The Mazda CX-8 is on preview here in Malaysia following its first local appearance in February, with its official market launch estimated to take place around the end of the year, according to distributor Bermaz. This is positioned above the CX-5 and below the CX-9 in the model hierarchy.

So far, there will be a choice of two powerplants for the CX-8; the 2.2 litre Skyactiv-D four-cylinder turbodiesel which produces 188 hp at 4,500 rpm and 450 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm, and the 2.5 litre Skyactiv-G four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine which makes 192 hp at 6,000 rpm and 257 Nm at 3,250 rpm. Both units are paired with a Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

Size-wise, the CX-8 slots in above the CX-5, with which it shares the same dashboard architecture. The CX-8 measures 4,900 mm long with a wheelbase of 2,930 mm, making it 350 mm and 230 mm longer than the CX-5 on those counts respectively.

There will be six- and seven-seat versions of the CX-8. The seven-seat configuration is laid out across three rows with a 2-3-2 layout, and will be joined by a six-seat option with a pair of captain chairs in the second row. The display unit on show here is a seven-seater diesel with a Bose sound system, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats – safe to say, heated seats probably aren’t needed in our climate.

Standard equipment across the board includes 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlamps, LED fog lamps, LED tail lights, keyless entry and start, triple-zone climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, MZD Connect infotainment, six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, ABS, EBD and brake assist, traction control and Hill Launch Assist.

The base seven-seater version will be upholstered in fabric, while a further two variants with captain chairs (with a centre console armrest) come with leather upholstery. Keep in mind that these are tentative specifications, and have yet to be locked in.

The three-row CX-8 could to be set for local assembly, given that Malaysia is Mazda’s regional assembly centre for the CX-5. The CX-5 is priced from RM132k for the base 2.0 litre 2WD model, to RM174k for the range-topping 2.2 diesel AWD. The forthcoming CX-8 will, in all likelihood, be priced above the CX-5 when it officially goes on sale in Malaysia, though the question remains – by how much?