Or just a special-edition Mazda3?

Last week Mazda released a teaser picture showing the shadowy rear end of a new crossover that will break cover at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March. The silhouette looks a lot like the new-generation Mazda3, but it’s not yet clear what model we’re dealing with. Now, a pre-production vehicle spotted in China confirms that Mazda is indeed preparing to launch a small crossover based on the Mazda3. But what is it?

Well, we have three scenarios to consider.

Mazda CX-3 Facelift

2019 Mazda CX-3
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The wheel arch cladding is missing, but it could be added later on

The CX-3, Mazda’s smallest crossover to date, is almost four years old. This means that a facelift is due to arrive in 2019. This is the scenario that makes more sense, as the CX-3 is heavily based on the Mazda3. It rides on the same underpinnings, it has a similar interior, and it even looks a lot like the hatchback. Now that the latter was redesigned, the CX-3 mid-cycle update should include the latest styling features.

But how do we know the vehicle spotted by car spotter FERD isn’t just a regular Mazda3. It definitely looks small enough to be a Chinese version of the hatchback, right? Well, while it might look identical to the Mazda3 up front, it seems a tad taller. The wheel arch cladding is missing, but it could be added later on. A second car, photographed from the back, looks identical to the CX-3, but this could be just a benchmark model that Mazda took out for a spin alongside the prototype.

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Euro-spec Mazda CX-4

2017 Mazda CX-4 High Resolution Exterior
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Based on the CX-5, the CX-4 wasn't sold outside China up until now

The CX-4 nameplate is in production since 2016, but only in China. This compact crossover with a coupe-like roof was unveiled at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show, and it’s the result of a joint-venture between the Japanese manufacturer and Changchun-based and state-owned FAW. Based on the CX-5, this crossover wasn’t sold outside China up until now. However, rumors that Mazda may finally bring it to Europe are starting to gain traction. And, for good reason. The SUV market is expanding rapidly, and more and more automakers are stepping into the coupe crossover niche. Mazda doesn’t have one yet, and the CX-4 seems like the perfect first model for Europe and then, eventually, the U.S.

However, the existing CX-4 is notably larger than the CX-3. It’s some 14-inches longer and almost three inches wider, which also makes it notably bigger than the pre-production model spotted in public. Mazda’s teaser for the Geneva Motor Show also shows a rear end that looks a lot like the Mazda3. The rear window is more upright than it would be on a coupe-style crossover, while the taillights and the lower bumper are very similar to the Mazda3’s. This makes a good case for the facelifted CX-3, which should borrow a lot from the hatchback.

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A Totally Different Car

2019 Mazda 3 Exterior
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We can’t ignore the fact that the prototypes spotted by FERD are very similar to the Mazda3. It’s also important to note that they were seen in China. So, while they might hide something different under the body, they could also be China-spec versions of the hatchback. Or special editions that will be sold in the Asian country only.

We’ll know for sure as the Geneva Motor Show moves closer, but for the time being I’m pretty sure that Mazda’s upcoming crossover will be a mid-cycle refresh for the CX-3.

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Further reading

2017 Mazda CX-4
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda CX-4.

2019 Mazda 3 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda 3.

Is This the 2020 Mazda CX-4 That was Teased for the 2019 Geneva Motor Show?
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda CX-3.

2019 Mazda CX-5
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda CX-5.

Source: FERD

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