Why Mazda Australia’s flagship SUV was the right car at the wrong time

Posted on June 28, 2024Comments Off on Why Mazda Australia’s flagship SUV was the right car at the wrong time

Mazda’s CX-90 has been falling short of sales expectations, but the brand expects things to pick up for its most expensive SUV yet.

“A few things conspired against us, which meant it’s taken a bit longer to establish than we would like,” Alastair Doak, national marketing manager for Mazda Australia, told CarExpert.

“We picked a pretty good time to launch a more expensive product, with the economy and all those sorts of things,” he joked.

At its launch in August 2023, Mazda said it expected the CX-90 to sell in lower volumes than its outgoing CX-9 flagship but predicted it would sell at least 100 CX-90s per month – around a fifth of the CX-9’s monthly volume prior to its discontinuation.

“CX-90 is probably around the 100, 125, 150 range [per month], and again we can do more,” said Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi at the time.

That would put annual volumes at between 1200 and 1800 units.

But while it reached those targets in its first few months on sale, the CX-90 has lost some steam.

From January to May it has averaged 72 monthly sales, which would put it on track to fall short of 1000 units this year.

“We moved into a new price band for that vehicle with a new nameplate, so it always takes a bit of time to establish yourself in the market,” said Mr Doak.

“But we’re pretty happy with its performance, and we understand there’s more potential there.”

Mazda thinks the introduction of even more SUVs could actually help the CX-90.

“Hopefully, with the focus on introducing the CX-70 and CX-80, there’s a halo effect from that new model activity and it pulls people into dealerships to look at a CX-80 and they think, ‘Well, actually, there’s a CX-90 there as well’, I’m sure they’ll have the conversation,” said Mr Doak.

By the end of the year, Mazda will have introduced all four of its new, more upmarket Large Architecture SUVs in Australia, making our market the only one in the world to have all four products.

The CX-90 will sit atop this fray, but face internal competition from the new CX-70 and CX-80.

The former is essentially a two-row version of the CX-90 with almost identical styling, while the CX-80 offers three rows of seats but a narrower body and almost certainly a lower price.

The CX-90 is quite a bit more expensive than the CX-9 it replaces at the top of the Mazda lineup.

The CX-9 was offered with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, with pricing ranging from $47,600 to $74,400 before on-road costs.

Mazda’s new flagship, however, ranges from $74,550 to $100,015 before on-roads, pulling it away from mass-market three-row crossovers like the Toyota Kluger and towards premium fare like the Volvo XC90.

While the CX-9 offered a single turbocharged four-cylinder engine, however, the CX-90 offers a choice of turbo-diesel and turbo-petrol inline six-cylinder engines – something you’re more likely to see in a BMW than a Toyota.

Mazda CX-90 sales figures

Month Sales
July 2023 17
August 2023 153
September 2023 101
October 2023 123
November 2023 131
December 2023 78
January 2024 86
February 2024 50
March 2024 67
April 2024 65
May 2024 93

MORE: Everything Mazda CX-90