UPDATE: New developments suggest these images are not authentic, rather they are composite images based on existing Mazda images.
Is this Mazda's all-new 2014 Mazda3 hatch? Published in a Japanese magazine this week, the images shown here are believed to have been released ahead of an upcoming press embargo.
The authenticity of the images is unclear, although there is little reason to doubt their accuracy. TMR's own spy photos reveal that the shape is on-the-money, and the overall design is in-line with Mazda's new 6 and CX-5 models.
The 2014 Mazda3 will be built atop a shortened version of the Mazda6 and CX-5'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.
Mazda will be looking to its new 3 to steal back the mantle of Australia's best-selling car from the 2013 Toyota Corolla - and if the runaway success of Mazda's CX-5 SUV is anything to go by, the two Japanese marques are heading for a fight.
Despite being right at the tail end of its lifespan, the Mazda3 led Australia's small car segment in 2012, capturing 18 percent of segment volume.
We're expecting news of an Australian debut for the new Mazda3 to be announced in the coming months. Watch this space for more.