Previewed earlier this year at the 2019 Malaysia Autoshow, the Mazda CX-8 range is finally open for booking. As previously reported, there are four variants of the SUV on offer, and all models are locally assembled at the Inokom plant in Kulim, Kedah. Unfortunately, prices have yet to revealed, but Mazda Malaysia said it will cost 15% to 20% more than the CX-5 CKD.

The three-row SUV is positioned between the CX-5 and CX-9, and is powered by two engines. The base 2.5L 2WD Mid, 2.5L 2WD Mid Plus, and 2.5L 2WD High all share the same naturally-aspirated 2.5 litre four-cylinder SkyActiv-G engine, producing 192 hp at 6,000 rpm and 258 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The range-topping 2.2L AWD is the only model with a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive system. Motive power comes from the familiar 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D engine that makes 188 hp at 4,500 rpm and 450 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. In Japan, the CX-8 can be had with the 2.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine, which outputs 228 hp and 420 Nm of torque.

All variants share the same six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission with manual shift mode, although interestingly, Sport Mode is only available on petrol-powered models. The automaker’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC) and i-Stop Idling systems are standard across the board.

In terms of dimensions, the CX-8 is bigger than the CX-5 in every way, measuring 4,900 mm in length (350 mm longer than the CX-5), 1,840 mm in width, 1,730 mm in height and a wheelbase of 2,930 mm (230 mm longer than the CX-5, and identical to the CX-9). The diesel also weighs considerably more at 1,924 kg, versus the petrol models at 1,781 kg.

The base 2.5L 2WD Mid is the only seven-seater model in the line-up, while the rest are available as six-seaters. The 2.5L 2WD Mid Plus variant gets captain seats for the second row, and fabric upholstery is standard for both models.

In the case of the 2.5L 2WD High and 2.2L AWD models, they both gain an additional centre console between the captain seats, complete with an integrated stowage bin and two cup holders. Here, the seats are wrapped in supple Nappa leather.

On the equipment side of things, all variants get auto-levelling LED headlights with LED daytime running lights (only the base model gets bulb-type DRLs), LED tail lights, keyless entry, powered tailgate, and sit on 19-inch alloys wrapped with 225/55 profile tyres.

Inside, standard kit includes push-start button, seven-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, three-zone automatic climate control with rear air vents, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and electronic parking brake. The most expensive pair benefits from a 360-degree surround view camera and windshield-projected colour heads-up display.

For safety, all CX-8 models get six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Hill Launch Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, seat belts with pretensions, and Isofix child anchors. The CX-8 was also awarded five stars in the ANCAP crash safety test.

Mazda’s i-ActivSense safety systems are available too – models from the 2.5L 2WD Mid Plus get Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard, but only the top two models get Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, and Smart City Brake Support, which is Mazda’s name for autonomous emergency braking, AEB (front and rear; 2.5L 2WD Mid Plus gets front SCBS only). Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC, active cruise control) is not available.

Customers get to choose from six colours, which are Soul Red Crystal, Machine Grey, Snowflake White Pearl, Deep Crystal Blue, Sonic Silver, and Jet Black. All models come with a five-year or 100,000 km manufacturer’s warranty with five-years free maintenance. The CKD CX-8 will also be exported to Thailand and Philippines. Thoughts on this, guys?

GALLERY: Mazda CX-8 at the 2019 Malaysia Autoshow