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Mazda3 smartens up to catch Corolla

Best of 3: Mazda is aiming high with the next Mazda3 hoping for continued strong sales while also attracting more fleet buyers.

Style, technology and user-choosers are key to Mazda’s small-car ambitions

27 Jun 2013

ADVANCED design, perceived quality and media connectivity are all central to the next Mazda3’s plans for market domination, the Japanese car-maker says.

However, the new Mazda3 would have to broaden its appeal beyond those loyal to the brand, and sway user-chooser fleet buyers who previously may have considered more premium alternatives such as Volkswagen’s Golf, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said.

“The product concept for this car was developed with two main aims,” he said at the Mazda3’s global unveiling in Melbourne.

“Firstly, our designers were driven with the desire to create a car with a real stunning first impression — one that delivers that wow factor — and when you get inside the car its interior design and quality fully back up what you see on the outside.

“And secondly they sought to deliver a compact car that could build on the success of the two previous generations Mazda3.”

The all-new Mazda3 now fully adopts the car-maker’s advanced SkyActiv architecture and technology that save fuel and add to driveability.

This gives it a stronger first impression with conquest as well as existing customers, and is deemed vital in the upcoming model’s joust with the revitalised Toyota Corolla.

While the outgoing BL-series Mazda3 has dominated sales over the last two years, this year it holds only a 16.7 per cent slice of the small-car market, compared with Corolla’s 17.1 per cent share.

Mr Benders said while it was always a challenge to lift market share in private sales, there were real company car opportunities with user-choosers.

“We have to start looking at where our business model can take us,” he said.

“We’re not really fleet-focussed other than with the BT-50, in which case we can’t avoid it, and so if you look at the private buyers our share is already at 12 or 13 per cent.

“So there’s a whole growing army of available user-chooser people. They’ve got their own choice, so how do we get more of those people? How can we play in that market.”

According to Mr Benders, the new Mazda3’s job is clear-cut.

“We’re quietly confident we will reclaim the crown next year with this car – if we do lose it (this year).

“(It must) build a deeper connection with our loyal fan base. Since the launch of the first-generation Mazda3 in 2003 it has consistently exceeded customer expectations, setting a high standard in the small-car segment.

“This car further exceeds expectations … not only with fans but with new customers.”

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