AUSTRALIA'S most popular car will have a new sculpted athletic look with an up-market interior next year.
The wraps officially came of the new Mazda3 today. The dynamic small car will be in North American showrooms later this year, before reaching our shores by February.
We were the first in the world to see the Japanese carmaker's all-important hatch, unveiled in Melbourne ahead of New York, London, St Petersburg and Istanbul.
Prices and specifications are yet to be revealed, but the new Mazda3 will feature a choice of two four-cylinder petrol engines - a 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre featuring the marque's Skyactive technology which includes weight reduction and greater fuel efficiency.
Courtesy of those improvements, expect the 2.0-litre version to achieve better than six litres for every 100km.
Extra interior space comes via a wheelbase which is 60mm longer and 40mm wider, while it sits 15mm lower than its predecessor.
Hefty ground has also been made in cabin ambiance.
A new carbon-fibre look material, along with high sheen satin chrome finishes are the highlights inside a more chic interior.
On show this week was a range-topping derivative, with beautifully soft two-tone leather seats and a slick pop-up 17cm colour screen.
Refined leather stitched coverings also adorned the steering wheel and hand brake.
The Mazda3 was Australia's biggest selling car in 2012 and 2011, but has recently been shaded in the sales race by the Toyota Corolla.
New Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders is confident his company can maintain sales success with this new model.
"Rarely does a manufacturer get to replace Australia's most popular car with such an impressive new model, we are in the unique position to be able to do this with Mazda3," he said.
"Mazda3 has been the top selling car in Australia for the past two years, its sales are holding up strongly in 2013 and we are confident that the All-New Mazda3, with its refined styling and sporty and dynamic looks, could again be a favourite amongst Australia's new car buyers when it becomes available next year."
He would not detail pricing on the run-out model, but said Mazda would meet the market to maintain sales momentum.