This appears to be our first look at the new, rear-wheel drive, inline six-powered 2022 Mazda CX-5.

    A reader of TFLCar shared these images with the American website.

    The prototype was spied near Mazda’s North American headquarters in Los Angeles.

    Mazda Australia’s managing director, Vinesh Bhindi, has confirmed the next-generation mid-sized SUV will feature a dramatically different drivetrain.

    “[For] CX-5 and above on the large platform, inline six will be an option, and rear-wheel drive,” Mr Bhindi said.

    “So, those things are going to be available to us where it fits in. We just have to see when the final product is signed off”.

    While underneath there’s been a revolution with a new platform, new engines and a different drive layout, the exterior design represents an evolution from the current front/all-wheel drive model.

    It appears to be slightly larger than the current car, with a more squared-off tailgate and tail lights.

    Likewise, the headlights and grille appear to be slightly boxier than those of the current car.

    The Mazda 6, CX-5, and CX-8 are all expected to move to Mazda’s new Large Architecture.

    A recent report by BestCarWeb indicated the new CX-5 would enter production in December 2022, offering both petrol and diesel inline-six engines.

    Before then, the redesigned Mazda 6 will reportedly enter production in March 2022.

    Displacing 3.0 or 3.3 litres, the new inline-six petrol and diesel engines will be available with 48V mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology.

    The replacement CX-5 and CX-8 will reportedly still offer four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines at the entry level, while Mazda could continue to sell the current front/all-wheel drive models alongside the new rear/all-wheel drive vehicles.

    Suppliers have told Nikkei Asia production of the new models will ramp up to 300,000 units during the fiscal year ending in March 2025, or just under a fifth of Mazda’s global sales.

    When asked if the next-generation Large Architecture products would be gunning for established luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Mr Bhindi said the product strategy will stay true to the brand’s philosophy of offering premium products that also focus on value and the driver.

    “It is our plan to offer products that are classified as premium or seen as premium, but the value equation still needs to exit,” he said.

    “In Australia, there’s a clear luxury territory where the pricing reflects that, but that’s not where we are going to be. We are more about offering options but pushing towards the premium.”

    The current generation of CX-5 took a step upmarket with the introduction of a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, outpunching the up-spec engines of myriad rivals.

    In top-spec Akera trim, it also offers features like Nappa leather upholstery and real wood trim.

    MORE: Mazda CX-5 news, reviews, comparisons and videos

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers