Automobiles

Mazda thinks big in Frankfurt with Koeru crossover SUV concept

A preview for an upcoming large crossover SUV, Mazda's Koeru concept looks ready for the road.

The concept's name, Koeru, means to "exceed" or "go beyond" in the Japanese language. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

FRANKFURT -- Following the minuscule Mazda2 hatchback, the compact CX-3 and the even more miniature MX-5 Miata , Mazda gives us a forward look at the larger end of its lineup with the Koeru crossover SUV concept.

The concept's broad strokes most likely preview the upcoming CX-9 full-sized crossover SUV; a very thinly veiled preview, as the fleshed-out Koeru looks nearly road-ready. This makes sense as the production version of the CX-9 is expected to bow in just a few months at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Blacked-out A-pillars create a "floating roof" illusion and help in creating a svelte appearance. However, it's the steeply sloped rear pillars that have me questioning the true nature of this concept. The current CX-9 is a 7-seater and there doesn't look to be much headroom beneath the Koeru's nearly horizontal rear glass. This makes me wonder if the Koeru concept, in fact, a herald of the Mazda CX-7's return to the automaker's stable sometime next year? We'll poke around the concept more and try to find out.

In the flesh, the Koeru appears to retain a footprint similar to the current CX-9, but its body appears to hunker closer to the ground, making the crossover appear more athletic and compact than the current model's upright silhouette. Whether this is due to a reduction in roof height or just a trick of the eye caused by the concepts steeply raked front and rear glass remains to be seen.

The Koeru concept applies the latest iteration of the automaker's "Kodo: Soul of Motion" design language with its Mazda6-esque front end dominated by a large, heptagonal grille. The headlamps and daytime running lights are LED illuminated and, along with the horizontal tail lights, feature a design that is similar to that of the compact Mazda CX-3 and CX-5 .

No official mention has yet been made of what engine lives beneath the Koeru's hood, only that "the latest SkyActiv technologies ensure the model provides outstanding environmental performance without compromising on Mazda's renowned driving pleasure." We'll hope to hear more about the mechanicals later this year.