The (rather gorgeous) Mazda Koeru has been outed at the Frankfurt motor show, previewing the company’s next-generation CX-5 and, more interestingly, signposting a bold move into the premium ‘crossover’ market.
The Koeru — a name that translates to “exceed” or “go beyond” in Japanese — is a sporty concept SUV with “awe-inspiring” proportions and an “intriguing form”. But what is its purpose beyond eye candy?
Overwhelmingly, the low-slung crossover with “the power and vitality of a wild animal” is designed to get the public talking and speculating. Is it a new ‘CX-6’ crossover? A reborn CX-7? A preview of the second-generation CX-5? All three?
Tellingly, Mazda says the Koeru concept car is the “latest incarnation” in its new-generation product range, and brings “a new level of polished refinement”. This suggests a new addition to Mazda’s ‘CX’ SUV family is under consideration, one to take the brand yet further upmarket and pitch it against the Europeans.
One look at the sleek lines (which somewhat resemble an overgrown CX-3, or is it just us?), and the familiar but better-integrated interface in the cabin, tells us Mazda is definitely skewing premium here. Such a cabin looks entirely feasible, and bound to ‘trickle down’ in time.
“Targeted at customers with a cutting-edge mind-set, the Mazda Koeru is a bold challenge to the existing crossover market and embodies Mazda’s on-going quest to deliver pure driving pleasure,” the company said.
Mazda’s SkyActiv architectures (a version of which underpins the Koeru) are modular, so spinning off a new ‘top hat’ body onto an existing SUV structure with some tweaks seems like a cost-effective way to grow the range and capitalise on the world’s insatiable lust for crossover SUVs.
So, is this the preview for a ‘CX-6 coupe SUV’, then? Safe to say Mazda is testing the waters to gauge public interest in a lower-slung, sportier SUV, a kind of budget BMW X4.
At the same time, the Koeru concept no doubt serves other purposes. Look to the dimensions: at 4.6-metres long, 1.9m wide and 1.5m high, the Koeru is 60mm longer and wider than a CX-5, and about 200mm lower. The two share a 2700m wheelbase.
This means, dimensionally, the Koeru sits about mid-way between the CX-5 and the old CX-7 medium SUV in terms of length. The CX-7 was always an ‘in-betweener’ with sportier-than-average lines.
You may also recall the story a little while back flagging the potential for a new car to slot between the CX-5 and CX-9 (a brand new iteration of which premieres in LA this November, and which will surely take a hint of inspiration from the Koeru).
The Koeru could in fact preview such a vehicle, a reborn CX-7. Or at least serve as a catalyst for more conversation on the matter.
Finally, Mazda is leveraging its SkyActiv platforms to reduce model cycles, and has flagged launching a re-skinned CX-5 in 2017, just five years after the first one launched. With this in mind, the Koeru surely gives us some hints as to what that car will look like, albeit with typically exaggerated concept styling.
It’s worth mentioning that, when Mazda does a concept car of this type, it generally sees it through with production cars that stay unusually faithful to the design: the Shinari/Takeri morphed into the Mazda 6, the Minagi became the CX-5 and the Hazumi became the Mazda 2.
What do you think of the Mazda Koeru concept? And would you be interested in a new Mazda ‘CX’ badged crossover?