By on July 25, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-8 - Image: MazdaFirst, we heard about the Mazda CX-8.

Then the Mazda CX-8 was spotted on the streets of Chicago, Illinois. Which is in the United States.

And then Mazda confirmed that the CX-8 would most definitely not be exported from Japan. As the CX-4 was a China-oriented model, the CX-8 would be geared towards a Japanese market for which the CX-9 is just too big. But then we heard the Mazda CX-8 might be exported from Japan, but only to Australia.

And now, with official imagery, it’s not difficult to understand why Mazda USA has no need for the CX-8. It looks almost exactly like a CX-9 with six fewer inches of length, five fewer inches of width, and a marginally lower roofline.

Americans do not need a smaller Mazda CX-9.

There’s reason to believe Mazda could use more utility vehicles in North America. Aye, couldn’t every automaker?

Mazda has quickly become more reliant on its CX lineup for U.S. sales, earning 54 r drcent of its first-half sales from the CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9 in 2017, up from 45 percent a year ago. As the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 use vast chunks of already limited sales — they’ve combined for 17,000 fewer sales in 2017’s first six months than during the same period of 2016 — Mazda requires healthy CX volume to keep its dealers active.

In June, for example, the average Mazda dealer sold only 16 passenger cars; on par with Ford but well back of brands such as Kia (43), Hyundai (36), Volkswagen (35), and Subaru (24). The average Mazda franchise sold only 36 total vehicles in June, fewer sales per dealer than 15 other auto brands, according to Automotive News Data Center.

Unfortunately, the two latest Mazda utility vehicles — the CX-4 and now CX-8 — aren’t destined for North America. Much as Mazda would like to get the swoopier CX-5 that Mazda China markets as the CX-4 on that side of the Pacific, it’s not to be.2018 Mazda CX-8 and CX-9 - Images: MazdaAs for the Mazda CX-8, “They are closely related, but they serve different audiences that suit the different tastes (and road widths) of their respective buyers,” Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown told TTAC in May. Now we see just what Brown meant by “closely.”

Attempting to determine the differences between the Mazda CX-8 and CX-9 would be challenging enough for a potential Mazda crossover buyer. Determining why the more cramped CX-8 is worthy of hard-earned American dollars would be altogether more difficult, especially since the Mazda CX-9 is already deserving of cabin criticism.

* This article was updated to clarify that the average Mazda dealer sold 36 vehicles in June, not 36 vehicles per day in June.

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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25 Comments on “And Now It’s Obvious Why the Mazda CX-8 Won’t Be Imported to America...”

  • avatar

    It would be just another Mazda that nobody wants.

  • avatar

    Coupe the roof! Coupe the roof! I want my CUVs to be like the evil Stan from South Park hatchback clones.

  • avatar

    “And now, with official imagery, it’s not difficult to understand why Mazda USA has no need for the CX-8. It looks almost exactly like a CX-9 with six fewer inches of length, five fewer inches of width, and a marginally lower roofline.”

    6″ in length isn’t exactly insubstantial, and 5″ in width makes a significant difference in maneuverability. The CX-9’s size would be fine if it had a properly functional third row, but it’s ridiculously large for what it offers. I think Mazda should offer the CX-8 here (as the CX-7), but eliminate the third row altogether. And of course it goes without saying it needs the 2.5T on the options sheet.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Australia is more midsize than the US.

      • 0 avatar

        The first part of my post was a quote from the article. I think there is a place for the CX-8 everywhere. Mazda should have differentiated the styling a bit though.

    • 0 avatar

      Mazda U.S.A. does not want to offer the 2.5T engine in any other vehicles in their line up. They want the diesel to span the engine option.

      • 0 avatar

        And why is that? It’s not about performance, and it’s absolutely not about cost-reduction. I can’t help but think they’re just tired of being criticized for broken promises.

        We’ll see how the diesel does in the CX-5, but with gas prices being low, I’m convinced a 2.5T would be the smarter move. I’m a diesel owner, so I know the pros and the cons, and I’m telling you a diesel Mazda is going to be a tough sell if it comes with the typical price premium.

        A diesel Subaru, on the other hand …

        • 0 avatar

          As far as diesels go, Mazda is extremely different from the others. German car magazine AutoBild was blown away by their Dautertest (basically their massive 100,000km break it, then tear it apart test), where they noted that there was no soot in the Mazda’s engine.
          Wind back 10 years, and two universities in India and the UK (Example “A Survey on Low Compression Ratio Diesel Engine” – Bridjesh P et al) did some theoretical work into single cylinder low compression diesel. Both concluded that reducing compression would actually significantly reduce NOx, however starting it cold would be difficult.

          Fast forward to 2012, and the Mazda engine is the lowest compression diesel (at 14:1 instead of 18:1 up to 22:1), and they have a trick for cold starts – feed exhaust back in for 3 minutes.
          But the real neat trick is that unlike other diesels – it’s significantly lighter (doesn’t need iron block at 14:1 ), is high rpm (it’s basically 1/2 way between diesel and gas), and best of all doesn’t need expensive AdBlue because it has lower NOx without it.

