Mazda CX-50 crossover could declare Mercedes-hunting season

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Mazda's upmarket push partly hinges on a new rear-wheel-drive architecture developed in-house. It's scheduled to enter production in 2022, and a new report claims an upcoming crossover called CX-50 will inaugurate it.

Australian magazine Wheels learned from anonymous sources that the CX-50 will make its global debut at the 2021 Los Angeles auto show, which will tentatively open its doors on November 19. We haven't seen the new crossover yet, but insiders stressed Mazda wants to reap the rewards of going through the trouble of creating a rear-wheel-drive platform by giving the CX-50 a short front overhang and a long hood. Its silhouette will be sportier than the CX-5's, and it will be the ideal backdrop on which to paint the next evolution of the elegant Kodo design language.

Building the CX-50 on rear-wheel-drive bones will allow Mazda to install its new straight-six engine between the fenders. Gasoline- and diesel-powered models will be available, though we're highly unlikely to receive the latter. The two engines will have a displacement of 3.0 and 3.3 liters, respectively, according to the same source. Both will spin the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive will be optionally available.

The six-cylinders will work with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology. The palette of available powertrains will also include a plug-in system built around a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but it doesn't sound like SkyActiv-X engines will be offered.

Mazda has confirmed it's about to add a rear-wheel-drive architecture to its arsenal, though it hasn't revealed how or when we'll see it. If the report is accurate, the Japanese firm will begin publishing details about the CX-50 in the coming months, and it will unveil the model in November 2020. Looking ahead, the platform will also underpin the successor to the Mazda6, which will be discontinued in the United States at the end of the 2021 model year.

Lower-volume models, including a crossover with a coupe-like roofline, are in the pipeline as well, but they'll come after Mazda renews its core range of cars and completes the leap upwards. Ultimately, the plan's success largely depends on how new products like the CX-50 are received in key markets, like the United States and China.

Wheels learned the CX-5 (pictured) won't get pushed out of the line-up by the CX-50. It will receive a round of updates in the not-too-distant future and carry on as a cheaper alternative to avoid alienating customers who want a Mazda without paying for a luxury car. Older engines and a front-wheel-drive platform will differentiate it from the 50.