A SMALLER, smarter, diesel-powered seven-seat Mazda will hit dealerships on July 1 with a starting price of $42,900 before on-road costs.
The CX-8 is physically smaller - 175mm shorter than 129mm slimmer - than its CX-9 petrol-propelled sibling but is priced comparably to the existing big Mazda SUV.
Much of that price difference is due to the fact diesel-engined vehicles are typically $3000 dearer than their regular counterparts but Mazda Australia also says the CX-8 will typify the company's move into "mainstream premium".
Think a top-spec version with nappa leather, real wood, brushed alloy and a head-up display that projects directly onto the windscreen rather than on to a plastic screen that pops up behind the steering column. An eight-inch infotainment screen, smartphone mirroring and satnav is also expected to be default items across the range.
The entry vehicle will be a Sport-badged front-wheel -drive version. The price jumps by $4000 for an all-wheel-drive equivalent, though Mazda won't yet talk about specification levels.
There's no indication whether the step up to AWD - and extra fuel use for carrying the extra weight of off-road underpinnings - will be accompanied by extra gear.
At the top of the tree is the CX-8 Asaki which will start at $61,490 before on-road costs.
The only engine confirmed for now is the 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel matched to a six-speed automatic. That drivetrain is already used to good effect in the mid-sized CX-5 SUV.
Mazda says all versions will be equipped with "a wide range of safety technologies". As such, expect standard autonomous emergency braking, cruise control and reversing camera.
Cargo capacity will be a svelte 239 litres with the third row seats up, expanding to 572 litres when the back seats are stowed. That's less than the CX-9 but bigger than the mid-sized CX-5 SUV on which the CX-8 is based.
Mazda Australia managing director, Vinesh Bhindi, says the CX-8 will evolve the company's push into "mainstream premium"
"Brand-New Mazda CX-8 shares the uncompromising quality, style, comfort and safety features that customers know and expect of a Mazda," he notes.
"This, paired with the efficiency and economy of the most advanced diesel engine on offer, makes the Mazda CX-8 an enticing proposition for Australians needing an added level of versatility."