Since Jan 2015, all variants in the 2015 Mazda 3 range have either been received lower prices or granted extra standard features, as the Japanese brands decided to be more aggressive this year.
Price cuts of average $850, applied to all of Mazda variants from the second tier Maxx to up, while its entry based model Neo gained $1200 worth of features while maintaining its price.
By the rate & spec from May 2015, Mazda Neo (Base model) comes with rear parking sensors, Reverse Camera (with smart mirror) and Bluetooth - It doesn't come with Touch infotainment system like upper tier models does, but comes with decent price of $22,490 for auto (without on-road costs).
As fuel rate is somewhat again going to a gloomy days, customers eyes and wallets are aiming for economical small-mid sized cars with 6.5 ~ 8L /100kms and Mazda and Toyota have been in that game for a long time - great fuel economy while well equipped & performance.
However, from 2013, Mazda was going downside, although showed dominance in car sales rate till now (and still does), the figures were slowly got caught by Toyota and Hyundai.
Not to mention Holden's raid with equipped Cruze, 6" Touch infotainment system for every single variant, even base models grabbed lots of Australians back to Holden's carpet from Japanese / Korean vehicles, while it's forever main competitor Ford was in groggy mode from not-that-welcomed EcoBoost Falcons and less equipped Fiesta & Focus.
Yet Mazda somewhat adopted similar design to new Mercedes, using dash-top display and simplified audio commander - try to benchmark luxury brand to rebuil the simple but elegance interior, while focused on making 'sporty' exterior. - And It gained a big applause from customers.
Due to mobile technology's advance, as long as the car comes with bluetooth and charger socket available (not talking about ciggerjack, literally a USB socket that poweres phone) people could use their phones to stream the music or use navigation, just like others do.
And those 'high valued' accessories like Sat Nav, leather seats etc were almost standard from second tier Maxx and Mazda 3 soon gained title of well equipped and affordable car for young adults
So ultimately, and according to Mazda's prediction, even if some of their cars don't have any entertainment feautres, people will love it as it's cheap, solid performance and got base features related to mobile phone.
Yet It went pretty horribly wrong.
On 11th of Feb 2015, Managing Director of Mazda Australia, Martin Benders announced that Rear parking sensors will become as a standard features across all Mazda 3 range as a part of pricing and spec update, which was good because it's definitely better than nothing for sure.
However, It went rockbottom after that.
From the questions of why Mazda 3 didn't think of put Reverse Camera on base Neo model, along with color touch audio display or at least those smart 4.3" LCD Rear view Mirror, instead of they replied with some reasonable opinions, :
Interior of Mazda 3 Neo 2015 - No Color Screen, No Touch Display and No Reverse Camera.
“I don’t see the driveway as being a place where kids should be walking around in the first place,” Benders started.
“I expect that people who drive cars take care and attention about how they drive their cars. Reversing cameras are not infallible, they’re more an aid, but so are reverse parking sensors, they will pick up obstacles in a similar way. It’s like a lot of the safety equipment in there, it’s there as an aid. It doesn’t take away the driver’s responsibility to take care and attention.
“If we think that that’s what we need to do then we’ve got a real problem because I think I’ve made the comment before, but we’ve become so focused on giving [people] too much assistance that we’re actually taking their mind off actually paying attention to the way they drive.
“We’ve just got to be careful about all that.”
He also said that the decision was backed up by only few Neo customers demanded Reverse camera, saying It proves that Reverse Camera isn't essential feature at all hence there wasn't any necessity of putting Reverse Camera as a standard feature for all variants.
Although Benders has some point - that by technology and all those park assist features, drivers thesedays are somewhat too relaxed and paying less care about road safety due to system does everything for the alert. Also for absolute safety measure, drivers still need to use those side / rear mirros to ensure safety while reversing.
Not to mention Mazda isn't obligated to include Reverse Camera on their all vehicles, even though US has been doing that for last 2 years, - well we aren't in States.
Yet some feedback from current Mazda 3 Neo owners wasn't that pleased & they barely can agree Benders points.
Mazda 3, either sedan or hatch has high bootline and low sloping roof, this makes rearview & measure when reversing without camera to somewhat hard. Compare to old cars, today's vehicles definietly have poor rear visibility, but Mazda 3 is somewhat below that, making camera more essential.
Mazda 3's Neo is probably the most popular car among other variants, It takes 20% of whole sale figures among Mazda 3 and It recorded approximately 8600 vehicles last year, as mentioned above, It's a cheap to purchase & maintain.
But consider the feature equippment battle in the market gets more aggressive, with Benders comments & his attitude might have not been the best answers they could come up with.
Since others are empowering the game with their well-equipped small-mid sized cars, the game will get tougher to beat, but hey - there are lots of base models in same situation as Mazda 3 Neo.
Meanwhile, there are also upgrade systems already available from aftermarket - granting audio screens, Navigation, touch multimedia system and everything.
Mazda 3 8" Audio Upgrade Kit - OEM style developed by Aftermarket.
If you own a Neo and pretty devastated with the features of Neo has, possibly you can look up for something like this.
When It comes to upgrade base model with variety of option features - we can guarantee, not as a aftermarket industry but as a customer to dealership just like you - the dealership will be the first one to give you the useless answers like -
"Why not upgrade to the upper tier?" or "Well we don't have that feature for this vehicle, but It's a well made car."
Well, the conclusion will be:
Mazda has a point with Neo not having Reverse Camera, and only few customers requested in past.
But the question is, will it be same for the future? and will the other customers will accept that?