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Koeru concept suggests 2012 wasn’t necessarily the end for Mazda’s mid-size coupe-SUV.
When the Mazda CX-5 replaced the CX-7 in 2012, the move from a coupe-style SUV to a more pragmatic upright shape made sense. The mid-size SUV segment was expanding at a rate of knots and fast becoming the car of choice for small families seeking versatility over outright looks.
The CX-5’s graduation to Australia’s best-selling SUV in 2014 proves that Mazda’s decision was on the money, but the Koeru (pronounced ‘Ko-were-oo’) unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show this week suggests Mazda’s original line of thinking could return to bolster its mainstream SUV offerings alongside the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9.
The Koeru is significantly smaller than the current CX-9, so is highly unlikely to form a preview of the new model expected to appear at the LA motor show in November.
The Frankfurt concept rides on the same 2700mm wheelbase as the CX-5, is just 50mm longer overall, but a significant 210mm lower.
The return of the CX-7 nameplate seems the most logical choice for a potential production version, but CX-6 or even CX-4 are also possibilities with Mazda’s current SUV naming convention.
Mazda has already proven the scalability of its Skyactiv architecture by quickly spreading it throughout the entire passenger car and SUV lineup, so it makes sense to continue this versatility by venturing into niche-busting models like BMW and Mercedes with the X4, X6 and GLE Coupe respectively.
We want to give greater value from design
The Koeru’s niche-busting nature is reflected in its name, which is Japanese for ‘exceed’ or ‘go beyond.’
Speaking with CarsGuide in Frankfurt, Koeru chief designer Iwao Koizumi expanded on the relevance of the concept’s name to his design brief.
“The order was aiming for new generation, aiming for the young elite. Taking Mazda in a premium direction, but not at a higher price point. We want to give greater value from design,” he said.
Koizumi offered little detail when asked how much of the concept’s design could make it to production.
We’d expect a production model to ... retain much of its motorshow looks
“Consider the high quality of our previous concepts, I’ll leave that up to your imagination,” he said.
Judging by Mazda’s recent concept-to-production examples, we’d expect a production model to score more realistic head and taillight internals, larger doorhandles and wing mirrors and smaller wheels, but otherwise retain much of its motorshow looks.
A closer look at the interior reveals lightly-modified CX-5 parts throughout, with redesigned instruments, steering wheel, gear selector and a reshaped screen for the MZD multimedia system.
Koizumi did warn that the Koeru's size is not final however: “The basic dimensions will change,” he said.
So a production version could be larger, but given the tendency of concepts to be larger than eventual production models to make them more motor show and camera-friendly, we could be looking at a coupe-SUV to sit between the CX-3 and CX-5 in size, which makes the CX-4 nameplate seem realistic.
The last Mazda concept to reach production was the Takeri shown in October 2011, which previewed the current-generation Mazda6’s August 2012 unveiling. Following this logic, we could see a production Koeru as soon as mid 2016 if given the production go-ahead.