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Future models - Mazda - CX-4

Frankfurt show: Mazda3 owners, your SUV is ready

From 3 to 4: Mazda is aiming to appeal to Mazda3 customers who want something bigger but not so boxy as a conventional SUV wagon.

Keeping Mazda3 owners in the family is aim of upcoming sporty CX-4

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Mazda logo16 Sep 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

THE Mazda CX-4 crossover vehicle that will arise from the Koeru concept at the Frankfurt motor show is primarily aimed at the company’s own Mazda3 five-door hatchback customers.

The Japanese car-maker's managing executive officer for sales and marketing Masahiro Moro said the design had arisen from research showing Mazda3 owners wanted something sportier than the CX-5 wagon and bigger than CX-3 crossover when they decided shift up into the SUV ranks.

“These customers told us they were still seeking a new solution – a body style solution,” he said.

Mr Moro said CX-5 had been successful with families that want the practicality of a conventional SUV, while CX-3 had been a hit with young couples.

He said Mazda was heavily reliant on Mazda3 around the world, and it wanted to keep them in the Mazda fold by giving them a logical step into a crossover vehicle with the space and luggage capacity they needed but in a body style they were attracted to.

Although the vehicle sits on the same SkyActiv base as the CX-5 with an identical 2700mm wheelbase, the execution is undeniably sportier, with a much lower roof-line that, in Koeru at least, is 210mm below that of CX-5.

The vehicle’s designer, Iwao Koizumi, told Australia journalists the chopped roof-line would be raised somewhat for production, to create more practical headroom, but that the vehicle would remain both sporty and premium-looking.

“The challenge for us is not to lose the vitality of life while making it more premium,” he told Australian journalists at the Frankfurt show.

The Koeru concept looks production ready, but it is not – it is purely a show vehicle on which the doors don’t open.

No interior was on display, but Mr Koizumi said the cabin concept had been based on the idea of a capsule, with a feel that was “almost aeronautical”, he said.

Like CX-5, the CX-4 will be a five-seater. The company assures us that no seven-seater is being planned to slot in between CX-5 and CX-9 as a latter day CX-7.

At 60mm wider and 60mm longer than CX-5, it has a squat but sophisticated look that without doubt achieves Mazda's “more premium” goal.

Mr Koizumi intimated that the vehicle was Mazda’s way of instilling sportiness in its SUV range without resorting to the slope-backed coupe-style crossover design best represented by the BMW X6, about which he was scathing.

“I don’t think it looks good,” he said.

Mr Koizumi said some elements of the latest Kodo design language direction seen on Koeru – which means ‘exceed’ in Japanese – would be apparent on the up-coming CX-9 that will make its debut at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

However, like CX-5, the CX-9 is expected to be a more conventional, boxy SUV – albeit a premium-looking one – than the sporty CX-4.

No powertrain details or performance figures were given for the Koeru/CX-4, but Mr Moro said the vehicle could take the same selection of SkyActiv engines and transmissions as other mid-sized Mazda vehicles.

Unlike German rivals, Mazda says it is not planning to slot other such sporty crossover vehicles into its ‘CX’ line up.

Mr Moro said Mazda wanted to keep the crossover range tight and to avoid model proliferation.

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