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Mazda banks on MX-5 RF sales

Fast talker: The RF launched about 18 months after the Roadster hit Australian shores in August 2015.

Retractable Fastback version of Mazda’s MX-5 to make up 60 per cent of sales

Mazda logo3 Apr 2017

MAZDA Australia says it is happy with the response to the new MX-5 RF, or Retractable Fastback, with enthusiasts and new buyers snapping up the new variant since its launch.

The RF arrived in late January this year and it followed the launch of the fourth-generation ND-series MX-5 Roadster rag-top that lobbed in August 2015.

The MX-5 had its best sales year ever in 2016, with Mazda shifting 1577 examples of the tiny drop-top, representing a 72 per cent lift over its 2015 result.

In the sub-$80,000 sportscar segment it only trailed the top-selling Ford Mustang (6208), Hyundai Veloster (2232), BMW 2 Series (2159) and the Toyota 86 (2068).

So far this year sales have slid by 19.4 per cent over the first two months of 2015 with 261 units shifted, reflecting the common trend of sportscars losing sales about a year after they have launched.

Speaking with GoAuto at the CX-5 launch in Queensland last week, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the company was pleased with the sales trajectory of the new RF variant since launch.

“Currently it is dominating sales as you would expect because it is new,” he said. “I think we will have to wait a few more months to see how things settle down. We always expected it to be majority of sales anyway, but it is doing really well.” Mr Doak added that the sales split was about 60/40 to the RF, which Mazda was anticipating.

“It has been up and down because of supply the last couple of months. There is outdoor marketing and promotion happening around that car at the moment so give it a couple of months and see where the dust settles.” One sportscar that could be taking some of its sales is the twin-under-the-skin Abarth 124 Spider that arrived in Australia in October last year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has shifted 49 units in January and February this year after selling 169 in the three months it was on sale last year.

GoAuto was told last year by an FCA insider that the number one trade-in car for an Abarth 124 Spider within its first few weeks of launch was the MX-5.

Both models are built in Japan by Mazda, but the Abarth has its own styling and uses its own 1.4-litre turbocharged engine.

Mr Doak said he was “not aware” of any impact on sales from the 124 Spider since its launch last year.

“Not that I am aware of. Maybe they do at dealerships, but certainly we haven’t been getting any feedback around that. Our numbers are still strong.” The MX-5 has a strong enthusiast following and Mr Doak said the ND-series model has been warmly embraced by the Australian MX-5 club.

“It is the closest to the original we have had since the original obviously. But at the same time, it is a modern interpretation of that and the car is really at a much higher level. They have been very supportive.” He added that the recent Fan Fest, held by the combined state-based clubs at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway in January this year, was proof of the success of the MX-5.

“The Fan Fest was just an amazing event. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to rock up and see all of those cars and see all of those smiling faces and hear everyone talking about the MX-5, it was great.”

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