Mazda is reportedly six months away from launching its all-new Mazda3 in the USA, with several US dealers allegedly confirming a fourth-quarter on-sale date.
Speaking to US industry paper Automotive News, three dealers said that the 2014 Mazda3 is locked in for a US launch in autumn (our spring), less than a year after the arrival of the impressive new Mazda6 range.
It's not yet clear what that translates to in terms of an Australian launch date.
Given the fortunes of the Mazda3 in the Australian market, it's a critical car for the Japanese automaker. Despite being right at the tail end of its lifespan, the Mazda3 led the small car segment in 2012, capturing 18 percent of segment volume and even surpassing sales of the Toyota Corolla.
More impressively, the Mazda3 was the highest-selling passenger car overall last year.
However, 2013 will be the first full year of sales for the new Corolla hatch that was launched last October. If the new Mazda3 won't be arriving until the fourth quarter of 2013, then the Corolla could overtake the Mazda3 to regain top spot as "most popular small car".
What can we expect of the new 3? Spy photos of a pre-production prototype reveal that Mazda's 'Kodo' design language will be liberally applied to the new 3, with narrow headlamps framing Mazda's signature five-sided grille.
The tail-lights will also be much slimmer, aping the style of the new Mazda6's lamps.
The 2014 Mazda3 will be built atop a shortened version of the Mazda6 and CX5's chassis, which makes use of the automaker's Skyactiv construction techniques to save weight without resorting to exotic materials.
Expect a range of 2.0 litre Skyactiv diesel and petrol engines too, as well as the same i-Eloop regenerative braking system used by the Mazda6.