For too long, Mazda lived in the increasingly large shadow Ford had cast over the South African automotive landscape. The Japanese company suffered under their joint agreement, as the American brand’s resurgence garnered the lion share of media and consumer attention. It appeared there was little in the way of marketing budget to boast about the cars Mazda had. And there were some good ones. The CX-5 was – and remains – an excellent compact SUV.
Following a global split in 2010, it took a further four years for the separation to be finalised here and, since October 2014, when Mazda South Africa started operating independently, it has made very impressive strides in forging its own strategic direction. Under new managing director, the canny David Hughes, those strides have gained further momentum, but such a surge can only gain lasting traction through quality products. And here Mazda has delivered, introducing several well-received new models such as the 6, 3, and 2, the grin-inducing MX-5 and the CX-3 crossover to join its bigger CX-5 sibling.
With this raft of well-engineered and competitively priced new models has come well-deserved commercial success, seeing Mazda buck the flat market to almost double its sales from 2014 to 2015 and increase its local market share from 0,6% to 1,9%.
*Article appears in the 2016 March issue of CAR Magazine.