For over a decade, the Mazda3 has been part of a three-way battle for supremacy in the Australian small car market. The 2004 original threw the felines among the flying rats when launched, transforming the then-dowdy 323 into a stylish, well-equipped, and well-priced contender for Toyota's segment-dominating Corolla, and later, Hyundai's value-packed i30.

In 2017, the battle is still raging. Late 2016 saw a mild update to Mazda's flagship hatch and sedan range to add a few bits and bobs to the its already finely-judged specification. The Corolla stayed pretty much the same, and just this month Hyundai dropped what is now an annual tradition, an absolute cracker of a new car. This time, the all-new i30.

As you can see, Mazda has never had it easy, and it's a testament to the 3's quality, style and ever-growing reputation that it continues to hold its own in the top three.