New Mazda3 raising quality and the price
MAZDA is taking a gamble with its best-selling car, raising the get-in price by $4500.
The cheapest Mazda3 will cost almost $30,000 on the road when the new model launches later this year. That makes it significantly more expensive than some rivals, which tempt buyers into showrooms with sub-$20,000 drive-away deals. Mazda currently has a run-out deal on 2018 Mazda3s of $21,490 drive-away.
Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi knows the decision will cost the brand sales.
"Our strategy is a little bit different," Bhindi says. "From our point of view 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."
In other words, if you can't afford the new Mazda3, pick a smaller car from the range or jog along to a rival dealership. Mazda expects sales of the high-riding CX-5 to overtake its small car before long.
Arriving in the second quarter, the new Mazda3 hatch will be joined by a sedan in the latter half of the year.
The range starts at $24,990 plus on-road costs, and 90 per cent of buyers will spend an extra $1000 for an automatic transmission, so the cheapest auto Mazda3 will cost about $30,000 on the road.
Customers can choose between 2.0-litre or 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines with 114kW/200Nm and 139kW/252Nm outputs largely carried over from the previous model.
Heavier than its predecessor, the new car also uses more petrol in the cheapest model. Its claimed fuel use is 6.3L/100km in base manual form, 0.5L more than the outgoing car.
The news is better for more expensive models with the 2.5-litre engine, where the adoption of cylinder deactivation has cut fuel use by 0.5L.
Efficiency-minded motorists should wait for a third petrol option due this year which uses high compression to squeeze more energy from every drop of fuel.
Mazda has lifted the level of equipment in the new range to compensate for the price rise.
The Mazda3 G20 Pure opens the batting at $24,990 plus on-road costs in manual form, bringing a 2.0-litre engine, 17-inch alloy wheels (with a temporary steel spare), seven-inch digital instrument readout and head-up display. An 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment unit displays the reversing camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, digital radio and satnav.
Safety kit includes auto emergency braking that operates in forward and reverse, active cruise control, traffic sign recognition and rear cross traffic alert.
Shelling out a further $1700 for the G20 Evolve gets 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control aircon and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle-shifters. G20 Touring models build on that with smart keys, leather trim and driver's seat with electric adjustment and memory functions for $28,990 in manual form.
A 2.5-litre engine for the Evolve adds $2800, while the $33,490 G25 GT brings the big motor plus a 12-speaker Bose stereo, heated seats and more.
The range-topping G25 Astina pictured here ($36,990) has black 18-inch wheels, 360-degree camera, adaptive LED headlights and leather trim (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.
Cheaper variants can be optioned with the added safety tech for $1500. Premium paint now costs $495, up from $300.
Mazda expects the G20 Evolve to be the bestseller, with two-thirds of customers opting for the entry-level engine, 60 per cent of customers opting for the hatch and 90 per cent running with an auto transmission.