          What would change the market is VW. It was caught lying about emissions. After that, both Japanese and German governments investigated all car manufacturers producing diesels.

          Japans tested cars in lab (where most would match their reported emissions, and the Japanese standard), and on the road (where most would be caught cheating).

          Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi had no diesels that passed. The best of these was 4x the standard when tested on the open road, the worst was 10x. This test was concluded in late 2015.

          However they were surprised when they noted that the Skyactiv diesel tested in the Mazda Demio (2) and CX-5 not only matched emissions stated when tested on the road, but in case of CX-5 bettered them. The results were identical for lab and road. No other diesel in either Germany or Japan has been able to do this.

          They were deemed only diesels not to have cheated emissions, which goes back to the very different method they have used.

          Unfortunately despite this engine has been shown to have acceptable emissions, it fails for the US because the law there requires DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid). Every other diesel requires it, because no other car manufacturer has a way to reduce their emissions without it.

          So while VW was able to sell their diesels (which were noted to have cheated), Mazda cannot sell there (which have been noted to be fine).

          So Mazda is giving in. They are producing a Skyactiv-D with DEF for the US market, and leaving it off for all other markets.

  • avatar

    The CX-8 looks like what the discontinued CX-7 should have been. Or just drop the third row, make it the next gen CX-5, and it will be among the larger mid-size crossovers and probably sell in higher quantities.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the third row being gone and offering something to compete with the Edge and Murano is the goal.
      Or should be.
      I like the CX 9…but have no need for the third row and it takes up to much cargo space.

  • avatar

    Nope, just different markets, with different laws. Some companies like Mazda, BMW or Mercedes get this, and make cars to the market.

    Others don’t, notably VW, who has had a hard time getting the US market, and GM who occasionally tries to sell American Cars in Europe and can’t figure out the problem why they don’t sell.

    Meanwhile, JDM cars are narrow to us here in the US, and the c class/3 series “has a small back seat” (which the ATS didn’t need to copy) and in the US, we don’t understand why.

    I’d totally take a car I’m NOT selling in that market for final road tests, etc. Most folks won’t notice.

  • avatar

    These things are like slabphones–the press struggles to come up with something, anything, to differentiate them from previous models and from one another, when there really is no difference to be found.

  • avatar

    I wish people would drop the meme that the CX9 is too small. I have sat in the third row as a 6’1″ adult and it is acceptable. It’s internal dimensions are comparable to the Toyota Highlander with the same overall legroom (across 3 rows) and headroom. I don`t recall seeing people complain the Highlander is too small or it not selling well.

    It seems to be the new thing to complain about – before it was NVH and noise which has been solved in this vehicle. It is a well priced, well built (in Japan), fun to drive SUV with great style and quality inside and out. It doesn`t sell as well as it should because of weak advertising, rebates and limited Mazda dealers (aka the normal issues with Mazda).

    • 0 avatar

      Specs don’t lie … it is small relative to its footprint. It’s the longest vehicle in this comparison, and yet it offers the least interior space. The Atlas absolutely embarrasses the CX-9. Too much form, not enough function.|suv&veh2=401667891|suv&veh3=401691104|suv&veh4=401709867|suv&show=0|6&comparatorId=144504

    • 0 avatar

      I agree the specs don’t lie. Via truedelta a comparison of the Highlander and CX9 showed the same overall legroom across the three rows and headroom. I never said the CX9 was class leading but neither is it the smallest or barely habitable in the third row either. Some balance would be welcome from the Mazdaphobes.

      • 0 avatar

        In terms of size, the HIghlander is at the low end of the 3-row crossover segment. It’s more than 7″ shorter than the CX-9, and it still manages to accommodate a V6.

        • 0 avatar

          The CX9 is poorly packaged, point blank. Super long hood, sloping rear roofline. I think the total interior cargo volume with seats folded of a measly 71cu ft points to the issue (Highlander is 84cu ft, similar to Explorer).

  • avatar

    And now its obvious that nobody ever cared about the Mazda CX-8 in the first place.

    Please oh automotive gods, scrap some more brands. Entirely too many left.

  • avatar

    Good move by Mazda.

    Too many were already complaining about the lack of room (considering its length/size, esp. in the 3rd row) in the CX-9.

  • avatar

    “The average Mazda franchise sold only 36 total vehicles per day in June,”

    That can’t be right. That’s over 1000 vehicles per month. Surely they would be ecstatic if that were the case?

  • avatar

    Bring it so the car blogs can complain about how similar it is in size to the next model up or down… ;)

  • avatar

    The reason Australia is getting the CX-8 whilst also having the CX-9 is that although Australia loves the CX-9, those who have driven the CX-5 diesel want a diesel CX-9 version – and Mazda is not making one. It was a US specific model that they just happened to make LHD because Australia is a high selling Mazda country (Mazda is 2nd highest selling brand).

    Meanwhile the CX-8 is diesel only for the Japanese market (because they fell in love with the CX-5 diesel too).
    So Australia will get the CX-8 with almost no changes.

    It’s a win-win. Large size and diesel.

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