Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, has confirmed that the recently teased six and seven seat Mazda CX-8 SUV won’t be seen in Australian showrooms.
Based on the new CX-5, the CX-8 rides on a longer wheelbase, matching the seven-seat CX-9 but with a shorter overall length and narrower width. Despite Australia's insatiable appetite for SUVs, Bhindi explained local buyers will miss out on the segment-straddling CX-8 for now.
Like the CX-4 SUV-coupe based on the previous CX-5 and produced exclusively for the Chinese market, the CX-8 will be restricted to Japan-only sales.
“I’d just like to confirm that CX-8 is being produced in Japan for the Japanese market only, very much like the CX-4, which is aimed at China only,” Bhini said at the launch of the updated CX-3 small SUV this week.
“There are no plans to introduce these SUVs to the Australian market. We have the five-seat Mazda CX-3 and CX-5 both doing very well, and our seven seat alternative, the brand new seven-seat Mazda CX-9, which is performing very strongly.”
The CX-8 is designed to take the place of the CX-9 in Japan, where the larger model isn’t sold because of taxation laws limiting vehicles over 1.8m in width, filling that market’s need for a seven seat alternative.
In Australia, seven-seat medium SUVs are still a market rarity with only the Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander providing seven-seat options in the Australian market, although both will be joined from the middle of the year by a seven-seat version of the upcoming Honda CR-V.
With the potential for incremental market growth, the CX-8 could provide an in-between option for buyers that would like the flexibility of extra seating without the sheer size of the large CX-9.
The CX-8’s diesel only-powertrain could potentially work against it in Australia where petrol engines lead medium SUV sales, but with no diesel option for CX-9 the CX-8 becomes a more viable proposition, and with that in mind Bhindi left the door open to adding the CX-8 to the local range down the track.
“If there was ever to be an ADR [Australian Design Rules compliant] version of CX-8 offered to Mazda Australia we would evaluate this opportunity and consider its viability in this market and actually ask ‘how does it fit amongst the other SUV products we have on offer here?’” Bhindi added.
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