Why Is No One Buying The New Mazda3?

Sales / Comments

We know the CX-5 is great, but come on.

Explaining new car sales can be tricky sometimes but there are certain times when the data should be pretty self-explanatory. When a car has been on the market for several years without a major refresh, sales will typically drop. Conversely, a car that was just redesigned should see an uptick in sales. So what the heck is happening with the 2020 Mazda3 sedan and 2020 Mazda3 hatchback?

Mazda's compact sedan and hatchback were all new for 2019 but if you look at the sales numbers for 2019, they are down a staggering 21.5 percent. The Japanese automaker just revealed its sales figures for January 2020, a month where 23,621 vehicles were delivered. This is a 17.8 percent increase compared to January of 2019 but the news still isn't good for the Mazda3.

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Of those 23,621 sales, the Mazda3 (in both sedan and hatchback form) only accounted for 2,496 of them. To put this in perspective, the CX-5 crossover (Mazda's best-seller) moved 12,908 units, which was an increase of 21.2 percent compared to 2019 even with no major changes for the 2020 model. Mazda3 sales have now plummeted by 45.7 percent compared to January 2019 when the model sold 4,596 units. It might be easy to explain that Mazda buyers simply prefer crossovers but even the Mazda6 sedan, which is now several years older than the Mazda3, saw an uptick of 8.4 percent for the month of January.

These Mazda3 sales are tough to explain because, by all accounts, it is a great car and one of the freshest models in Mazda's lineup. It debuted with sexy new styling, a premium interior, and the addition of all-wheel-drive for the first time ever. The Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza are now the only non-premium compact sedans to offer AWD, but perhaps shoppers who are looking for this feature have all migrated to crossovers.

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The all-new Mazda CX-30 managed to sell 2,368 units in January, topping the model's sales in all of 2019 when it sold 868 units (having just hit dealerships in December). Crossover sales could partially explain the drop in popularity but we think there is another issue holding the Mazda3 back - it needs a performance version.

Crossovers have taken over the mainstream market, that seems pretty obvious by now. But enthusiasts still prefer sedans and hatchbacks, so the Mazda3 just needs more power to appeal to those buyers. With 186 horsepower on tap, the Mazda3 isn't sluggish but we feel it needs a faster version with improved brakes and suspension. Even if such a model does not use the MazdaSpeed name, we think it could help draw a sub-section of buyers away from crossovers.

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