Nine in CX and the City
What’s a pretty grille doing on a new Mazda, writes NEILMcDONALD
THE smiley face is appearing everywhere. Just a week after the launch of the new MX5, the latest Mazda to get the company’s new corporate ‘‘fivepoint’’ grille is the CX9.
Apart from the CX9 and MX5, the new face is spreading across the Mazda range.
It appears on the next-generation 3, due locally within days, and the CX7, which is due later this year.
Next year’s CX9 is expected to hit local showrooms later this year, about the same time as the updated CX7.
The CX9 will be unveiled at next month’s New York motor show.
Mazda is not revealing the exact changes, saying only that the car will get ‘‘added options and reinforced safety features’’.
However, the seven-seater’s existing 3.7-litre V6 and six-speed automatic is expected to carry over.
Unlike the CX7, though, no diesel version is tipped to be added to the range.
CX9 buyers can expect improvements in the V6’s fuel economy and a mildly updated cabin. Visually, the new corporate grille is prominent, as are the revised foglights and lower air intake.
Larger exterior rear view mirrors and updated tail-lights complete the look.
Locally, Mazda is one of the few brands that has had a good sales start this year, even with a relatively small overall share of 9 per cent. At the launch of the new MX5 last week, Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson says he remains confident this year, in the face of the 20 per cent market downturn.
He expects Mazda to continue to build its market share through the year, despite overall sales volumes being down.
The arrival of the next-generation 3 hatch and sedan is expected to be a big driver.
Mazda, like other Japanese importers, has been under pricing pressure because of unfavourable exchange rates with the Japanese yen. But Dickson expects the Aussie dollar to rebound in the next few months.
‘‘The Australian dollar could gain lost ground over the next few months,’’ he says.
‘‘So pricing pressure will disappear over the next six months.’’
Dickson expects Mazda to sell about 70,000 vehicles this year, 12 per cent fewer than the 79,826 vehicles sold last year.