Kingpin is revealed
Mazda gives us a glimpse of the new 3, writes PAUL GOVER
THE car that will set the direction for Mazda in Australia for at least the next four years has just been unveiled.
The all-new Mazda3 has the toughest job for the brand. It must go up against the best-selling Toyota Corolla and deliver the bedrock sales to power the Mazda brand forward.
Mazda Australia has only released a handful of pictures of the new 3 and will keep mechanical details secret until the Los Angeles Motor Show next month.
‘‘It’s very, very important. It’s our key product. It competes in the small segment, which is the largest in the industry and still growing,’’ Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson says.
‘‘It’s better in every way from the current one.
‘‘We’ve been number two in the small segment for as long as we can remember. We’ve always had good success with small cars, going back to the 323.
‘‘Small cars have been a staple for us for donkey’s years.’’
The Mazda3 pictures show a car with more muscle than the current model, and a bold nose. They also hint at slightly more space in the cabin. But Dickson will not be drawn. ‘‘The car gets here in 2009. That’s all we are saying at this moment,’’ he says.
The official Mazda press information on the car says it ‘‘will redefine small-car benchmarks for styling, handling and value for money’’.
The sales numbers for the Mazda3 are impressive, with a 14 per cent share of the small-car class. Dickson says the company will not push for much more.
Instead, it is happy to convert private-car buyers and will not be chasing the fleet sales that would give it more volume, but little more profit.
‘‘The sales rate is about 2700 or 2800 a month,’’ Dickson says.
‘‘We’ll be happy with about the same sort of numbers and share, then it would grow with the segment. We don’t target the whole market.’’
In any case, Mazda says it is limited in the number of 3s it can land in Australia.
Dickson says the price of the new 3 has not been set, but he is not overly worried by the recent fall in the value of the Australian dollar, expecting a rebound by next year.
‘‘I do tend to support the analysts’ view that the Australian dollar has been oversold,’’ he says.
‘‘To my way of thinking, the long-term position is 80 to 85 to the dollar. At 80 to 85 we are fine.’’
Nose job: the new Mazda3 has a bold nose and more muscle than the current car.