The Mazda CX-8 has been given a facelift in Japan, with the updated three-row SUV set to go on sale in the country at the end of December this year. In addition to some visual tweaks, the CX-8 also gets some handling and technology updates.

Starting with the exterior, the new CX-8 gets a revised grille with a thicker chrome frame and a mesh pattern insert, the latter replacing the pre-facelift model’s horizontal slats. Elsewhere, the front bumper has a simpler design than before, with a reshaped lower intake and faux skid plate.

The headlamps are new too, blending in neatly with the “wings” of the chrome frame and incorporating L-shaped daytime running lights reminiscent of the CX-60. The headlamps can still be ordered with adaptive LED technology, which now features 20 lighting elements instead of 12 to improve visibility at night.

At the rear, the restyled taillights gain a similar lighting signature as the front with L-shaped elements and the chrome strip on the tailgate no longer intrudes into the clusters. Though not immediately obvious, the rear bumper has been slightly widened for a more purposeful stance. Customers in Japan will also have a new colour options – Rhodium White Premium Metallic – to choose from.

Mazda also offers several design packages, including the off-road-inspired Grand Journey that gets silver skid plates and gloss black side mirror caps. It is joined by the Sports Appearance package with black exterior accents as well as a choice of red or black leather upholstery. The top-of-the-line Exclusive Mode now comes with body-coloured wheel arches and lower body cladding.

Inside, the CX-8 remains largely familiar, with minor revisions being new seat cushions and springs to improve upper body stability during cornering. USB-C ports also make their way into the cabin along with support for wireless Apple CarPlay and an Off-road mode that joins Normal and Sport in the Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) system.

Driver assistance also gets a boost with the adoption of Cruising and Traffic Support, which allows the CX-8 to accelerate, brake, and keep itself in lane at low speeds in heavy traffic. Other driving-related changes include revised springs and dampers to improve body control and optimising the accelerator pedal mapping for models with the 2.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine to give a more immediate response.

On that mention, available engine options for the CX-8 in Japan include the aforementioned 2.5 litre turbo unit that makes 230 PS at 4,250 rpm and 420 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Other options in the line-up are a 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-pot with 190 PS at 6,000 rpm and 252 Nm at 4,000 rpm as well as a 2.2 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel making 200 PS at 4,000 rpm and 450 Nm at 2,000 rpm.

All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and every variant can be ordered with all-wheel drive as an alternative to front-wheel drive. Six- and seven-seat options are also offered depending on variant, and prices range from 2,994,200 to 5,058,900 yen (RM95,769 to RM161,808).