Mazda says no to entry-level diesels

The boss of Mazda Australia says its new-generation ‘Skyactiv’ diesels engines are “premium” products and will only be offered at the upper end of its model line-ups.
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Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson confirmed the brand had no plans to introduce an entry-level CX-5 Maxx diesel model, and is unlikely to offer base model diesels when it launches the next Mazda6 and Mazda3.

“That’s our strategy that we’ve always kept with,” Dickson said. “It’s a strategy that we’ve developed over many years and we will continue with it.”

Mazda completed its local CX-5 line-up yesterday with the launch of two high-end diesel variants: the $39,040 Maxx Sport and the $46,200 Grand Touring. Dickson says it doesn’t make sense to offer a cheaper Maxx model with the strong-performing 129kW/420Nm 2.2-litre diesel engine.

“What we are offering is a premium product with the diesel. It’s not designed to be the cheapest on the block.

“It would be like putting a 2.3 MPS engine into a Mazda3 Neo; why would you do it? Some people might buy it, but generally, if they’re looking more for value, utility, fuel economy, then they’ll move towards the bottom end to the Maxx and the Maxx Sport.

“If they’re looking for premium with all the bells, whistles, luxury things, they’ll move towards the top end diesel.”

The Mazda CX-5 is available in overseas markets with a lower-performance 110kW/380Nm tune of the 2.2-litre diesel engine. Teamed with front-wheel drive, it consumes 4.5 litres of fuel per 100km under European standards, making it 21 per cent more efficient than the AWD diesel models offered here.

Dickson said Mazda Australia could have introduced that engine instead, but elected to go for the higher-performance powerplant.

“If we just wanted one for fuel economy, that’s one of the choices, and yes, we might have slotted that into the bottom end,” he said.

“[But] you wouldn’t want to place your whole customer value proposition just on fuel economy because you’d miss out.

“There’s more to life than just the fuel economy.”

Dickson said Mazda Australia’s premium diesel strategy was based on extensive research and countless conversations with current Mazda owners and prospective customers.

“Our research indicates that customers aren’t interested in companies patting themselves on the back saying ‘aren’t we fuel efficient’. They say: ‘you’re a major worldwide maker of cars, your obligation is to produce things that are fuel efficient’.

“That’s what Skyactiv is: it’s the next generation of models that are fuel efficient but at the same time we have performance options which are responsible.”

High-end models of the third-generation Mazda6 will feature a version of the CX-5’s Skyactiv-D 2.2-litre diesel engine and the new Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission when the all-new mid-sizer goes on sale in Australia in 2013.

The next-generation Mazda3 still some way off, and is unlikley to go on sale locally before 2014.