Spotted recently on the streets of Chicago was a Japanese crossover that will never â€” not in final production form â€” actually make it to the streets of Chicago.
Nor to the streets of any other American city, for that matter. Wearing no camo and sitting in broad daylight, the diesel-powered Mazda CX-8 was photographed by Peter Lazar, albeit not from the front.
When the 2018 Mazda CX-8 is launched later this year, its primaryÂ market will be Mazda’s Japanese home base. “It will not be sold in the U.S., as CX-9 fills that role quite well,” Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown told TTAC yesterday.
Mazda also re-confirmed that the CX-4, a more rakish take on the CX-5, is also still primarily a Chinese market crossover that will not make its way across the Pacific. In other words, 40 percent of Mazda’s global utility vehicle lineup stays outside the mighty SUV market that is America.
In Japan, the CX-9 that serves as Mazda USA’s flagship is deemed too large for the domestic market. The upcoming CX-8 is a three-row vehicle that rides on a similarly lengthy wheelbase. However, the CX-8 is shorter and significantly narrower than the CX-9.
“They are closely related, but they serve different audiences that suit the different tastes (and road widths) of their respective buyers,” Brown said.
In the United States, Mazda feels the CX-8’s space is effectively filled by the equivalently broad CX-5 in gas and upcoming diesel formats, and the larger, turbocharged, five-inches-wider CX-9.
Whether for local executives to get a feel for a vehicle or for marketing campaigns, vehicles not bound for North America do tend to find their way to the United States for one reason or another. In this Mazda’s case, the unique CX-8 badge, diesel signifier, and right-hand drive didn’t capture an inordinate amount of interest, perhaps because the CX-8 looks very much like a CX-9 that spent a only a few minutes in the dryer.
Mazda’s utility vehicle volume in the U.S. reported a 22-percent year-over-year sales improvement in 2017’s first four months. The CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9 account for slightly more than half of Mazda’s U.S. sales output after claiming responsibility for 44 percent of the brand’s U.S. volume at this stage of 2016.
Timothy Cain is the founder ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.netÂ and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.