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Future models - Mazda - MX-Micro Sport

Mazda MX-Micro Sport hope for Oz

Styling for a change: The MX-Micro Sport reflects Mazda’s plan to make its niche products more individual than the mainstream range.

Mazda puts together a business case for another small car Down Under

23 Jan 2004

THE production version of the Mazda MX-Micro Sport concept unveiled at the Detroit motor show is under consideration for sale in Australia.

The five-door hatchback spin-off of the Mazda2 goes on sale in Japan in August or September and is also under consideration for the US.

The car is seen by Mazda Australia as a possible bridge between the Mazda2 and just-launched Mazda3, in terms of both price and styling.

It is understood Mazda’s world sales and marketing chief Stephen Odell requested the Australians examine a business case for the car during his visit last week for the media and dealer launch of the Mazda3.

"Is that (MX-Micro Sport) a possibility for us? Yes it is," confirmed Mazda Australia managing director Malcolm Gough this week.

"We are looking at it, but we haven’t made a final decision." The MX-Micro Sport (that won’t be its production name) was shown at Detroit fitted with a 2.0-litre MZR four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, plus the usual show adornments like big (in this case 17-inch) wheels and a bodykit.

But the production car that debuts in Japan will probably have a 1.5 or 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, smaller wheels and more conservative presentation.

But the fundamental looks will be unchanged. And those looks are noticeable for breaking the recent mould of Mazda design, a move that Mazda’s chief designer Moray Callum has said would happen with niche models.

Mr Gough hinted the different styling could be a key reason for the car coming here.

"It gives you a little bit of something else to talk about and then not every member of the public thinks the Mazda2 is the bees knees," he said.

Compared to the production Mazda2, the concept MX is 55mm longer, 75mm wider and 10mm higher.

The introduction of the Mazda3 opens a tiny gap in Mazda’s pricing. The 3 starts at $21,490, where the 323 was $19,990. The Mazda2 range stretches from $18,490 for the manual Neo to $23,915 for the Genki auto.

"It’s probably … another opportunity from our point of view at the top-end," said Mr Gough.

One problem for the Australians would be what to call it – Mazda2.5? In Japan that won’t be an issue because they use names, while in the US – if it goes there – the Mazda2 is not for sale.

* Mazda will display the Mazda6 MPS at the Brisbane and Melbourne motor shows in the coming weeks. The turbocharged concept, first shown at the Paris motor show in 2002, previews a production car that should be launched early in 2005.

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