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Mazda’s push into the premium space - with the launch of its new CX-60, built on a game-changing large, rear-drive platform that will utilise straight-six engines - isn’t about stealing sales from the German brands, or Lexus, it’s about stemming the flow of its own customers to those luxury marques.
“The CX-60 is an extension of our range, which means Mazda owners, Mazda fans, will have an additional option to consider prior to them thinking, ‘maybe I need to move to another brand’,” Mr Bindi told CarsGuide at the international launch of the new car in Portugal.
“Customers reach a point where they want something more luxurious, whatever that means to them, so they say ‘thanks Mazda, I’ve enjoyed all that, but I want to move up, to reward myself’, whatever it is, so they flow out of the brand to somewhere else.
“We think that’s a good market to say, ‘hey, we’re back in the game for you guys, so have a look at this.’
“I think that’s where the first part of the market for CX-60 is, I think the second part is it potentially will conquest sales, but that’s not our main strategy.”
Pricing and specs for the CX-60 is yet to be confirmed at this stage, but the new Mazda model is expected to kick off around $55,000 with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine – the same one found in the Mazda3, 6 and CX-5.
However, the CX-60 range will be topped by a plug-in hybrid electric version that uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine, a 100kW electric motor and a 17.8kWh lithium-ion battery to offer up 241kW and 500Nm of torque.
The price for the PHEV could very well start with a seven or eight, and will likely be more affordable than premium plug-in mid-size SUV offerings like the Lexus NX450h ($89,900 before on-road costs), the BMW X3 30e ($104,900), and the Volvo XC60 Recharge ($97,990).
While pricing is still uncertain, what is known is that the CX-60 is an extremely important vehicle for the brand locally.
“The CX-60 represents our next generation of what we call ‘Mazda Premium’, it’s the first example of what our engineers, designers and craftsman believe ‘Mazda Premium’ is, so it’s very important for the Australian market,” Mr Bindi added.
“We’re defining what premium is for Mazda as opposed to the preconceived idea of what might be a VFACTS classification of what luxury or premium means, and that’s purely price driven, so what’s premium for us may not be what’s previously been defined as premium.
“To us, it means design, what Mazda engineers can create and also craftsmanship. Of course, for us, it still has to be value driven, it has to be affordable and in a price range that we can attract consumers, but the CX-60 is what premium means to us.”