Why not just offer the CX-9 in Japan?

LISTEN 11:39

In a world where SUVs have pretty much taken over the automotive market, Mazda is actually coming up quite short with its offerings, thanks to its current lineup featuring no more than the CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9. Over in Japan, Mazda’s home market, the offerings are even smaller with just the CX-3 and CX-5 making up the only options available to drive in SUV segment. Well, that latter fact is about to change, as Mazda has now introduced the Mazda CX-8. Essentially a slightly smaller CX-9 (we’re talking about inches here, folks) the CX-8 is designed specifically for the Japanese market, giving it something special from the brand that it helped produce so long ago. It takes on the same styling DNA as it’s taller, foreign sibling, while the power to go is derived from the 2.2-liter Diesel that Mazda has been using since 2012, but upgraded to deliver 140 kW or 187.74 horsepower or about 11 horsepower more than pre-2017 models.

Now, the CX-8 is being billed as an SUV that brings new style and depth to the KODO design language, with new “one of a kind” SUV styling. Well, go ahead and take a deep breath and sit down, because you just been taken for a long, hard ride. Mazda is about as bad as the German three when it comes to tooting its own horn, and the CX-8 is the proof. For the most part, the CX-8 is identical to the CX-9 that we have here in the states. The only real difference is the car’s size, which combines a drop in length of 6.49 inches with a drop in width of 4.76 inches, and a drop in height of just 0.89 inches. But, maybe it isn’t all the same as the CX-9 that you can find here in the States, so let’s take a better look at it to see what all Mazda is working with. Either way, it’s certain to be a plus for the Japanese market – those folks have been needed something larger than that CX-5 for a long time.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Mazda CX-8.

  • 2018 Mazda CX-8
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:


2018 Mazda CX-8 Exterior
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I wouldn’t even blame you if you saw it and thought that it was a CX-9, to be honest.

I would be lying to you if I told you that the CX-8 was all-new. In fact, I wouldn’t even blame you if you saw it and thought that it was a CX-9, to be honest. After all, it features a very similar front fascia, similar headlights, and identical grille, nearly the same hood, and –for the most part – the same body. The only real differences outside come in the form of slightly larger wheel arches. New body lines just below the waistline that fade off into the body in the center. The trim around the stationary glass in the rear quarter now comes to a point a bit higher here for a sportier appearance. Around back, there’s also a slightly smaller overhang that adds a bit of freshness to the lineup too.

Now, Mazda really did build this thing for the Japanese market, so it should be surprising that despite its appearance, it’s actually just a hair smaller than the CX-9 How much smaller, you ask? Well, the CX-8 comes in at 192.91-inches long, 72.44-inches tall, and 68.11- inches high. All told, that’s not much smaller. We’re talking about a difference in length of just 6.49-inches, width just 4.76 inches, and height being just 0.89-inches shorter. When you add in the fact that it also sports the same headlights, taillights, lower body structure, suspension and all, it’s pretty wild that this thing even exists. It almost seems like it would have been cost-effective to simply import the CX-9 to Japan. Mazda says the look is both timeless and edgy, but what do you think? Let’s move onto the interior.


2018 Mazda CX-8 Interior
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While the exterior is very similar to that of the CX-9, the inside does get its own look with only a few similarities to remind you of how similar the car is as a whole

While the exterior is very similar to that of the CX-9, the inside does get its own look with only a few similarities to remind you of how similar the car is as a whole. Naturally, the CX-8 was designed for the Japanese market, so it should come as no surprise that the driver’s position is on the right side. As far as the dash is concerned, there’s a bit of a similarity to that of the CX-9, but in this case, the upper level of the dash is a big bubbly insert that also makes up the overhang above the instrument cluster. All four vents are located on the front of the dash, pointing to one another with the inner edge coming to a point in the center. Ahead of the driver sits a three-gauge instrument cluster that includes a central speedometer left-positioned tachometer, and a digital unit to the right to offer up some driver information as needed.

2018 Mazda CX-8 Interior
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2018 Mazda CX-8 Interior
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The center console is quite similar to the CX-9 with the square look to it

The steering wheel is your typical two-spoke unit with a silver lower spoke and a handful of thumb button on either side spoke. The center console is quite similar to the CX-9 with the square look to it. The shifter is centralized and placed closer to the dash than most of us are used to while the rotary controller and a few control buttons are positioned to the rear ahead of the cup holders. The door trim panels are pretty standard, featuring armrests that run parallel to the ground below, and silver handles that match the trim on the dash, around the vents, and around the center console unit.

