The head of Mazda Southern Africa says the local arm of the Japanese firm “seriously” considered introducing the CX-8, but now plans to wait for the next-generation CX-9 instead.

Speaking to CARmag.co.za at the local launch of the new Mazda3, Craig Roberts revealed Mazda SA had come close to launching the CX-8 – which would have slotted in above the CX-5 – towards the middle of 2018.

“We did look seriously at CX-8. We decided against CX-8 because it is purely a seven-seater alternative,” he told us, adding the automaker did not see enough local demand for a “pure seven-seater”.

“We also had limited opportunity in terms of powertrains in CX-8 at the time that we were looking to introduce it,” Roberts explained.

The CX-8 was revealed in September 2017, measuring 4 900 mm long, 1 840 mm wide and 1 730 mm high, and boasting three rows of seats. It is currently sold in markets like Japan, China, Australia and Malaysia.

Interestingly, Roberts also confirmed Mazda SA had come close to introducing the CX-9.

“For CX-9, we did a detailed study and were basically in the process of introducing the vehicle, but based on where the market was, in that segment and at that price point [which he described as “above R650 000”], we decided we would wait for the next-generation CX-9.

“Rather than bring in the CX-9, which we would have potentially been able to launch in the first quarter of 2020, with the final facelift, we’d rather bring in the new CX-9 potentially 18 months after that,” he said.

The CX-9 sold in North America and Australia employs Mazda’s turbocharged 2,5-litre petrol engine.