Australian details of the 2021 Mazda CX-8 have been outed online, ahead of the updated three-row Mazda SUV's expected showroom arrival in March or April.
Details published on social media reveal the bulk of the updates unveiled in Japan in December 2020 will make their way to Australia, with the local Mazda CX-8 line-up to benefit from new technology, updated feature lists and an expanded range with two new variants.
While final values have yet to be locked in, it's understood prices won't increase significantly over those of the existing range, which spans from $39,910 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Sport petrol, to $66,940 plus on-road costs for the limited-run Asaki 100th Anniversary AWD diesel.
Mirroring the larger, petrol-only CX-9, headlining the upgrades locally will be the addition of a larger 10.25-inch infotainment display running the Japanese brand's latest Mazda Connect software, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation.
However, the larger screen will be limited to higher-spec GT and Asaki grades, with the lower Sport and Touring variants – the aforementioned names carried over from the existing range – to soldier on with the current 8.0-inch MZD Connect infotainment system, offered since launch in 2018, with touchscreen functionality.
Above and top: Japanese-market Mazda CX-8 Black Tone pictured, expected to be equivalent to Australia's Touring SP.
The early information indicates the new screen will be joined by the majority of the new features confirmed for Japan late last year, which while specific equipment details have yet to be confirmed, will likely include wireless smartphone charging and a hands-free power-operated tailgate – though which variants these will be fitted to in Australia remains unclear.
Joining the upgraded tech suite will be a pair of new variants: Touring SP and Asaki LE. Readers familiar with the larger CX-9's range will find few surprises in what the two new CX-8 models add.
The Touring SP, like the CX-9 GT SP and CX-5 GT SP detailed in recent months, adds a variety of blacked-out styling features over the donor, petrol-powered Touring variant, including black alloy wheels, a black front grille and black mirror caps.
The burgundy leather upholstery featured on the CX-9 isn't expected to be offered with the CX-8 Touring SP, however, with black leather trim understood to be fitted instead.
It's possible the Touring model was selected by Mazda to receive the SP treatment given the popularity of petrol power over diesel, with the latter understood to account for around 35 per cent of overall CX-8 sales in Australia, despite being available across the entire range, rather than just the two entry-level Sport and Touring variants, as is the case with the petrol engine.
Above: The six-seat layout set to feature in Australia's Mazda CX-8 Asaki LE. Below: Top-spec, Japanese-market Mazda CX-8 dashboard.
Meanwhile, the Asaki LE will focus its upgrades in the second row, with the diesel-only Asaki's three-seat bench to be replaced by a pair of individual 'captain's chairs', separated by a centre console with a leather-wrapped armrest and cupholders.
If the LE-badged flagship variant of the CX-9 is any guide, the CX-8 Asaki LE should score quilted leather trim and larger exhaust tips – both features introduced in Japan in 2020 – plus a unique 19-inch alloy wheel design.
Aside from their unique additions, the Touring SP and Asaki LE will match their standard counterparts on standard equipment.
Government documents indicate powertrains will carry over unchanged, comprising a 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine on Sport and Touring grades, and a 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder throughout the range.
A six-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive should be standard-fit across much of the range, with higher grade GT and Asaki models expected to offer all-wheel-drive as an option. Should the CX-8 mirror its larger sibling, the Asaki LE will employ all-wheel-drive as standard.
The updated 2021 Mazda CX-8 is expected to go on sale in Australia in the coming months, with dealer sources pointing to a local arrival in April.
A Mazda Australia spokesperson told CarAdvice the CX-8 would receive an update sometime in 2021, but remained tight-lipped on what it would comprise, or when in the year it would arrive.