As far as materials go, the CX-8 will be offered in four different trim levels. Two of those get Nappa leather upholstery and real wood trim. The other two will get some cheap plastic trim and fabric upholstery. The CD L package, for instance, also brings in a bit of contrast with the upper section of the dash taking on a black coloration while the lower portion of the dash matches the seats. The interior layout is always available with three rows of seating, but what kind of seating is up to you. You can go with captain’s chairs in the second row that will allow the CX-8 to offer up seating for six, with a bit of a luxury, have-your-own-bubble kind of feel for the front two rows. Meanwhile, you can also opt for bench seating in the second row that will prove room for three passengers there, bring the grand total of people that can be hauled up to seven.

2018 Mazda CX-8 Interior
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As far as cargo room goes, you can haul up to 239 liters of cargo with the third row of seats in place

As far as cargo room goes, you can haul up to 239 liters of cargo with the third row of seats in place. Fold down the rear seats, and the amount of space increases to 572 liters with an extra 307 millimeters of storage in the subtrunk down below. Mazda has gone so far as to add soundproofing to the headliner and the D-pillar to cut back on even more road noise (those of you who have driven a CX-9 know why this was important.)


2018 Mazda CX-8 Exterior
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You would think that since the CX-8 is so similar to the CX-9 that it would feature the same 2.5-liter, 250-horsepower, four-cylinder. But, instead, this Japanese-primed vehicle gets a 2.2-liter diesel – the same one that has been used in Mazda vehicles since 2011. And, be that as it may, the engine has seen a mild upgrade that moves it up from 129 kilowatts up to 140 kilowatts. For those of you on this side of the big drink, that’s a total of 187 horsepower, up from 172 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties while front-wheel or all-wheel drive can be had on any trim level. G-Vectoring control is also standard on all trim levels. The chassis and body are supported by the same suspension system as the CX-9 but tuned specifically to handle the size and weight of the CX-8. 17-inch ventilated discs hand braking up front while a solid system is mounted in the rear.


2018 Mazda CX-8 Exterior
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The CX-8 is set to go on sale on December 14th, and the order books are already open. Pricing starts out at 3,196,800 for the entry-level model and increases marginally up to as much as 4,190,400 for the range-topping model. This pricing includes taxes, according to Mazda, but doesn’t include options or accessories. For those of us here in the U.S., those prices convert to 28,641.83 and 37,544.01, respectively. To put that into perspective, the CX-9 starts out here in the U.S. at $31,520 and climbs to as much as $44,315 for the range-topping Signature model. As it turns out, Mazda is giving the Japanese market quite a deal on its new full-sized SUV.



Peugeot 3008

2017 Peugeot 3008 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2017 Peugeot 3008 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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One of the biggest competitors on the Japanese market for the CX-8 will be the new Peugeot 3008 SUV. It replaces the old MPV 3008 that was uglier than sin with something much more sporty and ready to take on the new world of SUVs. Under the hood, Japanese models get a 1.6-liter four-cylinder as standard equipment. It delivers 159 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 177 pound-feet of torque between 1,400 and 3,500 rpm. The 3008 will be a bit shorter at 4,450 mm (compared to the CX-8s expected length of 4.900 mm), but it’s classy enough to be relevant. Pricing for the 3008 SUV starts out at ¥3,540,000 or about $31,304 at current exchange rates.

Learn more about the Peugeot 3008 here.


2018 Mazda CX-8 Exterior
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To me, I think it would have been better if Mazda had just manned up and dropped the CX-9 into the Japanese lineup. It would have saved time, and it would have certainly fit. I mean, the CX-8 does make sense as the largest SUV offering from the brand right now is the CX-5. But, the brand could have made it much easier on itself. After all, we’re talking about a total size difference of no more than 12 inches between height, width, and length. That doesn’t make the CX-8 much smaller. And, with that said, I think Mazda knows better than to try to pawn this thing off on the U.S. market. First of all, it just wouldn’t make sense with the exception that it’s a bit cheaper than the CX-9. Of course, that would only hurt CX-9 sales, so it would only make sense from a consumer standpoint. I have a feeling that the CX-8 is going to stay in the Japanese market for some time to come, and that’s where it should be. After all, the Japanese needed a full-sized Mazda SUV too, right?

