Mazda has lifted covers on its new star hatchback in a series of design forums around the world.

In five cities worldwide, the Japanese manufacturer showed its long-awaited third generation Mazda3, which will hit New Zealand showrooms early in 2014.

A bold new direction keeps the big-selling five-door in step with the company's Kodo design language as seen on the CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs and the Mazda6.

It is also the latest model using a full suite of SKYACTIV technologies, which combine use of a lightweight platform and highly-efficient drivetrains to lower fuel consumption and emissions.


The hatchback will initially go on sale in New Zealand with a choice of two engines -
both petrol direct injection four-cylinders - a 2.0 SkyActiv G and the same 2.5-litre version as seen elsewhere in the range.

The two-litre makes 114kW and 200Nm of torque while 2.5 version makes 138kW and 250Nm.

To accommodate the new design, with its larger interior dimensions, longer bonnet and more purposeful cabin area the hatchback is 40mm longer, 60mm wider and the roofline has dropped by 15mm.

The hatchback is Mazda's largest seller, and the new sleek, sportier form marks its first redesign since 2009.

Over 3.5 million Mazda3s have been sold worldwide, and as well as being responsible for the lion's share of Mazda sales here, it was the top selling car in Australia last year, surprising many by beating Ford and Holden's large car offerings.

Mazda New Zealand marketing boss Glenn Harris says the new hatchback could be responsible for up to half of the brand's sales next year with high private, lease and fleet demand.

See more about the 2014 Mazda3 in this weekend's Driven.