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A new look at the upcoming Mazda CX-8 has been handed down today, revealing its exterior styling for the first time.

For now, the view is limited to the CX-8’s profile, showing a subtly tapered roofline and a bolder kink in the glasshouse at the D-pillar. But, as the below image of its CX-9 sibling shows, the difference between the two is far less distinct than pundits might have expected.

Still, that is unlikely to cause much confusion or concern for buyers, because the CX-8 is to be sold exclusively in Japan as the only three-row vehicle the brand will offer in its home market. Although the new CX-9 is built in Japan, it has only ever been an export offering.

And, while the styling of the two cars appears to be only superficially different, the CX-8’s smaller overall dimensions could prove appealing on the island nation.

Although the CX-8 and CX-9 ride on the same 2930mm wheelbase, the CX-8 is shorter overall: 4900mm to the CX-9’s 5075mm. It is also notably narrower (1840mm to 1969mm), and not quite as tall (1730mm to 1747mm).

The CX-8 will also be set apart by its powertrain, which will be a 2.2-litre turbo diesel setup instead of the 2.5-litre turbo petrol unit the rest of the world gets with the CX-9.

In Australia, Mazda’s 2.2-litre diesel offers 129kW of power and 420Nm of torque, while the CX-9’s petrol mill offers 170kW and 420Nm.

The CX-8 being ruled out for Australia makes it the second new Mazda SUV line that won’t come here, with the low-slung CX-4 crossover restricted to China only.

Still, the company’s local arm has expressed its interest in the CX-8: “If there was ever a version offered to Australia we would evaluate and consider its viability among our range,” Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi told CarAdvice in May.

MORE: CX-8 coverage
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