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Mazda CX-50 SUV won’t be released in Australia in current form, next-gen more likely


Similar in size to the top-selling CX-5 medium SUV, rugged good looks, adventure-ready and the potential for a RAV4-rivalling hybrid version. Why the hell can’t we have it?

As far as guaranteed sales home runs go, Mazda’s CX-50 should be a total shoo-in for Australia.

Currently left-hand drive only and on sale in North America, China, Mexico and Colombia, this CX-5-sized SUV has exactly the rugged looks and dirt road capabilities that sends Aussies to showrooms with open wallets.

But as Mazda’s CX-60 SUV arrives in Australia, the CX-90 to follow next month and then the CX-80 in 2024, chances of us receiving a right-hand drive CX-50 appear to have gone. For this generation at least.

2023 Mazda CX-50 towing camper trailer
The Mazda CX-50 seems not destined for Australia

“There is no plan at all for an introduction (of CX-50) in March here,” said Alex Fisk of Mazda Australia, addressing online speculation it would arrive in Australia eight months from now.

“There’s no plan for an Australian introduction full stop currently, mainly because it is a car made for North America, for left-hand-drive markets, and nothing has changed in that regard,” he told Chasing Cars.

The chunky wheel-arched CX-50 is built on the same modular architecture beneath the CX-30 and Mazda 3, and is more premium-appointed than a CX-5, fulfilling the current ‘Mazda Premium’ direction. 

2023 Mazda CX-50 climbing steep ascent
The new Mazda CX-50 is all-wheel drive only

The US CX-50s are strictly all-wheel-drive and with choice of 2.5-litre naturally aspirated or 2.5-litre turbo petrol engines.

Why can’t we have nice things (like a CX-50)?

Mazda Australia has previously said it would keenly evaluate the business case for CX-50 should it be made available, but the Alabama-assembled SUV has been specifically designed for North America and on a right-hand drive production line.

2023 Mazda CX-50 driving cluster and steering wheel
Interestingly, Mazda is still using analogue dials in the CX-50

The CX-50 is also made in China, where a hybrid version was announced this April for its home market, likely utilising Toyota’s hybrid technology. 

The Huntsville, Alabama factory is shared between Mazda and Toyota – the Mazda CX-50s and Toyota Corolla Cross are built in close quarters – so it wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest the Chinese CX-50 could secure the Corolla Cross’s hybrid setup.

Think about that. A fuel miser Mazda petrol hybrid of CX-5 proportions: it’d give the sales hero Toyota RAV4 Hybrid a significant rival.

2023 Mazda CX-50 front 3/4 snow shot
We like the look of the new Mazda CX-50

Securing right-hand-drive production is key. And for that, the second-generation CX-50 is shaping up to be a world car, available to markets such as Australia, so it’s likely we must twiddle out thumbs until then.

Will the CX-5 be replaced by the CX-50 Where would a CX-50 leave the Mazda CX-5?

In North America, the CX-50 is sold alongside the current CX-5, not instead of it.

As CX-5 is Mazda Australia’s strongest seller by some margin – and Australia’s seventh best-selling vehicle of 2023 so far – dropping the firm family favourite would seem unlikely. It’s also the brand’s global sales king.

Mazda CX-5 GT SP Turbo 2023 front 3/4
The current-generation Mazda CX-5 GT SP Turbo, in comparison

The CX-5 was given a facelift early in 2022, but the current generation model has been with us since 2017. Even then, it was more an evolution rather than revolution over the original CX-5 which debuted in 2012. It’s certainly no spring chicken.

With model cycles, the timeframe suggests a new CX-5 – or a replacement – would land late next year or into 2025. 

Mazda Australia boss Vinesh Bhindi told Chasing Cars: “For the CX-5, Aoyama-san (Mazda’s global product strategy director) has said there is a future in that size vehicle, so I presume there are future models. What it is called is a separate conversation.”

Mazda CX-5 2023 rear 3/4 2
Future plans for a CX-5-sized vehicle are still blurry

So, certainly no insisting the decade-old CX-5 nameplate was safe.

Mazda dealers would love the CX-50

We spoke with sources at Mazda dealerships about CX-50, and many were miffed the adventurous-type SUV wasn’t expected in local showrooms.

All were very familiar with the model, and the general consensus was its point of difference – a rugged aesthetic, front bash plate and a range of off-road accessories – would be a welcome addition here, and that customers would be happy to pay the premium over the more pragmatic CX-5.

Mazda CX-60 P50E GT 2023 driving front
Aussies will get the CX-60, which has now launched in Australia

They acknowledged there was a confirmed replacement for CX-5 in future, but backed up Mazda Australia’s official line that CX-50 was left-hand-drive only for now.

A potential future sticking point would be a saturation of SUV product in Mazda showrooms. With the CX-60 and CX-90 arriving it now has nine different SUVs in its line-up, expanding to ten when CX-80 arrives.

The CX-60 and CX-5 already occupy the medium SUV space, so the CX-50 would add a third to the mid-sizer party.

It seems strange to contemplate, but the CX-5 nameplate looks far from secure moving into the next generation.

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