Mazda CX-5

23 Mar, 2007 (All day) Ross Pinnock

It might be part cabrio and part off-roader, but Mazda’s CX-5 looks all set to define a new niche

As our exclusive picture shows, the crossover model will be inspired by the Hakaze – the design study which made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month – and take aim at Land Rover’s Freelander. It com- bines the fun of the brand’s MX-5 roadster with the practicality of the CX-7 SUV, which will be coming to UK showrooms in September.

And while the distinctive Mazda radiator grille and swept-back headlamps have a familiar look, there are plenty of new features to surprise buyers. Key styling cues taken from the Hakaze include a split-opening tailgate and four-seater cabin.

The production version will also boast removable roof panels to give occupants a genuine wind-in-the-hair experience. However, the bubble can­opy of the Hakaze and its pair of long doors are not scheduled to appear on the roadgoing variant.

Instead, the company is likely to opt for a more conventional windscreen and a four-door set-up inspired by the RX-8 sports car, with short rear-hinged ‘suicide’ back doors. Not only will they boost access to the rear seats, but with tight shut lines and no visible handle they will also provide the CX-5 with the sporty look of a two-door. Inside, buyers will get a range of hi-tech features, including a USB port to allow music lovers to connect their MP3 players directly to the stereo, as well as Blue­tooth hands-free phone connectivity. Advanced systems won’t be limited to the interior, either, because the tarmac-biased model will also have a clever part-time four-wheel-drive set-up for light off-road duties or work on slippery surfaces.

Officially, the CX-5 has yet to be confirmed for production, but bosses in the UK would like to see the sporty soft-roader in showrooms by 2010, with prices from around £18,000.
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