The third-generation Mazda 3 small car starts a fraction higher than the immediate outgoing model but generally applies lower prices and more equipment throughout the new range.

A $20,490 sticker kicks things off for a base model Neo with a manual gearbox, with the furthest end of the spectrum the range-topping SP25 Astina auto that costs $38,190 before on-road costs are added.

The Mazda 3 range comprises six trim grades, effectively split into two lines – each powered by a separate petrol engine.

The most affordable line features Neo, Maxx and Touring models using a 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder under the bonnet.

SP25 models used to start above $30,000 but a three-model range now begins at $25,890 and utilise a 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder across SP25, SP25 GT and SP25 Astina model names.

Mazda Australia forecasts 55 per cent of Mazda 3 buyers to choose the price leader Neo, which means more than half of consumers will miss out on key features such as the new MZD Connect system with sat-nav and touchscreen, and reverse-view camera. Buyers also have to get a Maxx or above if they want paddleshift levers with their auto transmission.

2014 Mazda 3 - Interior 6

The Neo no longer comes with alloy wheels that became available on the Mazda 3 in run-out mode, though wheel size has increased from 15 to 16 inches.

All 2.0L models run on 16-inch wheels; all 2.5L models sit on 18-inch alloy wheels as standard.

If you want leather seats, the Touring that starts from $25,490 is your only 2.0L option, while for the 2.5L SP25 range you need to choose either the mid-spec SP25 GT or flagship SP25 Astina. A Mazda-first head-up display is standard on SP25 GT and SP25 Astina models.

Astina lives up to its flagship billing by offering a series of active safety technology that includes radar cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warning systems, headlights that can automatically switch between high and main beam to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic, and auto braking at speeds of 4-30km/h to help avoid common rear end collisions in urban traffic.

Click on the Photos tab for more images.

2014 Mazda 3 Key Features: Model by Model

Neo

2.0L four-cylinder engine

16-inch steel wheels

Bluetooth

Cloth seats

Cruise control

Push-button engine start

Maxx

As Neo, adding/changing to:

16-inch alloy wheels

MZD Connect

Reverse-view camera

Satellite navigation

Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearlever

Paddleshift levers (auto transmission)

Touring

As Maxx, adding/changing to:

Auto headlights

Dual-zone climate control

Leather seat trim

Driver lumbar seat support

Rain-sensing wipers

Sunglass storage

SP25

As Touring, adding/changing to:

2.5L four-cylinder engine

Cloth seats rather than leather

18-inch alloy wheels

Foglights

Rear spoiler (sedan)

SP25 GT

As SP25, adding/changing to:

Head-up display

Auto-dimming rear view mirror

Bi-xenon headlights

Heated front seats

Leather seat trim

Electrically adjustable driver’s seat

Bose audio system with nine speakers

SP25 Astina

As SP25 GT, adding/changing to:

Active cruise control

Sunroof

Lane departure warning

Blind spot monitoring

2014 Mazda 3 range

  • Neo sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed manual – $20,490
  • Neo sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed auto – $22,490
  • Maxx sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed manual – $22,990
  • Maxx sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed auto – $24,990
  • Touring sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed manual – $25,490
  • Touring sedan/hatch 2.0L 6-speed auto – $27,490
  • SP25 sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed manual – $25,890
  • SP25 sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed auto – $27,890
  • SP25 GT sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed manual – $30,590
  • SP25 GT sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed auto – $32,590
  • SP25 Astina sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed manual – $36,190
  • SP25 Astina sedan/hatch 2.5L 6-speed auto – $38,190