MAZDA has unveiled its new CX-50 medium SUV in North America. Because the newcomer will be produced at the Hiroshima-based company’s new assembly plant in Alabama, the model is not earmarked for Australian introduction.
However, the CX-50 is notably the first of five new CX models that Mazda will reveal in the coming year – one of which is already confirmed for Down Under and another three are being considered for this market.
Billed as a “completely new model developed for North America”, the CX-50 should slot just above or below its popular but ageing CX-5 sibling in Mazda’s line-up, if it mimics the position of the CX-30 relative to the CX-3, for example.
The new model’s purposeful off-road-oriented packaging is arguably the most eye-opening aspect of the CX-50, however.
Mazda says it has “extended this vehicle’s capability to enable drivers to venture further into the outdoors and various terrains”.
As such, all CX-50s are equipped with i-Activ all-wheel drive (AWD) and Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive). The latter enables drivers to select from various drive modes to tailor the new Mazda’s powertrain settings to suit a variety of conditions, such as “off-road terrain or providing reliable towing capabilities”.
Although Mazda has equipped its all-wheel-drive crossovers and SUVs with a modicum of added ground clearance and functions that utilise the vehicles’ electronic stability control software to perform tougher off-road tasks, the Japanese brand has tended not to play up its models’ off-road pretensions in the past (the BT-50 utility is an exception, of course).
The CX-50’s off-roader-inspired styling, by contrast, is overt. Like its contemporary stablemates, the newcomer is relatively low-slung, with a slim side-glass profile and wide stance, but it is adorned with generous black cladding (on the wheelarches and flanks), while the chunky bumpers feature only a hint of brightwork.
Moreover, the grille and headlight trims are blacked out. That is not to suggest the CX-50 is a pukka off-roader; it remains a crossover but this model suggests upcoming CX models will look more adventurous.
As expected, the CX-50’s upmarket cabin has a minimalist design, with a driver-oriented layout at the front. Consistent with recent Mazda form, it appears well-crafted and finished with piano black inserts, subtle metallic finishes and contrast stitching that matches the optional terracotta leather trim.
The model further features a panoramic moonroof, which is said to be a first for Mazda.
In terms of practicality, Mazda says the CX-50’s height and length facilitate the “easily loading and securing of outdoor equipment. Additionally, the high strength roof rails and reinforced B-pillars and door jambs add to the usability of securing equipment on the roof.”
The CX-50 will be offered with either the Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre naturally aspirated or Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, each paired with a six-speed automatic transmission
Both engines (140kW and 170kW respectively) are already offered in the local CX-5 range.
As for the upcoming CX models, the CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 are under consideration by Mazda Australia, while the CX-60’s local introduction is pencilled in for next year.