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Official: Mazda’s Minagi to morph into CX-5

High five for Minagi: Mazda has confirmed its compact Geneva show SUV concept (left) will wear the CX-5 badge (below).

CX-5 nameplate confirmed for production version of Mazda’s Minagi concept

Mazda logo18 Apr 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

MAZDA has surprised nobody by officially confirming its striking Minagi concept will wear the CX-5 nameplate when it goes on sale globally, including in Australia, next year.

The first production model to be styled under Mazda’s new ‘Kodo’ design language, as previewed by last year’s sleek Shinari sportscar concept, the Minagi made its world premiere at Geneva last month and will make its North American debut at the New York show on April 20.

Mazda has confirmed the production-ready CX-5, which GoAuto understands will be similar to the muscular Minagi, will make its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show this September, before joining the mid-size CX-7 and seven-seat CX-9 in Mazda’s SUV model family in 2012.

However, the all-new Minagi-based CX-5 is expected to replace the larger CX-7 five-seater in Australia, where CX-7 sales has slowed by 8.5 per cent in a compact SUV segment that is up 9.6 per cent so far this year.

22 center imageThat said, the four-year-old CX-7, which was released in Australia in December 2006, still commands 7.8 per cent of the booming small SUV sector, in which it lies sixth behind the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai ix35, Nissan X-Trail and Nissan Dualis.

Spurred by an early mid-life facelift that brought a new look plus a 2.5-litre non-turbo front-wheel drive entry-level model and a long-awaited 2.2-litre turbo-diesel option in late 2009, the CX-7 was Australia’s fourth-best-selling compact SUV in 2010, when it racked up 9530 sales – up 115 per cent over 2009 – in Australia’s fastest-growing vehicle segment.

While this year’s upgraded Mazda3 small car will debut the company’s ground-breaking new SkyActiv-G direct-injection petrol engine in Australia, the 2012 CX-7 should be the first all-new Mazda model to combine the full suite of SkyActiv engine and chassis technologies.

Riding on a variation of the all-new platform that will underpin the redesigned 2013 Mazda6, the CX-5 should also benefit from a 14 per cent reduction in chassis weight and an eight per cent reduction in body mass.

Meantime, Mazda’s SkyActiv-G petrol engine is claimed to be 15 per cent more efficient than the current 2.2-litre diesel, while the SkyActiv-D diesel is said to be 20 per cent better.

Expect both new petrol and diesel engines in the CX-5 to be matched with Mazda’s upgraded SkyActiv-MT manual transmission, but it remains to be seen whether the CX-5 diesel will also be available with the company’s new SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

Before the CX-5 arrives next year, Mazda will launch its redesigned Australian-engineered BT-50 ute in the third quarter of this year.

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