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Mazda CX-9 2022: Australia-only seven-seat SUV double act with CX-8 keeping Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento at bay

Australia is the only market to sell the CX-8 and CX-9 alongside each other, and it’s a strategy that has appeared to pay off.

When Mazda added the CX-8 to its line-up, a lot of people questioned the sense of having a second seven-seat SUV alongside the existing CX-9. Fast-forward to now and the Mazda large SUV double-act is paying off.

According to the latest figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), sales of the CX-9 and CX-8 are now above pre-pandemic levels; despite the global shortage of semi-conductors and the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19.

While CX-9 sales have declined since the introduction of the CX-8, especially since the introduction of the 2.5-litre petrol engine in early 2020, the two are working in tandem to outsell many key rivals, including the Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.

To the end of September, Mazda has sold 5574 CX-9s and 4763 CX-8s for a combined total of 10,337 units of the large SUV pie. That compares to Mazda’s September 2019 record of 7168 CX-9s and 2551 CX-8s for a combined total of 9719 units.

These compare favourably to the three most direct rivals, with Toyota selling 5913 Klugers so far this year, Hyundai finding 4032 new homes for its Santa Fe and Kia’s Sorento notching 4111 sales.

However, it’s worth noting that Toyota holds a commanding sales lead in the large SUV market, with the LandCruiser Prado accounting for almost 20 per cent of the segment. Toyota also has the Fortuner to back up the Kluger, but unlike the two Mazdas that are very similar in size, design and overall concept, the three Toyota large SUVs are all significantly different to cover different areas within the same field.

The CX-9 has been in Australia since 2016 and when Mazda initially unveiled the CX-8, it was meant to be for the Japanese domestic market only. However, Mazda Australia clearly saw the opportunity to add a diesel-powered seven-seater alongside the petrol-only CX-9 and added the CX-8 in 2018.

The challenge for both models will be to maintain these strong sales moving forward without any major updates planned, beyond Mazda’s typical incremental model year improvements.

Its competitors are newer, with the Toyota, Hyundai and Kia all introduced in the past 12 months so they have an advantage over the Mazda duo. All three rivals also have hybrid powertrains – the Kluger launched with a petrol-electric series parallel set-up, the Sorento plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has just hit showrooms, and the electrified Santa Fe is due in 2022.

The good news for Mazda though, is the impending arrival of its all-new large vehicle platform, which will introduce new underpinnings and inline six-cylinder powertrains. This will likely lead to a more premium model to replace the CX-9 and possibly the CX-8 by 2023.

The new CX-9 will feature the brand’s next evolution of design language with the brand trying to continue its move upwards towards the premium brands.

The CX-9 will be in its eighth year of sale by then, but if the CX-8 continues to maintain its steady sales alongside it the Mazda duo could help the brand maintain its strong position in the large SUV market.

The success of the dual CX-8 and CX-9 strategy may help shape the brand’s plans for the upcoming CX-80 and CX-90. Mazda Australia is set to confirm which of the two new three row SUVs it will take, and it’s unclear if the US-focused CX-90 will be available in right-hand drive. But given its track record of selling two similar models side-by-side the strength of the CX-8/CX-9 could help convince the company to add both new models.