This is the new Mazda CX-50, a midsized SUV designed to compete with cars like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. If that sounds very much like the remit of the CX-5, it is, but Hiroshima’s latest model isn’t replacing its stalwart crossover – at least, not yet.
Revealed ahead of tomorrow’s Los Angeles Auto Show, the CX-50 differs from the CX-5 in that it’s been built from the ground up for the North American market – so don’t hold your breath for it to arrive here anytime soon. It appears to be slightly larger, meaning that it should offer more interior space than its cramped sibling and stand up better to comparisons with its rivals.
The CX-50 sports a boxier, more rugged version of Mazda’s Kodo design language with chunky flared fenders, squared-off wheel arches and lots of black plastic body cladding. The front end is more angular than past models but continues to wear a large grille and sharp headlights (here with black plastic frames), plus vertical corner air inlets and a slim horizontal strip with integrated accent lighting.
The theme is continued at the rear with the large (likely fake) vents and two-piece taillights. Mazda says that the roof rails, B-pillars and door jambs have been strengthened to enable the storing of items on top of the CX-50, adding to the car’s rough-and-tumble nature. A new Zircon Sand paint option has been added.
Inside, Mazda’s typical clean horizontal dashboard design has been accented with vertical air vents, including two on either side of the instrument cluster. Not much has been made available in the way of details, but there’s the usual freestanding infotainment screen and a digital instrument display sandwiched between two analogue dials.
Mazda also says that the seats feature blended materials inspired by outdoor gear, while the boot – a sore point for most Mazdas – has been designed to “help support and enable outdoor activities.” A new terracotta interior colour option is available, along with a panoramic sunroof – a first for the brand, apparently.
Technical details remain scarce, but reports say that the CX-50 is based on the same Skyactiv-Vechicle Architecture as the Mazda 3 and CX-30. Whether or not it will ride on the same torsion beam rear suspension as those cars remains to be seen, but Mazda has confirmed it will get standard all-wheel drive and Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) with off-road-specific modes.
Also compared are 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated and turbocharged Skyactiv-G petrol engines mated to a standard six-speed automatic gearbox. Outputs remain unknown but expect them to be similar to the 3 and CX-30 – 186 hp and 252 Nm of torque for the NA mill and 227 hp and 420 Nm for the turbo. A hybrid powertrain – tipped to be derived from joint venture partner Toyota – will also be made available later.
Production of the CX-50 will begin in January at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) plant in Huntsville, Alabama. The car will be the first Mazda model to be built at the facility, which also churns out the smaller Toyota Corolla Cross for the region. The CX-50 is the first of a new range of Mazda SUVs, which will also include the CX-60, CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 built on a new rear-wheel-drive platform.
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