We had a strong hunch that Mazda's Koeru Concept was pointing to a production car, but we were never expecting to see an actual prototype on the road so soon.
A camouflaged tester was spied in China by Auto Sina featuring a production-ready body and interior with few changes over the study we saw at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this month.
As with some European publications, the Chinese are also naming it the CX-4, but we think that Mazda may instead revive the CX-7 moniker, since the concept looked more upscale and had a slightly bigger footprint than the CX-5, so it could be positioned between it and the upcoming CX-9 replacement.
While sharing the same 2,700mm (106.3 inch) wheelbase, the Koeru study is longer than the CX-5 at 4,600mm (181.1 inches) vs. 4,540mm (178.7in), notably wider at 1,900mm (74.8 inches) vs. 1,840 mm (72.4 inches) and quite lower at 1,500mm (59.1 inches) vs. 1,670 mm (65.7 inches).
In regards to the latter, the production car seems to have gained some height over the study to the benefit of passenger headroom and at the expense of its sporty profile.
If you want to nitpick, it also gets bigger and more practical in real life conditions exterior mirrors, auxiliary lights instead of air outlets on the corners of the lower rear apron, and less fancy trimmings and switchgear inside, but overall, the production model remains remarkably close to the concept.
Seeing how ready this tester is, we wouldn't be surprised if it arrived in the market within the next 18 months. Possible powertrain options could include Mazda's upcoming 2.5-liter Skyactiv turbo unit planned to debut on the next CX-9 in early 2016, together with a regular, naturally aspirated 2.5L Skyactive for North America, and a selection of smaller displacement petrols and diesels for Europe and elsewhere.
Thanks to Ken for the tip!