“This car is now available for the Australian market,” a Mazda spokeswoman told Wheels. “We will be reviewing whether or not we will be taking this up over the coming months.”
Speculation has swirled that the Japan-only CX-8 – first deliveries will head out of showrooms in December – could make its way here to fill a gap in Mazda’s showroom, sitting in between the mid-size CX-5 and the larger CX-9. Built on a modified CX-5 platform, it has either six or seven seats – the six-seat version has captain’s chairs for the second row – it also has something the larger CX-9 doesn’t; a frugal diesel diet.
The CX-8‘s 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine uses Mazda’s latest Skyactiv fuel-saving technology to up its performance to 140kW and 450Nm, compared with 129kW and 420Nm for the four-pot diesel’s previous tune. In Australia, the CX-9 is fitted with a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
The CX-8 is billed as the range-topping SUV in Mazda’s Japanese domestic market, where the CX-9 is not sold.
The fastback SUV also has a more performance-honed suspension tune, with a rebound spring on the front dampers helping to enhance cornering ability. The CX-8 also gains beefier brakes compared with the CX-5, with 432mm ventilated discs up front and a larger master cylinder helping to improve stopping performance.
At 4900mm long, the CX-8 is 175mm shorter than the CX-9, yet shares that model’s 2930mm wheelbase. However, dimensions released in a short Japanese media statement reveal the CX-8 will be 129mm narrower than the CX-9, making it the same width as a CX-5, and with a roofline that sits 17mm lower.
Mazda says it will build about 1200 of the CX-8 large SUVs a year for the right-hand-drive Japanese domestic market.
Mazda Australia has been keen to add the CX-8 to its showroom ever since the car was revealed earlier this year as a “new people-moving option for customers who want to enjoy outings with family and friends but don't want to sacrifice design or driving performance”.
“If there was ever to be an ADR [Australian Design Rule] 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 models we have on offer here?’’’ Mazda Australia managing director, Vinesh Bhindi said recently.
The sharply styled CX-8 is not the only fastback SUV in Mazda’s expanding showroom. Last year, the Japanese car maker unveiled the China-only CX-4, a cut-down coupe-like version of its CX-5 mid-size SUV. Again, Mazda Australia has shown some interest in bringing the more design-driven, smaller version of the CX-5 here.