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Geneva show: Mazda Minagi set to spell end for CX-7

Seven ’ceder: The near-production Minagi is smaller than the CX-7 and, when it hits the market next year as the CX-5, will offer the full gamut of SkyActiv fuel-saving technologies.

Minagi concept to evolve into all-new '12 Mazda CX-5 at expense of larger CX-7

3 Mar 2011

By RON HAMMERTON in GENEVA

MAZDA’S Minagi compact SUV concept revealed at the Geneva motor show this week is likely to spell the end of the popular CX-7 in the Japanese manufacturer’s crossover vehicle range.

To be renamed CX-5 when it goes into production late this year ahead of an early-2012 rollout in Australia, the Toyota RAV4-sized SUV will become the Japanese brand’s new SUV range opener and the first of its new-generation products to embrace the complete range of SkyActiv technologies.

But Mazda product planners believe there is not enough room for a CX-7 between the new CX-5 and medium-sized CX-9, a situation that will lead to a product cull at some point after the CX-5 is bedded in.

The CX-7 has become a success story for Mazda in Australia, especially with the arrival last year of a more fuel-efficient diesel engine as part of a model upgrade. In 2010, it was Australia’s fourth-best-selling compact SUV, racking up 9530 sales – an increase of 115 per cent over 2009 – in Australia’s fastest-growing vehicle segment.

Although classed as a compact SUV, the CX-7 really straddles the compact and medium SUV segments, in a similar way to Holden’s Captiva – another big sales growth success story.

It has been a red-hot hit with Aussie families, but because it is regarded as too big in some markets, the new Mazda entrant has been scaled down a notch to compete head on with the likes of Subaru’s Forester, the RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V.

22 center imageBut the new vehicle will enter the market with all guns blazing, marking the debut of Mazda’s new SkyActiv architecture and SkyActiv powertrains all in one complete package.

The diesel and petrol engines are a marked step up on the current crop of engines, delivering improved fuel efficiency, better performance and lower emissions as Mazda attempts to cut CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2015.

Fuel efficiency is aided by a 14 per cent weight saving from the chassis and an eight per cent slice from the body mass.

The petrol engine is claimed to be 15 per cent more efficient than the current 2.2-litre diesel, while the SkyActiv diesel is said to be 20 per cent better.

The new engines will be matched to newly developed transmissions, also under the SkyActiv branding, and bolted into the SkyActiv body with SkyActiv chassis and SkyActiv safety systems.

The new flexible architecture is set to underpin all Mazda passenger models from now on, being capable of taking a broad range of vehicles for a wide range of applications.

The CX-5 will also mark the production debut of Mazda’s new ‘Kodo’ design language that was first revealed on the Shinari sportscar concept last year.

The Shinari also appeared on the Mazda stand at Geneva alongside the Minagi (CX-5), making a bold statement of styling intent for a company already known for its handsome shapes.

Sharp and muscular, the compact SUV gives an idea of how the Kodo lines will translate across the range, all the way from the baby Mazda2 to the CX-9.

Mazda insiders told GoAuto that the final CX-5 design will be close to the Minagi concept.

Like the CX-7, the CX-5 will get both diesel and petrol engines, although it remains to be seen if the CX-5 will get an optional automatic transmission on the diesel variant – a glaring omission on the CX-7.

The high levels of technology in the upcoming CX-5 are likely to put upward pressure on pricing, but its levels of sophistication should be sufficient for it to comfortably carry a price premium.

The CX-7 currently starts from $33,990 for the 2WD 2.5-litre petrol Classic, while the sole diesel model sells for $43,640.

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