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Mazda Australia says it will not abandon affordable model segments as it pursues its strategy to move further upmarket.
As more and more carmakers either drastically increase the prices of their entry models, or pull out of the light and micro car segments altogether, Mazda says it remains committed to its entry offerings, the Mazda2 light car and CX-3 light SUV.
Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak told CarsGuide that the Japanese brand’s push into premium territory would not mean an early end for the two related models.
“I mean at some point we will decide whether we will replace them or not. But the going proposition is, why wouldn’t they be?
“But we all know, in general across all brands, those entry models, because of regulation, whether it’s safety, emissions, whatever, they are all becoming much more expensive,” he said.
As CarsGuide recently reported, it’s believed that the next-generation Mazda2 and CX-3 have been delayed, with the hatchback set to be uncovered next March and the light SUV in October 2022.
Mazda recently confirmed plans to roll out a range of new premium SUVs, the first of which – the CX-60 – is expected in Australian showrooms next year. The others – CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 are not yet confirmed for Australia but are under consideration.
It’s part of Mazda’s global plan to become a more premium brand over the coming years.
Mazda has changed the positioning of a number of key models in recent years, including the Mazda2. When it launched the updated Mazda2 in late 2019, it came with a steep $5500 price hike for the entry grade.
At the time Mazda said it was because buyers want more standard equipment and those inclusions push the price point up.
The Mazda3 also went up in price when the new-generation version arrived in 2019. Even the entry point for the CX-3 has increased by about $3000 compared with its launch pricing from 2015.
The move upmarket for the Mazda2 certainly hasn’t harmed sales. In fact, the light car is up 44 per cent year on year with 3588 registrations to the end of September.
The CX-3 is still the best-selling light SUV in the country, with 2021 sales up 14.5 per cent to 11,250. That’s about 5000 units ahead of the second placed Toyota Yaris Cross.
Mazda is not the only carmaker to move away from cut-price entry-level variants in favour of more profitable model grades.
Toyota’s new-gen Yaris light hatch jumped in price by about $7000 when it arrived in August last year. The opening price for the Yaris is currently $23,740 before on-road costs for the Ascent Sport auto, which is just $155 cheaper than the most affordable Corolla in the next segment up – the Ascent Sport manual at $23,895.
Currently MG Motor and Kia are the big hitters in the sub-$20,000 entry segments. The MG3 is the top-selling light car in Australia by some margin, and the Kia Picanto is easily the most popular micro car.
A number of brands have abandoned the light and micro car segment in recent years, notably Honda (Jazz and City), Hyundai (Accent), Renault (Clio), Ford (non-ST Fiestas) and Nissan (Micra), while Mitsubishi is about to pull its ageing Mirage hatch from sale over changes to Australian Design Rules that it no longer complies with.