Mazda CX-7 | Auto Express

8 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda CX-7 | Auto Express
Mazda CX-7

Mazda CX-7

23 Apr, 2008 1:59pm Comments

Is it an SUV? Or a sports car? Mazda tries to blend both – and succeeds

Meet the motoring equivalent of a square peg in a round hole. We’re not sure exactly where the Mazda CX-7 fits in the SUV class. It’s only available with petrol power when the sales charts are dominated by diesel models, while its dimensions and price tag mean it falls into neither the compact nor full-size 4×4 sectors.

Bosses at Mazda say it’s designed to be used on tarmac, and make no claims about off-road ability. Instead, the CX-7 is meant to blend the all-wheel-drive security and raised seating position of an SUV with the involving road manners of a sports car.

It certainly stands out from the crowd, with its pronounced wheelarches, narrow headlights and prominent grille. In fact, it looks sporty and far more upmarket than the £23,960 price tag suggests.

Inside, the cowled instruments are clearly inspired by the RX-8, while the dash is smart, solid and well laid out.

Room in the rear and boot space are adequate, although again, Mazda doesn’t boast about its practicality.

Rather, the focus is all on the driving experience, and the sporty three-spoke steering wheel hints at this as soon as you climb aboard. On the move, the Mazda immediately feels more involving and alive than most SUVs. The ride is firm, but the damping does a superb job of absorbing bumps, while excellent body control means the CX-7 is sure-footed through corners.

There’s an impressive lack of dive under braking, and the steering provides plenty of feedback. The six-speed manual gearbox delivers slick shifts to stir the best out of the 256bhp turbocharged 2.3-litre engine, too.

This unit is borrowed from the 6 MPS hot hatch, and combines strong pace – the 0-60mph sprint is completed in 7.9 seconds – with impressive refinement. So it’s only the raised seating position that reminds you this Mazda isn’t a normal sports saloon.

Diesel SUV owners will shudder at the sight of the CX-7’s 27.2mpg official combined economy, while CO2 emissions of 243g/km don’t make it a tempting business choice. But without off-road kit such as low-ratio boxes and locking differentials, the Mazda is lighter and more efficient than lots of SUVs.

Slow sales suggest buyers have been confused by what the CX-7 is supposed to be. Yet this guarantees exclusivity. And when you consider how stylish and good to drive it is, if you can see beyond the car’s identity crisis, the £23,960 price looks good value.

Details

Price: £23,960

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