The baby of the Mazda lineup is going through a mid-life update and, as part of the changes, a three-box sedan will join the 2 range. But it will come at a price, as the three-door hatch will be dumped.
Mazda Australia refuses to talk about the full implications of the switch, which comes as it changes the Mazda2 supply line from Japan to Thailand. "The opportunity was there. It seemed a reasonably straightforward business decision," says Mazda Australia's marketing chief, Alastair Doak. "They are building the car in Thailand for the Asia-Pacific region. We already get shipments of the BT50 (ute) from Thailand, so that makes it easier."
Doak refuses to discuss the showroom implications of the Thailand change, even though it could lead to a better bottom line for buyers. There is a slightly cheaper import duty from Thailand and also the potential for a lower manufacturing cost. "Currently we're at $17,490 drive-away. We're more more than happy," he says. "Exchange rate has a much bigger bearing on prices than tariff rates."
Doak says he is happy with the sales rate for the Mazda2, which appeals more to customers looking for quality than a super-low price. "It's going really well and the last few months have been very, very strong. The car is not down. A lot of cars in the baby segment are considerably cheaper, but that's not a space that we want to play."
Doak admits the sedan will not be a huge seller for Mazda, but believes it can work. "The sedan market in Australia for these sized cars isn't huge, but there is a market there. It will potentially appeal to a slightly older buyer, and we think that's an opportunity. There is enough interest to justify bringing in the sedan."
The Mazda2 sedan will come with 15 inch alloy wheels, airconditioning and power windows and mirrors. On the safety front it will have front-side-curtain airbags and anti-skid brakes. The engine will be unchanged with a 1.5-litre four that produces 76kW with fuel economy of 6.4 litres/100km.