So, in the end, what do you guys think about the Mazda CX-8? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Too much like the CX-9
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
About the author

Press release

Mazda Motor Corporation started taking orders for its new three-row crossover SUV, Mazda CX-8, at dealerships throughout Japan today with sales to start on December 14. Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (including taxes) range from 3,196,800 to 4,190,400 yen. The target sales volume is 1,200 units per month.

The CX-8 will be the flagship of Mazda’s SUV lineup in Japan. As a crossover SUV with three rows of seating, it represents a new people-moving option for customers who want to enjoy outings with family and friends but don’t want to sacrifice design or driving performance. The model features the full suite of SKYACTIV technology and a sophisticated design, courtesy of Mazda’s KODO design language, imparts a premium feel. Performance is effortless around town and on the highway, and all passengers, including those in the third row, will appreciate the quiet cabin and comfortable ride. Developed under the Mazda Proactive Safety philosophy, i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies support safety and peace of mind, essential for an enjoyable driving experience1.

The styling brings new depth and maturity to KODO design. The idea was to create a look both timeless and edgy, something that would continue to excite owners even after many years. As the flagship model in the SUV lineup for Japan, the focus was on creating a look of class and quality, and every interior part was chosen in careful consideration of its color and material.

The CX-8 is powered by an advanced version of the SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine. The most significant upgrades since the engine’s introduction in 2012 realize powerful driving performance that defies the traditional image of a people mover and excellent environmental performance. With Mazda’s unique G-Vectoring Control technology on board, the CX-8 is a car that drivers and passengers alike will enjoy both around town and on long drives.

Packaging was developed under the human-centered design philosophy, with a focus on ease-of-use as a three-row SUV. Three different seat types are available for the second row, providing seating for up to six or seven and allowing customers to prioritize space or numbers, depending on their needs. Seats can be folded down in a variety of arrangements to accommodate items of different sizes in the trunk. And the cabin is quiet enough that conversation is possible between the first and third rows, making the trip enjoyable for all passengers.

Some i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features, designed to support the driver’s recognition, judgment and operation, come as standard equipment.2 All model grades qualify for a "Safety Support Car S - Wide" rating3 under the public awareness campaign being run by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. A new 360° View Monitor is also available, enhancing safety and peace of mind in various situations from backing into a parking space to passing oncoming traffic on narrow streets.

"Under our Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision for technology development.4 Mazda aims to bring about a beautiful earth, enrich people’s lives as well as society and inspire people through the value found in cars," said Masamichi Kogai, Mazda’s Representative Director, President and CEO. "We designed the CX-8, flagship of our SUV lineup in Japan, to provide driving pleasure based on this new long-term vision, and in development we were driven by a desire to create a new market together with customers who are seeking new lifestyle options. Moving forward, we want to create a strong bond with our customers so they will stick with the Mazda brand even as their lifestyle evolves throughout the different stages of their lives."

■ Features of the Mazda CX-8

● A maturing KODO design theme delivers one-of-a-kind SUV styling
Mazda designers chose "timeless" and "edgy" as keywords for the design, hoping that a beautiful and premium-feeling design would add excitement to customers’ lives for many years. With a focus on genuine materials for a high-class look and feel, they created a new SUV design that speaks of driving pleasure, luxury and meticulous attention to detail, a perfect fit for the flagship of Mazda’s SUV lineup in Japan.

Exterior Design
A new SUV style based on a flowing horizontal theme presents a strong and powerful form with a look of maturity and dignity.

The contrast between the compact cabin and the body upon which it sits creates proportions that evoke spirited driving, a refreshing departure from the boxy look of most people movers. The bulge in the shoulder area and other touches produce a look of toughness befitting an SUV while the reflections that flow over the body surface add an air of dignity.
Seven exterior body colors are available, including Machine Gray and Soul Red Crystal, which were developed specifically for KODO design.

Interior Design
Designers focused on creating an inviting interior that imparts a pleasing sense of tension for all on board. Specially selected Nappa leather upholstery and real wood trim5 add warmth and an air of authenticity that improves with age. Surrounding occupants with refinements, the cabin feels like a comfortable study and exudes an air of quality and maturity.

