Mazda has revealed the new CX-50 as the first of five new SUVs due in the coming years, aiming it squarely at customers with "active and outdoor lifesyles".
Developed especially for the US market, the CX-50 will be built at Mazda and Toyota's shared Huntsville, Alabama factory from January 2022. It is the first model to wear the CX-50 nameplate, slotting into Mazda's line-up between the CX-30 and CX-5.
The CX-50 gets four-wheel drive as standard for "greater confidence on- and off-road", with Mazda's new Intelligent Drive Select function (Mi-Drive) providing a variety of drive modes for tackling a range of different terrains and conditions. Mazda claims it will drive "naturally" both on challenging terrain and while towing.
It will be offered from launch with a choice of either turbocharged or naturally aspirated versions of Mazda's 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine, both paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox, while electrified options - including a full hybrid - will be launched at a later date.
Mazda has previously confirmed it will introduce plug-in hybrid technology to its line-up with the Europe-bound CX-60 and CX-80, but has given no indication that this US-only model will be available as a PHEV. The CX-50 will soon be joined by the larger CX-70 and CX-90, which will be among the first models to use the Japanese brand's new six-cylinder petrol engines.
Design-wise, the CX-50's relationship with the 3, CX-30 and MX-30 – each inspired by the radical Vision Coupé concept from 2017 – is clear. The brand's 'Kodo' design ethos extends to narrow LED headlights, an expansive chrome-surround grille and a long, sloping bonnet. The contrasting body cladding - a nod to its off-road aspirations - draw a link to the MX-30 EV.
The interior is familiar from the 3, too, though Mazda has introduced "details inspired by technical, modern outdoor gear" to mark the CX-50 out as the more outdoors-focused SUV in its line-up.