The new model will debut at the Beijing motor show in April, the Japanese carmaker said in a release today. The vehicle is based on the Koeru concept, a low-profile, fastback five-door cross wagon unveiled at last September’s Frankfurt auto show.
But don’t expect the CX-4 in the U.S. anytime soon. It initially will be manufactured in China and sold only in that country, spokeswoman Michiko Terashima said. The company is considering sales in other markets, but nothing has been decided.
The new entry takes the brand deeper into crossover territory at a time when small utility vehicle sales are booming. Mazda has said it wants tap that demand by bulking up its offerings of crossovers, which already span the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9.
The CX-4 may also aim to siphon sales from red-hot Subaru by entering a segment where it could compete head-on with the popular Subaru Outback.
In an interview with Automotive News last fall, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai likened the Koeru to the Outback and said it would be a new genre for his brand.
“It’s a totally new car. It’s a lower, sporty SUV. It’s close to a wagon,” Kogai said.
He said the upcoming car will ride lower than the brand’s other crossovers and will focus more on delivering more exhilarating driving.
Any production version that goes up against the Outback would have plenty of volume to siphon but also plenty of loyal buyers to convert.
In the U.S. alone, Subaru sold 152,294 Outbacks in 2015, 9.7 percent more than in the previous year. That total is more than Mazda’s combined truck sales for the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 in that period. Subaru’s presence is much smaller in China.
Mazda’s global crossover lineup gets another lift this spring with the arrival of the next-generation CX-9 high-end crossover, Mazda’s only three-row offering.
North America will be the main market for that vehicle. It is expected to account for about 80 percent of global volume of some 50,000 units annually.