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Driven: Mazda3 goes upmarket with new generation

Mazda says higher entry point won’t hurt sales of volume-selling Mazda3 range

Mazda logo12 Apr 2019

MAZDA Australia believes increasing the entry point of its popular Mazda3 small car range will not affect sales numbers due to private buyers – its target demographic – tending to opt for more mid- and high-end variants.
 
While the previous Mazda3 range opened at $20,490 plus on-roads for the six-speed manual Neo, the new range now kicks off from $24,990, with a new naming strategy that begins with the G20 Pure.
 
While a $4500 shift upstream seems significant in the value-focused small car segment, Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bindhi said the shift in point of entry was due to the removal of an entry-level grade, which should not drastically affect Mazda3 sales.
 
“In terms of what we are offering in the marketplace, when we say the starting price is higher than the outgoing generation, it’s not actually true,” he said. 
 
“What we are doing is we’re not having an entry grade as we had in the last generation. Where we are starting our pricing, our features, our specs from, is where 90 per cent of our customers have said ‘that’s what I want to buy’. 
 
“Our starting point with the Pure model is really including a significant amount of extended features which was available to them in the previous Maxx and Maxx Sport grade, and we’re offering that and a whole lot more value. 
 
“So if we are going to lose some customers because of pure affordability of these things, then we may be able to offer them alternatives, either with the CX-3 (or) maybe if that’s not something they would like then maybe a used car, but there is a chance we may lose a small number of our customers who repeatedly buy on an entry price, we may not have something to offer. 
 
“But I don’t think the exit will be significant.”
 
Under the new Mazda3 naming system, three variants each will be offered with the two available engine options, starting with the G20 Pure, G20 Evolve and G20 Touring for the 2.0-litre mill, and G25 Evolve, G25 GT and G25 Astina for the more powerful 2.5-litre engine.
 
Further down the line, the SkyActiv X compression-ignition petrol engine will debut in the flagship Astina variant, while a mild-hybrid SkyActiv X powertrain is also a chance for Australia.
 
Mazda expects the G20 Evolve to be the most popular variant with around 30 per cent of sales, while the 2.0-litre engine is expected to make up two thirds of overall sales.
 
The hatch body style will be the more popular variant with 60 per cent of sales compared to the sedan which will arrive mid-year, while only 10 per cent of buyers will opt for the six-speed manual transmission offered across the range.
 
With the new generation, Mazda has focused on bringing the Mazda3 upmarket with a step up in standard kit and a significant focus on improving noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, with 49 wholesale changes over the outgoing model specifically targeting an NVH improvement.
 
Changes include introducing damping ‘nodes’ between the car’s steel panels to reduce vibration, moving audio speakers from the doors to the footwell, and developing a new set of tyres specifically designed to reduce noise from the road.
 
With the removal of the previous entry-level grade, Mazda has improved the level of standard kit on its small car contender, starting with the G20 Pure which includes 16-inch alloys, 8.8-inch widescreen display with the Mazda Connect infotainment system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation, eight-speaker audio system, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, electric parking brake, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, black cloth seat trim with manual adjustment and rain-sensing wipers.
 
All models feature Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of safety features, which includes seven airbags, blind spot monitor, driver attention alert, emergency stop signal, forward obstruction warning, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, active cruise control with stop and go, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and tyre pressure monitor.
 
Stepping up to the volume-selling G20 Evolve adds 18-inch alloys, dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped gear shifter and steering wheel, paddle shifters for auto variants and a rear centre fold-down armrest.
 
The top-spec 2.0-litre G20 Touring nets buyers advanced keyless entry, auto-dimming side mirrors, an overhead sunglass storage compartment, black leather seat trim, illuminated vanity mirrors and 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and memory function.
 
Moving up to the more powerful 25 variants, the entry-level G25 Evolve builds on the spec of the G20 Evolve but adds advanced keyless entry and 10-way adjustable power seat.
 
The G25 GT includes auto-dimming side mirrors, heated front seats, overhead sunglass storage compartment, heated power mirrors, 12-speaker Bose audio system, black leather upholstery, heated steering wheel and front vanity mirrors.
 
Topping the range, the G25 Astina adds unique 18-inch hoops, surround-view monitor, adaptive LED headlights, cruising and traffic support which can autonomously accelerate and brake in traffic situations, driver monitoring, front cross-traffic assist, front parking sensors, a sunroof and black leather trim with the option of burgundy (hatch) or pure white (sedan) leather.
 
Engines are carried over from the outgoing model including the 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 114kW at 6000rpm and 200kW at 4000rpm for G20 models, and a 2.5-litre mill pumping out 139kW at 6000rpm and 252Nm at 4000rpm for the G25.
 
Both drive the front wheels only with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission across the range. There are currently no plans to offer an all-paw version here.
 
The Mazda3 hatch goes on sale in Australia this week, while due to staggered production the sedan variant will arrive mid-year.
 
2019 Mazda3 pricing*
G20 Pure $24,990
G20 Pure (a) $25,990
G20 Evolve $26,690
G20 Evolve (a)  $27,690 
G20 Touring  $28,990 
G20 Touring (a)  $29,990 
G25 Evolve  $29,490 
G25 Evolve (a)  $30,490 
G25 GT  $33,490 
G25 GT (a)  $34,490 
G25 Astina $36,990 
G25 Astina (a)  $37,990 

*Excludes on-road costs


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