The year ahead will see Mazda Australia roll out a quartet of updated and all-new models, each crucial in their own way.
First cabs off the rank will be the refreshed Mazda6 and CX-5 family cars revealed at last month’s LA Auto Show, both due in showrooms for the first quarter of 2015.
The CX-5, already Australia’s best-selling midsized SUV by a comfortable margin (19,854 year-to-date sales to the RAV4’s 16,394), will benefit from subtle tweaks inside and out to keep it ahead of the pack.
As with the refreshed Mazda6, the CX-5 team has given special attention to its comfort and handling, adding revised suspension and damping, along with a 10 percent reduction in road noise thanks to upgraded insulation.
We can also expect new safety and convenience features, including lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, smart brake support, radar-based active cruise control and adaptive LED headlights.
There’s also low-speed smart city brake support and pre-collision throttle control, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.
MORE: CX-5 News & Reviews
Changes to the 6 sedan and wagon are more obvious, however, bringing a bold refresh of the ‘Kodo’ grille design and a significantly overhauled dash in the cabin.
The Mazda6 has also been upgraded with new safety assist features, improved sound insulation that promises a 25 percent improvement on the highway, along with key changes to the midsized family car’s suspension package.
These upgrades could prove vital, because while the Mazda6 is unlikely to pass Toyota’s Camry as Australia’s best selling midsizer anytime soon (5486 sales YTD to the Camry’s 19,670), it will soon have to contend with Ford’s new Mondeo range.
Ford has been campaigning heavily for the new Mondeo in recent months and, while it is not strictly an ‘all new’ model (it first appeared as North America’s ‘Fusion’ in early 2012), the range will prove a welcome replacement for the eight year-old third generation line.
Sales for the Mazda6 range are well ahead of the Mondeo (2953 year-to-date) this year, but that gap will certainly shrink in 2015.
Interestingly, Australia was one of the liftback Mazda6 model’s best-selling markets in the previous generation, but, while the current 6 range offers only a sedan and wagon, Ford’s new Mondeo will be offered here in sedan, wagon and liftback form.
Mazda6 versus Mondeo will be a battle worth watching, particularly as Ford will likely be far more ready to pursue high-volume fleet sales than Mazda - which is only just now beginning to explore options in fleet, and specifically with small-business sales in mind.
MORE: Mazda6 News & Reviews
Perhaps the most important new Mazda of all, if only in terms of sales volume and bragging rights, will be the new CX-3, due here in Autumn next year
Mazda’s long-expected entrant into the compact SUV market made its global debut at last month’s LA Auto Show, after months of speculation and rumour.
Based on the new Mazda2 hatch, the CX-3 fills a space next to - and, in some dimensional directions, crossing into the territory of - the 2, the Mazda3 and the noteably larger CX-5 SUV.
In this, Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders believes the CX-3 is “a sweet car in a sweet spot”, offering a higher-set alternative to the Mazda2 and Mazda3, and entering as a clear rival to the best-selling Hyundai ix35.
Mazda believes the CX-3 can become the new segment leader, and that underscores its importance, because the ix35 (16,725 sales YTD) has been a significant contributor to Hyundai’s huge sales growth in recent years.
Watch for TMR’s ‘first drive’ review of the CX-3 next week, and catch our detailed coverage at the link below.
MORE: CX-3 News & Reviews
For enthusiasts, Mazda’s biggest play in 2015 will be its all-new MX-5 roadster, revealed in September.
The new ‘ND’ MX-5 will hit Australia “in late 2015”, available in entry 1.5 litre and top-shelf 2.0 litre forms.
Mazda has hinted that it will offer the new MX-5 at a keener-than-ever price point, with Toyota’s 86 Coupe providing that the hunger for brand-new sports cars is shared by cash-strapped young and moneyed-up old alike.
Details are still to come, but we’re likely to see the 1.5 enter as a new sub-$40k price leader that will focus more on stylish cruising than the sports-heavy campaigning that will go with the 2.0 engine.
MORE: MX-5 News & Reviews
A significant update to Mazda’s big BT-50 utility will round out the brand’s major moves in 2015, bringing new tricks and refreshed looks.
Arriving on the back-end of the company’s ‘Nagare’ styling language, the BT-50’s bulbous face now makes the pickup something of an outlier in the new Mazda range.
The BT-50 has been a solid seller for Mazda, but like its platform mate the Ford Ranger, a new look will help it face off against the dominant HiLux - soon to be replaced - and the incoming new Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton models.
Mazda has confirmed the BT-50’s refreshed styling will again drawn on the brand’s passenger line, adding a sharp dose of the new ‘Kodo’ language for a sharper look.
Watch for the refreshed BT-50, with new looks and new features, to hit Australia late next year.
MORE: BT-50 News & Reviews