Now this is one car that I’m pretty sure a lot of you are already familiar with. Way before the Proton Exora was launched, Photoshopped photos of the Mazda 8 were floating around the internet with its Mazda badge replaced by a Proton badge, and the styling actually looked pretty believable as a Proton.

The Mazda 8 is a large MPV, much larger than the Mazda 5. It’s wheelbase of 2,950mm exceeds that of the Toyota Alphard, but the Alphard is slightly longer. In general the two MPVs are in the about the same size. They are large with a tall roof and feature sliding doors, though the bodystyle of the Mazda 8 is more similiar to the likes of the Kia Sedona (Naza Ria). The Mazda Biante is more similiar to an Alphard.

Although it has been available since 2008 from Naza World, this time it is available officially through Bermaz, the Mazda dealer. Naza World’s price for the Mazda 8 was RM198,888 back in February 2008, and the new official Bermaz price is slightly cheaper at RM195,404.20 OTR with insurance.

Under the hood is a normally aspirated 163 PS engine with 203Nm of torque at 3,500rpm. It’s a version of the 2.3 litre engine in the first generation Mazda 6 but tuned differently – as you can see peak torque is achieved at a lowish RPM, but unfortunately torque seems a little on the low side for something that has to pull all that weight and people around. We’ll find out if this is the case if we ever manage to secure a test drive unit from Bermaz.

Now this is where the difference between the Bermaz model and the Naza World model comes in – the Naza World model features a turbocharged version of the 2.3 litre engine instead, but it’s been two years so I’m not sure how much Naza World is selling the Mazda 8 now. Of course, the Bermaz car comes with a warranty from the official distributor.

The 2.3 litre engine is mated to a 5-speed Activematic transmission. There are two airbags at the front, and curtain airbags for the rear passengers. The third row splits 60:40 and the second row seats are captain seats which are able to slide back and forth by about 80mm.

If you want to check out the Mazda 8, you can head on to Mid Valley this weekend where the Mazda 8 is on display until Sunday. Look after the jump for some pix of the Mazda 8 from Japan – there are a mix of the pre-facelift and post-facelift model in the photo gallery just in case you want to compare.

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