles – the Mazda CX5 and the Mazda 6 – both received a full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, so don’t expect anything less from the new Mazda 3 range.

There’ll be clever features, such as Mazda’s City Brake Support and rear vehicle monitoring system as well.

Mazda 3 Fastback interior (c) Mazda

It’ll also be superbly efficient, thanks to lightweight construction (1,196kg for the Mazda 3 Fastback and 1,200kg for the regular Mazda 3 hatch) and a range of frugal petrol and diesel engines.

The line-up of power plants will be carried over from the regular car, meaning a 100hp 1.5-litre petrol engine will feature, returning 56.4mpg combined with just 118g/km CO2 emissions.

Alongside that, there’ll be larger, more powerful 120hp and 165hp versions of the firm’s 20-litre petrol engines, offering 55.3mpg with 119g/km CO2 emissions and 50.4mpg with 129gkm CO2 respectively.

The firm’s 150hp 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit will also feature in the new Mazda 3 Fastback, returning a massive 72.4mpg combined with 104g/km CO2.

Impressive fuel efficiency indeed, helped by standard fit Mazda i-stop stop-start across the range and the company’s i-ELOOP regenerative braking system on the most powerful petrol model.

Mazda 3 Fastback (c) Mazda

There’s no official word on prices as yet – expect confirmation of costs when the car debuts at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in September – but the Mazda 3 Fastback should only sport a modest price premium over the regular hatchback.

Expect the Mazda 3 Fastback range to be priced any where between £500 and £1,000 more than the equivalent hatchback option, with that range itself kicking off at around £16,000.

If you like the look of the Mazda 3, want a bit more practicality but don’t fancy stretching to the larger Mazda 6 saloon or estate, the Mazda 3 Fastback is the answer.