The Mazda CX-8 has been launched in Japan, where it retails for between 3.2 and 4.2 million yen (RM122k-160k). Available only as a Japanese domestic model (JDM), the CX-8 is a three-row SUV that serves as the SUV flagship model for Mazda in Japan, because the CX-9 is not available over there.

At the front, which is nearly identical to CX-5, the CX8 features slim headlights and front apron design. The shape of the grille is unchanged here, but it comes with horizontal slats within it like what you’ll find on the CX-9.

Viewed from the side, the CX-8 appears longer than the CX-5, and that’s because it is. The vehicle measures 4,900 mm long, which is 350 mm more than the CX-5, 1,840 mm wide and 1,730 mm tall. It also shares the same wheelbase with the CX-9 at 2,930 mm, again longer than on the CX-5 (2,700 mm).

The increased length is clearly portrayed by the shape of the side windows, which differs from both the CX-5 and CX-9. The latter is a strong influence for the CX-8’s rear, where you’ll find familiar taillights with a chrome trim piece nestled between them. The rear apron is slightly tweaked here, and there are dual exhaust tips.

Inside, the layout of the dashboard is a carbon copy of the one found in the CX-5, from the shape of the air-con vents to the centre console. Other familiar bits include the steering wheel design, MZD infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, switchgear for the climate control and Commander Control interface and a heads-up display.

Mazda offers four interior packages for the CX-8 in Japan, two with genuine leather and two featuring fabric. The interior also comes with specially selected Nappa leather upholstery and real wood trim to “add warmth and an air of authenticity that improves with age.” As a side note, seven exterior body colours are available, including Machine Gray and Soul Red Crystal.

Customers can also choose from either six- or seven-passenger layouts, the former introducing captain’s chair seats in the second row with a large console box between them. Mazda says the second row is comfortable for people of larger builds, and the third row can easily accommodate adults up to 170 cm tall.

In terms of boot space, there’s 239 litres available with all three rows of seats in their original position. Fold the third row down and that figure increases to 572 litres. There’s also a multi-purpose sub-trunk 307 mm deep that sits below the floor of the luggage compartment to store items.

The CX-8 is only available with a 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D turbodiesel engine mated to a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission. The powerplant is identical to the one in the CX-5, although it has been uprated to produce 188 hp and 450 Nm of torque (from 173 hp and 420 Nm). Customers can choose between front-wheel drive and the i-Activ AWD all-wheel drive system, while G-Vectoring Control is standard across the board.

As for safety and driver assist systems, Mazda’s i-Activsense suite is present on every variant of the CX-8. This includes Smart City Brake Support (SCBS), Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM).