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2023 Mazda CX-5 rendered: Will going upmarket work for the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson rival?

Would you buy the 2023 Mazda CX-5 if it looked like this? (Image credit: Motors.es).

Mazda’s new-generation CX-5 replacement is nearing completion and is expected to arrive in Australian showrooms in 2023, but what will it look like?

A new render by Spanish publication Motors.es has surfaced online to take a stab at the styling of the third-generation Mazda mid-size SUV, which will take the fight right to the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Nissan X-Trail and more.

The design takes cues from the spy shots taken of the new CX-5 in California earlier this month, and imagines the new SUV as an evolution of Mazda’s current Kodo design language.

Much like the changeover from first- to second-generation form in 2016, the imagined CX-5 takes an evolutionary step in styling rather than a revolutionary one, and fits right in Mazda stable next to the CX-8, CX-9, Mazda3, CX-30 and BT-50.

The front fascia has been tweaked with slimmer headlights and a more modern grille to keep things fresh, while the same proportions and near-creaseless body work remains as part of Mazda’s more upmarket play.

While Mazda has kept the design elements of the CX-5 under wraps for now, rumours suggest the Japanese brand will offer two versions of its new mid-size SUV – the CX-5 and more upmarket CX-50.

The former is likely to continue with its four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as front- and all-wheel-drive options, like now, but the latter is tipped to be built on a new rear-drive architecture shared with the new-gen Mazda6 and Lexus IS.

This would allow Mazda to chase down premium offerings like the Genesis GV70 and Lexus NX, as well as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5, without abandoning the mainstream audience that has made the CX-5 hit.

The strategy would also mirror Mazda’s approach to the light and small SUV markets, with the Mazda2-based CX-3 and Mazda3-based CX-30 concurrently sharing the same showroom space.

As such, expect the new CX-5 to feature the same engines as the current SUV, which includes 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre unit, a 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre unit and a flagship 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged engine, as well as a 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre diesel unit.

The CX-50 meanwhile, is expected to score six-cylinder options in petrol and diesel forms, as well as 48-volt mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid choices to satisfy the world’s ever-growing electric appetite.

The CX-50 platform is also expected to underpin new versions of the CX-8 and CX-9, so expect engine options to also grow for those nameplates.

Details on the new-generation CX-5 and CX-50 are expected to be announced by Mazda later this year.