Mazda is set to expand its range of SUVs with a newly announced CX-8 crossover - however at this stage the new three-row model is to be confined to Japan only.
Available with either six or seven seats, depending on how it’s configured, the CX-8 will be Mazda’s first three row SUV for the Japanese market when it goes on sale later this year, where the larger CX-9 isn’t offered.
Although wider export opportunities are off the table for now, that position may change with Mazda Australia interested in a seven-seat version of the CX-5 to take on the likes of the Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq.
Mazda has revealed just a single image of the interior in six-seat guise, which shows a longer cabin compared with the CX-5, with the added length particularly obvious in the longer quarter panel windows, making space for the third row of seats possible.
Just one engine has been confirmed, with Mazda detailing a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, and though outputs haven’t been disclosed something similar to the CX-5’s 129kW and 420Nm is likely. A six speed automatic is the only transmission announced so far.
Measurements provided by Mazda indicate the CX-8 will be significantly longer than the CX-5, measuring 350mm more in overall length and riding on a wheelbase that has been extended by 230mm to create a more spacious interior.
That wheelbase measurement is the same as the larger CX-9, but nose to tail the CX-8 is 175mm shorter, and width matches that of the CX-5, making it 129mm narrower than the CX-9.
"Our latest offering, the CX-8 is a new crossover SUV for people who appreciate quality and need a car that seats more than five," said Mazda president and CEO, Masamichi Kogai said.
"It has the looks, performance and high-end feel customers expect from a Mazda, and even adults can sit comfortably in the third row. Mazda aims to create a strong emotional connection with customers, and we will achieve this by continually advancing our lineup to offer all customers our unique combination of driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance."
While the car may only be for Japan at present the popularity of SUVs in Australia, coupled with Mazda Australia's strong position locally, makes it highly probable that the CX-8 will eventually be offered alongside the CX-5 and CX-9 in Australian showrooms, although that decision may wait until the engine lineup is expanded to include petrol variants.
A spokesperson from Mazda Australia told TMR "We're interested in it and we'll look at it if it becomes available," when asked about the CX-8’s local likelihood. The CX-8 will go on sale in Japan before the end of 2017.
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