Meters and controls are laid out symmetrically, creating a pleasant sense of tension that helps the driver focus on the road ahead. Decorative trim spreads horizontally across the dash, creating an expansive feel. Colors and textures were chosen to produce an atmosphere of affluence and composure.
Four interior packages are available, two featuring genuine leather and two featuring fabric. With the XD L Package, the upper section of the interior is black and the lower section matches the color of the seats. This chic, two-tone design creates an atmosphere of composure and warmth.

● Smooth driving, powerful performance
With a Jinba-ittai driving feel tailored to match human senses, the CX-8 provides smooth and powerful performance that defies the image of a people mover
An updated SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine

Updates to the SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine maintain the engine’s exceptional fuel economy while raising maximum output from 129 to 140 kilowatts and maximum torque from 420 to 450 Newton meters. Rapid Multi-stage Combustion, a technology which injects small bursts of high-pressure and extremely fine fuel spray into the cylinder in quick succession, improves combustion efficiency, reduces harmful emissions and makes for a quieter engine. Other new technologies include stepped, egg-shaped piston heads, ultra-high-response multi-hole piezo injectors, and a variable geometry turbocharger.

Transmission and drivetrain

All models come with the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. Customers can choose between front-wheel drive and the i-ACTIV AWD all-wheel drive system. G-Vectoring Control, which improves stability by controlling engine torque in response to steering inputs, is standard on all model grades.

Suspension and brakes

The suspension is structurally the same as that of the larger CX-9 (only available outside Japan), but damping and other parameters have been tuned especially for the CX-8. A rebound spring in the front damper enhances stability in cornering.
Seventeen-inch ventilated (in the front) and solid (in the back) disc brakes paired with a large master cylinder provide strong braking and excellent control.

● A high-quality and flexible cabin space
The cabin was designed for ease-of-use as a three-row SUV and to provide a comfortable and high-quality space for all occupants. Entry and exit are easy and even adults can sit comfortably in the third row. A flexible luggage compartment and variety of storage spaces cater to a wide range of purposes. The cabin is comfortable and quiet enough that all passengers can enjoy conversing while on the move.

Packaging was designed in line with ergonomic principles. The first row allows the driver to find the ideal driving position, the second row is comfortable for people of larger builds and the third row can easily accommodate adults up to 170 cm tall. External dimensions suit Japan’s roads and parking lots, with overall length, width and height at 4,900 mm, 1,840 mm and 1,730 mm respectively.
Depending on model grade, customers can choose between two different types of captain’s chair seats (6-passenger layout) or a bench seat (7-passenger layout) for the second row. In the XD L Package model grade, a large console box with USB charging ports separates the captain’s chair seats.
With all three rows of seats in use, the luggage compartment offers 239 liters of space, enough for a rear-facing baby stroller or two golf club bags.6 Folding down the third row increases the space to 572 liters and a multi-purpose sub-trunk 307 millimeters deep sits below the floor of the luggage compartment. (All measurements are VDA, include 65 liters for the sub-trunk and assume no Bose® sound system.)

A quiet cabin

Sound absorbing materials in the headliner and around the D pillar help create a cabin quiet enough for all occupants to converse without raising their voices.
Wind noise while driving is reduced thanks to a parting seal around the upper section of the liftgate and aerodynamic roof rails (standard with the XD L Package) designed not to disturb the air flow.
A dynamic damper in the front suspension and damping materials in the rear wheel fender panel help to suppress resonance in the vehicle body, a major cause of road noise.

● Excellent safety performance helps everyone on board enjoy the drive
From reducing risk factors to mitigating damage in a collision, the CX-8 was designed to provide excellent safety performance in every area so friends and families can enjoy the driving experience with peace of mind. i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features2 come standard in every model grade.
Active safety

Available with a new 360° View Monitor2 that displays vision from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the car on the center display. The view changes for each driving scene, helping drivers to avoid hazards by enabling them to check their blind spots and distance from any obstruction.

Passive safety

A bifurcated structure is used below the C pillar for the first time in the lightweight and rigid SKYACTIV-Body.
An active bonnet comes standard on all models. The rear end of the bonnet pops up about 10 centimeters the instant that a collision with a pedestrian is detected, creating a space between the bonnet and engine that can reduce the impact on the pedestrian.

■ Manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing for the Mazda CX-8
All model grades are exempt from vehicle weight and acquisition taxes7 and the CX-8 is eligible for a subsidy of up to 64,000 yen (XD L Package with AWD) under the government’s clean energy vehicle subsidy program.8

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Press release

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