Mazda CX-50 revealed as a rugged off-road version of the CX-5
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The Mazda SUV range is expanding. This week, the brand unveiled its latest addition, the brand new 2023 CX-50.
The rugged-looking vehicle aims to retain its on-road performance, while being a capable off-roader.
Production is set to begin at the Mazda and Toyota plant in Alabama, kicking off in early 2022. The CX-50 is set to hit showrooms next year.
Similar to the CX-5, the CX-50 is powered by Mazda’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Initially, the car will only be made available with an engine that's naturally aspirated or turbocharged, but Mazda promises that more hybrid options will become available after the launch.
The naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre engine produces 139 kW and 252 Nm for the CX-5. And it's turbocharged option with the Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo, produces 186 kW and 434 Nm of torque.
Dave Coleman, Mazda’s North American manager of vehicle dynamics, says most outdoor trips involve hundreds of kilometres of pavement driving, and just 10-20 kilometres of off-road driving near the end of the trip. Therefore, he says the company focused on making an off-roader that doesn't compromise on it's on-road functionality.
“Compromising all of that on-road driving, just for a little bit of improvement off-road doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” says Coleman. “Especially if you’re Mazda, with our expertise on-road. So we resolved to get the best off-road performance that we could without making any compromises in the on-road driving.”
Instead, the company is focusing on utilising its on-road prowess to design a vehicle that drives as you would expect on any surface.
“Mi-Drive modes are designed to give the same driving dynamics in different situations where the conditions are so different that we have to have different tuning to accomplish the same thing,” Coleman explains.
So there's an off-road mode, but no surface modes. Unlike in other vehicles, the CX-50 doesn’t offer a sand, gravel, snow, etc. mode. The reason being, while that sounds like fun in a showroom, it's confusing in the real world as surfaces tend to be made up of more than one material.
Coming along for the ride is the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive technology and Intelligent Drive Select. This will be standard for the CX-50, but it’s not always being used for its torque.
For example, the towing mode changes the shift schedule to account for the extra weight of a trailer, but it also load up the g-vectoring control to account for the weight taken off the front wheels. The purpose of this is to hopefully make the SUV steer more like it would without a trailer and avoid a wobble. And with the AWD system loaded with torque, it also attempts to make the drive more stable.
The CX-50 is built for everything you need, with high strength roof-racks which allow you to carry everything your heart desires. There's also a new panoramic moonroof so that stargazers can see more (provided you've already unloaded the roof).
While the SUV won't be making it to Kiwi shores, more details will be revealed closer to the launch. Check out this list of all the Mazda SUVs NZ will be getting next year.