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Mazda to expand SUV repertoire

Downsized: Mazda is understood to be considering a 'CX-3' SUV to slot in beneath the new CX-5 (pictured left).

More engines for CX-5 plus a proposed ‘CX-3’ to rival Ford’s coming EcoSport

Mazda logo27 Feb 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MAZDA is planning to massively increase its presence in the booming SUV market, with more engine variants of its CX-5 compact SUV set to be introduced over the next 18 months – and an all-new ‘CX-3’ micro-SUV also understood to be in the pipeline.

The new engines will include a 2.5-litre direct-injection normally aspirated version of the SkyActiv-G four-cylinder petrol engine launched this week in 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre guise in the CX-5, as well as the recently released Mazda3 SP20.

Developed primarily for the US market version of the CX-5, the still-secret 2.5 will be unveiled in the first quarter of next year, with Australian sales expected to follow soon after.

Whether Mazda Australia uses the larger-capacity four-cylinder across the CX-5 range, or chooses to instead reserve it only for the upmarket models like the Grand Touring, is not yet known.

Also destined for the all-new small SUV series is a smaller-capacity SkyActiv-D turbo-diesel to complement the new 129kW/420Nm 2.0-litre unit.

Devised with the European market in mind, this ultra-low-emission engine is believed to be of 1.5- or 1.6-litre capacity, enabling a special lightweight eco version of the CX-5 to slip beneath the 100 grams per kilometre carbon dioxide pollution threshold.

As Australia does not yet have a carbon tax-based registration or road tax system like those operating in Europe, the prospect of the smaller diesel-powered CX-5 landing on our shores is quite remote.

Meanwhile, Mazda is also considering a small urban SUV to take on the likes of the successful Nissan Juke, Suzuki SX4 and Holden’s forthcoming Barina-based Opel Mokka.

Designed mainly for European and South American markets where smaller vehicles are popular, as well as for emerging markets like India, the sub-CX-5 crossover is likely to be called the CX-3 if it gets the green light.

Not due until about 2015 at the earliest, it would likely be spun off the same platform that underpins the Ford EcoSport – the Indian-built light SUV based on the existing Fiesta/Mazda2 architecture.

Although Mazda has not confirmed the existence of such a project, it is believed that the booming B-segment baby crossover class in Europe is spurring the company’s product planners into action.

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