2012 Mazda3 sedan, front 3/4 view

According to Car and Driver, the next-generation Mazda3 is set to undergo an extensive overhaul, similar to what the Japanese automaker has done with its larger Mazda6 sedan.

On the powertrain front, expect the still-new 155-horsepower 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder to carry over. But since the next Mazda3 will likely shed hundreds of pounds thanks to the company's lighter Skyactiv-tuned platform (a good chunk of which will be shared with the CX-5), the 2.0-liter engine should return improved fuel economy and performance since there won't be so much heft to cart around. Currently, the 2.0-liter Mazda3 returns up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

C/D also states that a diesel-powered version of the compact Mazda3 is under consideration, as is a new version of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed3.

Visually, expect the new Mazda3 to receive the full brunt of the automaker's new Kodo styling language. That isn't a bad thing, though – both the new CX-5 and Mazda6 are handsome vehicles, and we think the aggressive headlamps and upright grille will translate nicely to the smaller package. C/D has worked up a rendering of what the Mazda3 could look like in hatchback form with the new styling direction, so head over there to check it out.