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Hot Mazda CX-5 MPS in pipeline

By Byron Mathioudakis, 31 Mar 2017 News

2017 Mazda CX-5

No confirmation as yet, but Australia’s bestselling SUV is set for a sports makeover come facelift time – if Mazda Oz has its way

A HIGH-PERFORMANCE version of the latest Mazda CX-5 is believed to be under consideration, especially if the local arm has its way, to take on the established Volkswagen Golf GTi-engined Tiguan in the booming medium SUV segment.


Though nobody at Mazda is confirming anything right now, it is understood that engineers at the Hiroshima HQ have been toying with a variation of the 2.5-litre four-pot turbo fitted to the current Mazda CX-9 seven-seater.


That’s the good news; the bad news is that should a circa-170kW/420Nm CX-5 Turbo – likely with AWD ­– materialise, it probably won’t happen before 2019, according to one Mazda insider, since such a move would be timed to coincide with a mid-cycle refresh to help maintain interest in the series.


When asked whether such an experimental CX-5 in MPS (for Mazda Performance Series) or Mazdaspeed (as the company’s in-house sports division is known abroad) guise is in the pipeline, Mazda USA chassis maestro, Dave Coleman, suggested that such a beast has not escaped his team’s attention.


“We are not blind to that combination,” he told Wheels at the North American launch of the KF-series CX-5 in San Diego a few weeks ago.


Mazda Australia’s marketing director, Alastair Doak, added that the local outfit has been pushing for just such a high-po CX-5 for years now.


“It’s no secret we’d like to get our hands on something like a CX-5 MPS,” he admitted. “And we’re pushing hard to get it… but there is nothing in the short term.”


We understand that adaptive dampers are also under development for the SUV hotshot, to counter the firmer suspension, lower ride height and 20-inch-plus alloy wheels that would invariably be part and parcel of an MPS package.


Finally, also hinting strongly at the possibility of an MPS/Mazdaspeed in the medium SUV’s future, CX-5 program manager, Masaya Kodama, said that any such sports model that Mazda plans from here-on in would also have to be applied to all of the company’s offerings, from the 2 up to the CX-9 potentially, to help amortise the investment in relaunching the sports sub-brand.


“There might be a sports model like Mazdaspeed,” he revealed. “However if we do a Mazdaspeed, it must be for the full line-up, including the Demio (2) and Axela (3). And it must be in line with the brand DNA. Currently we have no clear plans.


“But personally I want to!”


Mazdaspeed first saw the light of day way back in 1967 as the Mazda Sports Corner, an external tuner of Mazda cars based in Japan, with the name change occurring in 1983.


The original (GG series) 6 sedan launched the MPS sub-brand in Oz back in 2005, brandishing a hot 190kW/380Nm 2.3-litre direct-injection four-pot turbo, driving all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. The wayward front-drive 3 MPS followed in July 2006, and continued into the next-gen version until the current small car surfaced without a hot-hatch iteration, sadly, in early 2014.


Please, Mazda Australia, fight the good fight!