Nine in CX and the City

What’s a pretty grille do­ing on a new Mazda, writes NEILMcDONALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

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