Mazda Australia has made a bold move by pushing the new Mazda 3 sedan and hatch upmarket. According to CarAdvice, the decision was a response to what the company claims as customer demand for “ritzier choices” in the small car market.

This results in a price increase of AUD$4,500 (RM13k) for the entry-level G20 Pure variant – it now starts from AUD$24,990 (RM72k), which means the on-the-road price will hover close to AUD$30,000 (RM87k). That makes it slightly more expensive than some rivals – the new Toyota Corolla retails for AUD$22,970 (RM67k) but costs around AUD$26k (RM75k) OTR.

Company managing director Vinesh Bhindi acknowledged that the decision to drive up prices will cost the brand sales. “Our strategy is a little bit different. From our point of view, [the] Mazda3 will be a new standard in the small car segment. There are other options for an entry point in the market right now [and] in our range we have still Mazda2, CX-3.”

Mazda3 hatch in the new Polymetal Grey

The Mazda3 hatch will be the first to arrive in the second quarter, before it is joined by the sedan in the second half of the year. Again, the base G20 Pure model starts from AUD$24,990 (RM72k), and the optional automatic gearbox costs AUD$1,000 (RM2.9k) extra. A choice of 2.0 litre or 2.5 litre four-cylinder SkyActiv-G engines are available – the more advanced SkyActiv-X powertrain will also be introduced at a later date.

To compensate for the price hike, Mazda Australia chose to introduce a more generous list of equipment. To start, base models ride on 17-inch wheels and get the seven-inch colour digital instrument panel, as well as an 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities.

Safety-wise, there’s autonomous emergency braking (in reverse as well, just like the CX-5), active cruise control, blind spot monitoring system, traffic sign recognition and rear cross traffic alert.

One rung above is the G20 Evolve (AUD$1,700 or RM4.9k more), which gets dual-zone climate control and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters. More expensive models get smart key and powered leather seats with memory function, whereas the 2.5 litre G25 GT model gets enhanced with a 12-speaker Bose stereo system, heated seats and more.

The range-topping G25 Astina (pictured here in Polymetal Grey) is priced at AUD$36,990 (RM107k). For the money, it gets black 18-inch alloy wheels, 360-degree camera, adaptive LED headlights and leather upholstery (with choice of black, white or burgundy).

Safety kit includes front parking sensors, camera-based driver fatigue monitoring, front cross traffic alert and a more sophisticated version of rear cross traffic alert that applies the brakes if it senses a possible collision. Like what you see so far?