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Mercedes SLC launch may worsen MX-5 sales dip

Mazda MX-5


Price: £27,165

Engines: 2.0-litre petrol, 161PS

Performance: 0-62mph 7.4secs, top speed 134mph

Transmission: 6sp manual

Fuel effiiciency: 40.9mpg

Emissions: 161g/km CO2

Start mileage: 870

Current mileage: 1,630



First-quarter registrations of the MX-5 were down 1.1% year-on-year, at 1,556, of which 1,118 were retail orders.

In Q2, Mazda has put a £500 deposit contribution behind its 37-month PCP on 3.9% APR, which keeps monthly payments at £299 if the buyer can put down a £2,451 deposit for the entry-level 1.5-litre SE MX-5 soft-top.

However, it is being less generous with the more premium RF, which it introduced just three months ago. For a similarly powered RF in SE-L trim, with its electrically folding hard-top, there is no deposit contribution and the PCP is at 5.9% APR. Clearly Mazda and its dealers have identified a better profit opportunity while the RF is fresh. But the more premium two-seater needs a more premium customer; one who is able to put down a £3,060 deposit and afford £389 per month.

The Mercedes-Benz SLC may give Mazda dealers a headache this summer, however. A new entry-level SLC 180 is being launched this June and aims to steal some of its glory, even though it is far more expensive than our MX-5 RF, at £32,039.

Mercedes can subvent the overall cost to the customer, and it claims that because the SLC has stronger residual values it will be able to market the rival on a PCP with lower monthly payments. To shift stock of its previous cheapest convertible, the SLC200, Mercedes is currently offering a £6,158 discount if buyers sign a £299 monthly PCP and pay a £4,999 deposit.

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