While crossovers have innate appeal in todayâs pragmatic times, suchÂ vehiclesÂ have pushedÂ other kinds of vehicles we really loveâsport wagons and true off-roaders, to name twoâto near extinction. But if all crossovers were as promising as Mazdaâs sexy new CX-4, which debuted at the Beijing auto show, we might not be so sore about it.
Essentially the mid-sized CX-5 with a bobbed tail, the CX-4 is strikingly good-looking, even if it breaks little actual design ground. The sheetmetal is styled according to Mazda’s current Kodo design language, so it echoes most current Mazdas. The predatory headlamps and shield-shaped grille evoke the 3 and the CX-9, while the side and rear windows appear to be scaled-up versions ofÂ the 3âs greenhouse, with the CX-4 getting an extra quarter window in the C-pillar. The rear window is long and quite flat, much of it shaded by a long rear spoiler cantilevering off the back. The rear bumper may be the beefiest in recent Mazda history, and the dramatic tack of the âtumblehomeâ (the slope of the greenhouse fromÂ the roof to the body sides) toward the rear creates the most powerful haunches weâve seen on a production Mazda since the RX-7. Especially with its optional 19-inch wheels, the CX-4 works.
Inside the CX-4, the infotainment controls, steering wheel, and gauges are familiar from other Mazda products. The low, horizontal dash design itself, however, with its stand-up display, does not take its direction from the CX-5, with which this vehicle shares its mechanicals. That meansÂ that it will no doubt be pretty excellent to drive, with 2.0- and 2.5-liter Skyactiv gasoline four-cylinder engines under the hood. The 2.0-liter is available with a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions as well as front- or all-wheel drive, while the 2.5 isÂ paired exclusively to the autoboxÂ and all-wheel drive. Ground clearance for all models hovers just under eight inches.
We are thrilled with the way CX-4 turned out. We are less thrilled with the fact that Mazda has no plans to bring the CX-4 to the U.S. at this time. âItâs a China-specific product for an emerging generation of vehicle buyers,â said Mazda spokesman Jacob Brown. But considering Americaâs insatiable appetite for crossovers of all stripesâincluding less-practical, design-driven crossovers like this oneâMazda would be crazy not to not to consider U.S. sales.