The price of the Mazda 3 has been cut to $19,990 driveaway as Mazda Australia takes one final shot at the Toyota Corolla and the 2013 sales crown.

mazda-3-neo

The aggressive driveaway pricing comes on the back of the international launch of the third-generation Mazda 3, which is destined to arrive in local showrooms in January/February 2014.

The $19,990 driveaway price tag applies to the Mazda 3 Neo manual, which normally costs from $20,330 before on-road costs, and effectively undercuts the Corolla that is priced from $19,990 before on-roads.

The Mazda 3 Maxx Sport manual is also available from $24,890 driveaway (usually $24,490 before on-roads), while the Mazda 3 SP25 manual now costs from $32,290 driveaway (usually $31,490 before on-roads).

mazda-3-neo-1

The Mazda 3 has been Australia’s top-selling new vehicle for the past two years, but faces an uphill battle to claim a third consecutive win in 2013. Strong sales in May and June saw the Corolla overtake the compact Mazda and take an 893-unit lead (20,970 units versus 20,077) after the first half of the year.

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders believes the Mazda 3 is still in the hunt to take out the title, however, telling CarAdvice at the unveiling of the all-new hatch late last month that the amount of incoming stock will put it in the hunt.

“We have all the cars coming that are going to be coming for this year,” Benders said. “That should be enough to get us close to holding the crown, but it really depends on what the competition does I guess.

“I don’t think anybody will lose any sleep if we lose it because it is in its final year and we’ve got our launch so early in the calendar year.”

MY2014 Mazda 3

Benders said he was “quietly confident” the new Mazda 3 (above) would reclaim the title in 2014 if the run-out model relinquishes it over the coming months.

The discount pricing will not carry over to the third-gen line-up, however, with Benders confirming Mazda had no intention of engaging in the sub-$20K small-car price war.

“Not for the new car,” he said. “It deserves better than that.

“You have to ask yourself the question why [the competition has] priced it there, and they’ve done that because that’s where they think they need to be to sell the cars.

“My approach is that I’d rather be better in the segment than cheapest in the segment. We offer the better alternative in the segment. Still competitive, still in the mix, but it doesn’t have to be rock bottom, and I think this car fits that.”

Read CarAdvice's 2014 Mazda 3 Review.