30 December 2004

Mazda’s radical MX-Crossport concept will point the way ahead for a new family of off-roaders when it is unveiled at next month’s Detroit Motor Show. Mazda’s only current 4x4 is the conservative, Ford-derived Tribute, meaning it is missing out on America’s booming market for road-going ‘crossover’ 4x4s.

The MX designation given to the Crossport signifies that it is close to production and we can expect it to land in UK showrooms in mid-2007, using the same basic platform as the Mazda 6.

Europe is sure to get the production Crossport, but a bigger Volvo XC90 rival also in the pipeline is less clear-cut. A third, smaller 4x4 sharing the look of the first two should also be launched in the UK to replace the Tribute.

Styled under Mazda’s British design chief Moray Callum, brother of Jaguar design chief Ian, the Crossport has clear RX-8 influences in the heavily creased arches, the gaping lower grille opening and in the shape of its headlights. Callum wants them to become hallmark features of ‘non-core’ Mazdas; chiefly sports cars and 4x4s.

‘They’re clearly becoming a Mazda feature and we’re looking at developing them further, but we accept they won’t work on all cars, especially our mainstream models. ‘It’s no coincidence that we’re showing the MX-Crossport in America. These cars are being done primarily for that market. We can’t afford to do silly show cars like some can; ours are realistic.’ The Crossport’s radical interior, with four seats divided by a full-length floor console, won’t make production, but the gearshift, which folds flat and works in push-button mode as an auto but can be erected for manual shifts, is being considered.

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