Mazda CX-7 2.2D Sport
By Jon Smith
MAZDA captured the hearts of sports car fans with the evergreen MX-5 – a budget roadster that punches well above its weight.
And in the family car sector the 6 saloon/hatch and estate have proved a viable and individual alternative to the ubiquitous Mondeo and Insignia.
But its presence in the increasingly important SUV sector has been less high profile.
At the top of the Mazda range is the CX-7, a chunky off-roader with bulging wheel arches and almost coupe-style profile which gives it a strong road presence.
From the start it sets out to offer better driving dynamics than the average four-wheel-drive. The Japanese marque has carried the ‘Zoom-Zoom’ message over from its spirited sports car and saloons to the SUV line-up which has this year been expanded with the smaller and more frugal CX-5.
The CX-7 comes with a 170bhp, 2.2 turbo diesel engine which endows it with a reasonable turn of speed – max is 124mph and it hits 62mph in 11.1 seconds, hardly neck-snapping velocity but sufficient to match most rivals.
It comes into its own, however, by possessing the sort of honed road manners that you’d expect to find in finely-tuned sporting saloon.
Originally, the CX-7 was only available with petrol power – punchy but too expensive at the pumps for most. That engine has now been abandoned and only the diesel is available in Britain.
Steering is neither heavy nor over-light and it offers plenty of feedback to the driver. This is complemented by secure and relatively roll-free cornering making the CX-7 fun and satisfying to punt around twisty roads.
It’s more aimed at the keen driver who may take occasional excursions off-road, rather than the dedicated mud-lugger whose dream is conquering the north face of the Eiger in a snow storm...
The four cylinder diesel is well up to the job of hauling the 4.7m long five seater and remains vibration-free and willing throughout the rev range.
The six-speed manual gearbox is slick with a long final ratio for relaxed cruising. With an emissions level of 199g/km, it isn’t miserly at the pumps compared with some of the latest competition. The official combined average is 37.7mpg and my average over 500-miles hovered around 32mpg.
Priced at £27,595, the CX comes well-kitted out with bags of standard equipment including Bluetooth, sat nav, front and rear electric windows, leather seating, MP3 connectivity and climate control. Just about the only extra is metallic paint.
The cabin and facia are stylishly designed yet have an air of tough durability. There’s plenty of room for four – and perhaps five at a pinch - with ample head and legroom and there’s no shortage of storage space.
The boot can carry 455 litres of luggage with five passengers on board and 774 litres with rear seats folded – not a huge cargo capacity considering the vehicle’s size.
With a number of design cues taken from the late sporty Mazda RX coupe, including those emphasised wheel-arches, the CX was ahead of its time in being one of the first ‘coupe-crossovers’.
Mazda CX-7 2.2D Sport
Mechanical: 170bhp, 2,198cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 11.1 seconds
Combined mpg: 37.7
Insurance group: 32
CO2 emissions: 199g/km
BiK rating: 33%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles