By on July 12, 2017

Mazda CX-8 interior - Image: MazdaThe Mazda CX-4 is essentially a more style-centric variant of the Mazda CX-5.

But you can’t have it. The Mazda CX-4 is for China alone.

The upcoming Mazda CX-8, meanwhile, straddles the middle ground between the CX-5 and CX-9: smaller than a CX-9, but still roomy enough to squeeze in a third row of seats, unlike the CX-5.

Our interest in the CX-8 was piqued when the right-hand-drive Mazda was seen parked on Chicago streets two months ago. But Mazda wouldn’t budge: this was no sign that the CX-8 was bound for America. Instead, the CX-8 is intended only to serve a purpose as Mazda’s large vehicle in Japan, where the CX-9 is too big.

It seems, however, that the Mazda CX-8 is destined for the export market after all.

Just as in the United States, where Mazda’s blossoming crossover lineup would do well to be expanded — Mazda USA now produces 54 percent of its sales via the CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9 — Mazda’s Australia outpost would also like to get its hands on more utility vehicles.

The key difference: Mazda is a bit player in the United States, claiming less than 2 percent of the market through 2017’s first six months. Mazda Australia, on the other hand, is a powerhouse by comparison. More than 10 percent of the new vehicles sold in Australia so far this year were Mazdas. Only Toyota sells more new vehicles.

The Mazda 3 is Australia’s fourth-best-selling vehicle; the second-best-selling car. Mazda’s CX-5 is Australia’s top-selling SUV/crossover; the CX-3 ranks fifth.

If Mazda Australia garners this kind of success with a limited lineup, how much more damage might be done with a fourth utility vehicle?

Wheels reports that the CX-8’s inclusion in Mazda’s 2018 lineup Down Under is not yet finalized, but, “Mazda Australia is confident the CX-8 will form a part of the growing model line-up.”

Of course, the respective success of Mazda in the U.S. and Australia is not the only key distinction. The CX-8 was intended to be a JDM vehicle only. JDM equals right-hand drive. Likewise, Australia is a right-hand-drive market.

Thus, don’t hold your breath for the CX-8 to arrive in America just because Mazda seems willing to adjust product plans for the Aussies. The 2018 Mazda CX-8 debuts in production form in Tokyo in October 2017.

[Image: 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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