Ahead of Frankfurt Auto Show, Mazda CX-5 Makes Web Debut

Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts aside, few new cars are burdened with the weight of expectation like the Mazda CX-5 compact S.U.V., revealed online Tuesday ahead of its debut in September at the Frankfurt auto show.

The CX-5, a direct descendent of the Minagi concept shown at the Geneva auto show in March, heralds a new design direction for the brand and is the first showcase outside of its home market for Skyactiv, a suite of powertrain, transmission and aerodynamic features intended to squeeze considerable efficiency gains from internal-combustion technology. Skyactiv will find its way into the Mazda 3 as well and is expected to be featured in other Mazdas in coming years.

Mazda, virtually alone among major automakers, has foregone hybrid technology in favor of high-compression internal combustion engines. The CX-5 for the European market will feature two new units, a 2-liter gas engine and a 2.2-liter diesel. The brand has not announced output figures for the new engines, but claims that carbon emissions from the diesel should not exceed 120 grams per kilometer. Manual and automatic transmissions are offered to European customers, a choice likely to carry over to North America as well, given the brand’s enthusiast base.

Mazda needs the CX-5, as well as the new 3, to resonate with consumers as soon as the cars begin shipping in early 2012. Still reeling from the effects of the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the brand recently posted a quarterly loss of $327 million.

The CX-5’s Web debut is one of many expected in advance of the Frankfurt auto show, which officially begins its press previews on Sept. 15. Wheels will be running advance coverage of the show’s most highly anticipated debuts and will be on the convention floor in September.