Just as the all-new Mazda3 is about to be launched in New Zealand, the Japanese car has earned the top Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (Ancap) safety rating.
The sedan and hatch versions were tested in Australia and received five stars, but New Zealand's Automobile Association said there was still room for improvement.
AA motoring services general manager Stella Stocks said the new Mazda3 will add to the growing number of affordable vehicles with exceptional safety ratings and acceptable pedestrian protection.
"We're always looking at manufacturers to continually improve on their work and Mazda have done this with the latest Mazda3. However, there's always room to improve."
In Britain the Mazda3 included autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard on all models.
"In New Zealand and Australia AEB is an optional extra, but it is very pleasing to see Mazda including safety assist technologies that were once the domain of luxury vehicles on board more affordable options."
Dual frontal, side chest and curtain airbags are standard on the Mazda3 as are antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution and electronic stability control (ESC).
Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the presence of another five-star car in the New Zealand market was good news for Kiwi drivers.
"Five-star vehicles earn that rating because they give drivers and passengers the best chance of walking away from a crash, or of avoiding the crash altogether with active safety features like ESC and ABS.
"We're making good progress in reducing deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads, but we need to keep improving the safety of all parts of our transport system to save more lives and prevent more serious injuries. That means creating safer roads and roadsides, encouraging safer road use and safer travel speeds, and getting more people into safer vehicles."
Mazda NZ had been testing the prototypes of the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback around our roads during the summer, starting with a stint at Hampton Downs racetrack in South Waikato.
The Mazda3 impressed by including heads-up display - with vital information such as your speed reflected in the window in front of the driver. This makes it one of the most affordable cars to have such a feature.
- additional reporting, Liz Dobson