You may need to look closely, but what you’re seeing right here is the all-new 2018 Mazda CX-5 SUV.
The years since have seen Mazda unveil a slew of new models in the Kodo line, including the latest takes on the mid-sized 6 (2012), small 3 (2013), light 2 (2014) and the only recently launched new-generation CX-9.
The CX-5, 6, 3 and BT-50 ute have all been given subtle styling updates since first launching, but the CX-5’s tweaks were arguably the most subtle, with the mid-sized SUV missing out on the bolder grille garnish that has appeared on its stablemates.
Today brings the first look at Mazda’s plans for the next generation, however, and it will surprise few to see clear styling cues from the big new CX-9 – and the coupe-styled CX-4 that recently debuted in China.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the car shown here is a facelift of the existing first-generation CX-5, but a closer look at the evolutionary profile reveals the sorts of sheet-metal changes rarely applied to a mere makeover.
Among the changes through the side are a sharper inside corner where the front door meets the base of the A-pillar, a more rounded design to the wheel arches, a rectangular shape to the fuel filler cap, and a subtle changed rear quarter-window with a new chrome or black garnish.
And, viewed in the right light, there’s also a soft new character line extending down from the front quarter panel to a point just below the rear door handle, replacing the line of the current model that begins in the rear quarter panel and extends through to the lower front quarter.
Changes to the front and rear are, of course, more distinct. Those include slender new headlights and a bolder grille garnish that now terminates beneath the headlights instead of reaching up to pierce the centre points of each lens. The variant shown here also appears to have either a temporary or sporting mesh design to the grille.
At the rear, a similarly narrow look is shown for the tail lamps, flanking what could be a large garnish reaching end-to-end. That feature is barely visible beneath the spy photos, however, suggesting a flush finish with the upper part of the tail gate.
Little else can be determined from these photos alone, with the cabin still to be captured and technical details a long way off being confirmed.
Reports suggest Mazda will work to make the new CX-5 lighter than the circa 1450-1560kg kerb weights of the current model, and revised versions of Mazda’s current SkyActiv petrol and diesel engines will likely also feature.
Mazda has also hinted that the CX-9’s new turbocharged 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine could appear in other models down the road. And, given the presence of powerful turbo models in the Ford Kuga and Subaru Forester ranges, a boosted CX-5 would seem a neat fit at the top of the range.
The company’s new G-Vectoring Control technology is also sure to feature, having already debuted with the small 3 hatch.
Later, likely toward the mid-life point, the CX-5 will pick up Mazda’s SkyActiv II engines still in development now.
Watch for more on the new CX-5 to come in the months ahead, with a global debut likely to occur in the first half of 2017. An Australian debut, then, could follow in mid to late 2017 for the 2018 model year.