The Mazda Koeru concept revealed at the Frankfurt motor show this week does indeed serve as the precursor to a production CX-4 crossover, and is not just a vague future design preview.
This sums up the explanation given this week by Mazda Motor Corporation managing executive officer for sales and marketing Masahiro Moro, who spoke with media including CarAdvice at the car’s reveal this week in Frankfurt.
“[Mazda 3] five-door customers are very good customers, looking for new thinking, so those customers may going towards a new direction,” he said, noting that Mazda had been “heavily reliant” on hatch buyers and thereby couldn’t afford to lose them to new trends.
What new direction? Consider Australia to be a microcosm. This year, small passenger cars like the Mazda 3 are down about 9 per cent, while small SUVs and medium SUVs are up 27 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. That’s where you put your incremental additions, if you’re a savvy car-maker.
“That is the thinking behind this new crossover concept, we are testing how this study model gets feedback, to see if this is a useful model to addition to our product portfolio or not.”
While this sounds non-committal, Moro-san clarified later on.
“CX-5 is a typical all-rounder, about family, boot space… CX-3 is smaller in terms of boot space and so maybe for Mazda 3 five-door customers not satisfied with space of CX-3, a CX-4 or CX-6 whatever you call, this would be a more sportier and sophisticated execution,” he said.
“The CX-5 is a good car, but still maybe seen as a very conventional SUV territory, and they [Mazda 3 buyers] won’t be satisfied.”
While Moro-san cited the Mazda CX-6 as a potential nameplate, the suggestion a production version of the stunning Koeru concept would coax (or cannibalise) Mazda 3 buyers denotes it’ll probably be a Mazda CX-4. This, despite the concept being 200mm lower, but 60mm longer and wider than a CX-5 while spun off the same wheelbase.
The wheelbase sharing is key — CX-4 would be spun off the CX-5’s SkyActiv architecture and likely use the same engines, and potentially whatever more potent version (likely turbocharged) unit is about to premiere in the all-new CX-9 that premieres in LA next month.
We also spoke with the Koeru’s designer, Iwao Koizumi, who said the lowered roof-line would have to be raised somewhat for production, to create more headroom over the “tight” interior.
“The challenge for us is not to lose the vitality of life while making it more premium,” he added, though said this did not mean the brand’s pricing would move similarly upmarket.
The obvious parallel for the CX-4 (or CX-6) might be BMW’s X4 and X6 derivatives of the X3 and X6, which have coupe pretensions via polarising sloped rear hatches.
Koizumi responded to this by saying that while the Koeru added some sport appeal to the CX-5, Mazda’s more classical design was the winner, despite BMW’s strong sales in this area. “I don’t think it [the X6] looks good,” he said.
On the topic of Mazda SUVs, the company indicated it did not see any pressing need for a new CX-7 to sit between the CX-5 and new CX-9, though this could change to a degree in time. Perhaps if the CX-4 comes along, a CX-6 might follow…
More: Read and watch more on the Mazda Koeru here.
Would you buy a Mazda CX-4/CX-6?