The Audi A3, BMW 4 Series and Mazda 3 will battle it out for the 2014 World Car of the Year crown.
The German and Japanese trio has been handpicked from an initial list of 28 that was announced in November and shortlisted to 12 last month, with the likes of the BMW i3, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and Skoda Octavia failing to make the final cut.
The Peugeot 308, crowned the 2014 European Car of the Year last week, also failed to progress from the top dozen to the final three.
Finalists have also been announced for the four sub-categories.
The World Green Car of the Year is an all-German affair, with the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron qualifying alongside the BMW i3 and Volkswagen XL1.
Europeans dominate the World Luxury Car of the Year too, with the Bentley Flying Spur, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Range Rover Sport competing for top honours.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray flies the international flag in the World Performance Car of the Year category, taking on the Ferrari 458 Speciale and the Porsche 911 GT3.
The i3 and Mazda 3 reappear in the World Car Design of the Year final, joined by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
A total of 69 journalists from 22 countries will vote on the five Car of the Year categories in the coming weeks. The winners will be announced at the New York auto show on April 17.