CarAdvice has learnt that a production version of the Mazda Koeru coupe-style SUV – the vehicle that is expected to wear the CX-4 badge – may be sold in China before it makes it to any other international markets.
Spy images of what appears to be a production ready version of the Mazda Koeru concept car seen at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show surfaced this week, and while the silhouette of the car may not be quite as rakish as that of the show model, it is clear that this is a swoopy-roofed high-riding model.
Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told CarAdvice that the images look “legitimate”, and confirmed the pictures were “definitely not a CX-9” based on the proportions.
The reasoning behind the China-first policy may well be due to internal Mazda politics in that country.
The Mazda brand has two allies in China. FAW builds some Mazda-branded products, and it has a fully-fledged joint venture with Changan (under the name Changan Ford Mazda Automobile). Benders indicated that the reasoning behind a production version of the Koeru being sold in China ahead of any other market could be because one of those partnerships needs a specific extra model.
Benders said the reaction to the Koeru concept had been “great”, but warned that if it were to be approved for global production, it could be some time off.
“The reaction has been great. It’s a good first step in a long journey,” he said.
As for the Australian chances for the production model, Benders said a production coupe-style SUV would be “very appealing”.
“We will start the process, ask the question and see what happens,” Benders said.
“We don't know. We still need to do some thinking about that.”
The proliferation of the SUV market is driving brands to look at alternative body styles as key elements to their respective ranges.
We’ve seen BMW do it with the X6 and the smaller X4, Mercedes-Benz has the GLE Coupe and will have the GLC Coupe, and Volkswagen has confirmed it will built coupe-style versions of its new SUV range, including the Tiguan and other smaller models.
Benders said the local market will have to shift to reflect these growing – previously niche – segments.
“If you look at VFACTS, it talks about all these segments in passenger vehicles, and then just talks about SUVs generally,” he said. “The SUVs generally is sort of breaking up now in terms of small, medium, et cetera.
“And all you saw on the passenger side is now being replicated on that side, and it’ll be interesting what happens on the passenger side – because in medium and large cars, the large cars are probably going to disappear when the locals finish up.
“The options on the passenger side will drop down, so eventually I can see – I don’t know what you’re going to call them, but in passenger language they call them sports cars. … Sports Sports Utility Vehicles, perhaps?” he said.
“People still have that desire for that personalised design or look and feel, and if they want to keep going for that sort of styling, that slightly raised stance… it’s interesting what’s driving that, and I’d have to say a lot of that is driven by the baby boomer generation,” Benders said.
“As they get older, they’ve still got all the money. And you’ve got [Treasurer of Australia] Scott Morrison saying these guys need to get out there and spend some of their horded cash. But they cant’ climb into sports cars as easily as they used to, they’re looking after grandkids because their children have got to work to fund houses and so on, so they’ve got a use for these sort of vehicles.
“That’s partly where it goes, it’s not only the parents who buy SUVs for their kids, but also the grandparents for more than one reason.”