Mazda Motor Corp. begins the transfusion of its “Zoom-Zoom” mantra into the cross/utility segment with the start of production of its all-new CX-7 CUV at its Ujina Plant No.2 near Hiroshima, Japan.

Designed and engineered for the North American market, the new CUV is set to appear on U.S. dealer lots in spring with base prices ranging from $24,310 to $28,560 (including $560 for destination).

CX-7 also represents “the first of a series of important vehicles for the North American market,” says Mazda President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki. (See related story: Mazda CX-7 Leads Parade of North American Products)

Mazda says the new vehicle, which debuted last month at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show and features a 244-hp, turbocharged 2.3L 4-cyl. engine, blends the capabilities of an SUV with the soul of a sports car, making it “inviting to look at, entertaining to drive and fun to use.” (See related story: V-6s Endangered Species At Mazda?)