Diesel just CX-8 starter?

Mazda will have a second seven-seater sports utility here this year. Is the  CX-8 set to solely be sold in diesel form?

EVER-strengthening customer preference for petrol over diesel in medium sports utility models is likely to see Mazda here ask head office about the potential for more than one engine type with an impending model.

The CX-8, a seven-seater that places above the CX-5 and below the CX-9 on the sizing scale, is likely to come on sale here in June or soon after.

Set to have a role here as a rival for the seven-seat versions of the Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V and soon-to-land Volkswagen Tiguan – plus, also, the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe -  the CX-8 only went on sale in Japan last month.

The model is drawn off the CX-5 platform and is likely to present as good alternate for those customers who find the physically larger CX-9 too daunting.

Interestingly, it presently only offers with one of the CX-5’s powertrains, the 2.2-litre SkyActiv turbodiesel, though in more powerful state.

This unit generates 140kW and 450Nm in the CX-8 – an 11kW and 30Nm lift over the outputs cited for the CX-5. It is also hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. In New Zealand, the CX-5 diesel is purely all-wheel-drive.

When CX-5 released in mid-2017, Mazda NZ made a point of commenting that it thought the diesel powertrain would be less favoured going forward that it had been in the first-generation CX-5, due to changing customer preferences.

The distaste for Road User Charges and awareness that modern petrol engines are now almost diesel-like in efficiency is driving the change. The latter trait is certainly a strength of the brand’s own SkyActiv 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrols, which are continuing in the second-gen CX-5 and, according to latest sales stats, both seem to be outselling the diesel by some margin.

The CX-5 is the only current CX offered with diesel. The CX-9 was designed to be petrol-only, to accommodate tastes in North America where it is built (this being the car’s key market) while the CX-3 diesel was dropped last year, due to poor take-up.

Mazda Japan has not indicated why it chose to launch the CX-8 in diesel only and has not offered any comment about whether petrols will follow.

While Mazda NZ has also not commented, the brand’s distributor in Australia has spoken out, suggesting other engines are on the way. Talk at a media briefing about the car last week ventured toward petrol and hybrid possibilities, but nothing was confirmed.

One impetus for CX-8 being created is because CX-9 is not sold in Japan, because it is considered too big for that market. Another is that it will likely fulfil a slightly different function, being more akin to being a crossover rather than a fully-fledged sports utility.

The CX-8 is 4900mm long, 1840mm wide and 1730mm tall, compared with the CX-9 at 5075mm, 1969mm and 1747mm. The rear-most seat row is said to accommodate people up to 170cm tall. With that seat up, boot space is 239 litres, but with it stowed, the capacity grows to 572 litres.

Mazda has had a similar car to this in the past – the Premacy was here for some years and discontinued production in 2015.