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by Jez Spinks

Mazda is set to join the growing band of car makers building pint-sized SUVs by producing a tiny SUV that could be called the CX-3.

A senior Mazda insider has revealed exclusively to CarAdvice that the company is planning the new model to capitalise on the relentless surge in global SUV sales.

The model is still some years away and the program is not believed to be yet officially signed off, but plans are underway for the baby CX to become Mazda’s fourth global SUV model, joining the CX-5 that launches locally this month, CX-7 and seven-seater CX-9.

“We are now developing a more compact SUV [than the CX-5] – more for Europe and we must imagine emerging markets … Eastern Europe, South America, India…” CarAdvice’s Mazda source said.

“It is common sense [to build it]. We have to develop this vehicle, whether we call it CX-2, CX-3 or CX-4.”

The baby CX model is likely to share its platform with the next-generation Mazda2 city car, which is expected by 2014 and will follow the CX-5 and the 2013 Mazda6 by utilising Mazda’s full range of Skyactiv technologies.

It will make the CX-3 (the number three would be a logical choice considering the other Mazda SUV names) a direct rival for the likes of the Fiesta-based Ford Ecosport, which goes on sale here in 2013, and the Barina-based Opel Mokka and a Chevrolet twin that’s likely to also be badged as a Holden for Australia.

Mazda has been struggling on the financial side in recent years, and CarAdvice’s Mazda source says the company’s relatively small size means it’s crucial to spend its model investments wisely.

The insider pointed to smaller models as a natural volume seller in crucial markets such as Europe, where the Mazda2 is very popular, and emerging markets such as India.

“Mazda is a smaller player [in the global industry]. Picking the right model to build is very important.

“What is small [in terms of SUVs]? What is the right product for emerging countries/markets?

“We are not Toyota, not Ford, not Hyundai, not Volkswagen … we are Mazda.

“We believe the smaller the better [for vehicles]. Small means efficiency is number one priority [for that vehicle]. [And] what should we do for our customers, that’s our priority.”

Mazda has already confirmed it will build next-generation versions of the CX-7 and seven-seater CX-9 SUVs. The all-new Mazda CX-5 goes on sale next week.

Check CarAdvice at 5pm Monday for our review of the new Mazda CX-5.