Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told CarAdvice that there were ways the all-new sports convertible could drop to a new price point that would help the brand target younger buyers in the vein of the budget-friendly Toyota 86.
Benders said the Toyota sports car – which is still priced from $29,990 - isn’t the determining factor in deciding what price the new MX-5 would cost, but that Mazda can draw on some lessons learnt from the positioning of that car.
“We look at [the 86], but we don’t really say ‘how does ours spec-up against theirs?’ or that sort of thing. They’re quite different cars,” he said.
“I guess if 86 taught us anything, it’s that if you take the price down far enough you can attract some new, younger people into the sports car segment again. That’s one lesson I guess we can learn,” Benders said.
He admitted that the current-generation MX-5 (above) had crept up in price over the years, after having started at a more affordable price point in the $30,000s in the past.
“We launched them at those prices. We got walked up because we weren’t doing the volume,” he said of the comparatively small convertible market in Australia. “At the moment we only sell hard-top, and autos, virtually, would you believe. So yeah, they’re over $40,000.”
Benders said that by being creative, Mazda could achieve a sharp price for the new version.
“There are ways of packaging it with powertrains and what have you to do something,” he said, hinting that a naturally-aspirated, lower-output engine will likely open the range, while the anticipated turbocharged version - as was teased just over a month ago - would be priced higher.
“There’s a whole range of variants we can put in there that can certainly drag it down,” he said, indicating that a bare-bones model with a manual fabric roof could resurface.
Mazda Australia senior manager of public relations Steve Maciver said there had been internal chat about making a more affordable model available for some time.
“The car’s all-new, from a technology point of view, from a design point of view the new car will bring a lot of new buyers to the market,” he said.
“One of things we said all along internally, as well as to you guys, was that there was absolutely an opportunity to [target a more affordable entry point],” Maciver said.
The new MX-5 is to be built upon an all-new platform that is shared with a new Fiat roadster as part of a joint-venture between the two companies.
The new MX-5 is set to be revealed on September 3, and will likely launch in Australia in about mid-2015.