It may seem surprising, but Mazda has yet to offer a three-row SUV in Japan. While the company does build the massive CX-9 there, it has only been made available in countries outside the Land of the Rising Sun. Now, Hiroshima is plugging up that gap in its lineup with the new Mazda CX-8, which will go on sale in its home market before the end of the year.

Mazda has released a sole teaser photo of the interior, showing a fairly sumptuous cabin (as is the case with the company’s SUVs these days) and all three rows of seats. Unlike the CX-9, the CX-8 will be offered in a six-seater configuration, with a dedicated centre console in the middle of the second row housing an armrest and cupholders. A seven-seater option will also be made available.

Measuring 4,900 mm long, 1,840 mm wide and 1,730 mm tall, the CX-8 is actually closer in size to the CX-9 than the five-seater CX-5. Compared to its larger sibling, it’s only 175 mm shorter, 125 mm narrower and 17 mm lower; it also shares the CX-9’s 2,930 mm wheelbase. By comparison, the CX-5 is a whopping 350 mm shorter and 40 mm lower, and has a 230 mm shorter wheelbase.

Spyshot of the Mazda CX-8, previously rumoured to be a three-row CX-5

Power will come from a 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D turbodiesel engine matched to a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission. Output figures have yet to have been released, but expect them to match the 172 PS and 420 Nm that the same engine in the CX-5 produces.

“Our latest offering, the CX-8 is a new crossover SUV for people who appreciate quality and need a car that seats more than five,” said Mazda president and CEO Masamichi Kogai. “It has the looks, performance and high-end feel customers expect from a Mazda, and even adults can sit comfortably in the third row.

“Mazda aims to create a strong emotional connection with customers, and we will achieve this by continually advancing our lineup to offer all customers our unique combination of driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance.”

Could the Mazda CX-8 be offered in Malaysia to take on the new seven-seater Honda CR-V?