CX-8 on the radar

The diesel seven-seater Mazda wants

TOBY HAGON

MAZDA’S SUV family is set to expand with the 2018 arrival of the CX-8. While the backroom wrangling isn’t quite a done deal, Wheels has learned Mazda Australia is confident the CX-8 will form a part of the growing model line-up for the brand that has muscled its way into second position on the sales charts.

To be powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, the CX-8 will finally give Mazda a diesel sevenseater as a more fuel-efficient alternative to the petrol-only CX-9.

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 17mm lower.

Despite the smaller dimensions for the model set to go on sale in Japan later this year, Mazda’s global president and CEO Masamichi Kogai claims “even adults can sit comfortably in the third row.” The CX-8 will be offered with a six-seater configuration featuring second-row captain’s chairs as well as a more conventional 2-3-2 seven-seat layout.

That’s crucial to the CX-8’s Japanese sales pitch, where the CX-9 isn’t sold. In Japan, CX-8 will effectively replace the MPV people mover that was recently discontinued.

Recently appointed Mazda Australia managing director, Vinesh Bhindi, made a point of mentioning the CX-8 at a recent media gathering. While he said it was, for now, a Japanese domestic-market model, he left the door wide open for its sale in Australia.

“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?’’ Bhindi said.

Those comments are in stark contrast to those made by Mazda Australia executives when the China-only CX-4 was revealed, where the top brass immediately shut down the chances of that car coming here.

SIZE MATTERS

Dimensions (mm) CX-5 CX-8 CX-9 Length 4550 4900 5075 Width 1840 1840 1969 Height 1675 1730 1747 Wheelbase 2700 2930 2930

The Mazda SUV family

CX-3 CX-3 Smallest of the small SUVs but a winning formula thanks to sharp pricing and styling.

CX-4 CX-4 CX-5-based China-only model that Australia would love, but it won’t be made available.

CX-5 CX-5 Second-gen arrived in 2016 and continues its top-selling SUV ways.

CX-8 CX-8 MPV replacement for Japan.

Also set to arrive in Australia as a diesel alternative to CX-9.

CX-9 CX-9 Made-for-America sevenseater all about space; also our reigning COTY winner.