Mazda will unveil a plug-in hybrid SUV based on a new platform March 8.

The Mazda CX-60 will be the first model to use a new rear-wheel drive platform, according to a UK press release from the company. Hinted at for several years now, the new platform is a big departure from the front-wheel drive platforms used by all of Mazda's current SUVs.

Mazda aspires to become a premium brand, so it's promising upscale materials and a unique design theme for the CX-60's interior.


Mazda CX-60 teaser

Mazda CX-60 teaser

The design will embody the Japanese idea of Kaichô, which Mazda describes as the harmony which comes from mixing different materials and textures. Said materials will include Nappa leather, maple wood trim, Japanese textiles, and chrome, according to Mazda. The Japanese Musubu style of binding textiles also inspired the CX-60's instrument panel stitching, the automaker noted.

After trying to avoid electrification by increasing the efficiency of its internal-combustion engines, Mazda abruptly unveiled a long-term electrification strategy last year. The automaker is planning a dedicated EV platform around mid-decade, with a multitude of plug-in hybrids and hybrids before then.

Some of those hybrids will include collaborations with Toyota—although a shared EV with Toyota is unlikely for the United States. The two automakers announced plans to collaborate on electrification technology in 2017, and recently opened a joint assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama, which is currently building the Toyota Corolla Cross crossover. 

For now, Mazda is calling the rotary-engine-equipped version of the MX-30, due in the U.S. within the next year, a series plug-in hybrid. The MX-30 is Mazda's first regular-production electric car, but its EPA-rated 100-mile range isn't really adequate compared to other current EVs.

The rollout of hybrids and plug-in hybrids goes against what Mazda underscored for years—and its own internal findings from last decade: that drivers prefer fully electric or internal combustion models over hybrids or plug-in hybrids.