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Mazda taking a 'cake and eat it' approach to global market growth

CarsGuide went to the international launch of the new CX-30 small SUV last week.

Mazda isn’t just pushing upmarket with its ever more refined and luxurious new models, with the Japanese brand committed to retaining traditional buyers at the mainstream end of the market. 

Speaking with CarsGuide at the international launch of the new CX-30 small SUV last week, Mazda global development and product planning boss Hiroyuki Matsumoto spoke of the “volume zone” the brand is targeting.

He explained via a hand-sketched graph that there is a significant chunk of the new car market further up the price scale that sits adjacent to Mazda’s typical buyer demographic territory, which the brand is now targeting. 

“Instead of moving upwards, we’d like to retain existing but expand our customer base,” he said. 

It all started with the surprisingly comfortable second-generation CX-9 three years ago, before the top-spec Mazda6 scored some of its fairy dust with one of its many updates in 2016.

Fast forward to 2019 and the new-generation Mazda3 has taken big strides in terms of refinement and comfort, which has carried over to the new CX-30 that is set to appear in Australia in early 2020.

The new-generation Mazda3 has taken big strides in terms of comfort, which has carried over to the CX-30. The new-generation Mazda3 has taken big strides in terms of comfort, which has carried over to the CX-30.

Tellingly, the brand’s long-term Zoom Zoom driver-focused marketing catchcry wasn’t mentioned once at the CX-30 event or in any press materials.

The Mazda3 team has previously confirmed that non-traditional benchmarks like the current Peugeot 308 had been used as a benchmark during its development, but Matsumoto-san shook his head when asked whether any particular premium products had also been included. 

“Our target is not to win over BMW and Audi as such. We do not aim to copy the German brands,” he said. 

“The German brands seem to be targeting mechanical advancement, we like to address for the customer what makes them happy - human centric.”

“I like the customer to choose Mazda cars, not because it looks like BMW, but because it is a Mazda unique technology we offer.”

Asked about whether there’s a degree of pride in achieving something like Skyactiv-X for production, where much bigger and well resourced companies like Mercedes-Benz couldn’t, Matsumoto-san explained: “I think this the essence of drive our engineers depended on.”

“Our ultimate goal has not been to do something different, we’re just purely trying to find the right way to solve a problem or meet the target.”

This aligns with the philosophy behind the brand’s new Skyactiv-X petrol drivetrain technology, which on the surface might appear a touch incremental in the face of the electric-focused race favoured by all other global brands.  

“I like the customer to choose Mazda cars...because it is a Mazda unique technology we offer." - Hiroyuki Matsumoto. “I like the customer to choose Mazda cars...because it is a Mazda unique technology we offer." - Hiroyuki Matsumoto.

“Our reason why we pursue the ideal combustion, instead of pursuing the use batteries or further electrification, we did that because that was the right thing to do,” he added.

As the discussion for adequate infrastructure to enable mainstream electric vehicle use continues with no total solution in the foreseeable future, it’s hard to argue with Matsumoto-san. 

Mazda is indeed planning electrified and fuel cell drivetrains, but aims to bring such technology to market when it is more commercially realistic for the mainstream.

Would you choose a higher-spec Mazda over a less-equipped premium brand for the same price? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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