Mazda CX-7 sports utility vehicle
- Responsive drive
- Extensive kit list
- Eye-catching styling
- Boot not as big as rivals
- Cabin plastics lack quality feel
- Only one model offered
"If you want a sporty SUV, the Mazda CX-7 is fun to drive and is reasonably roomy, if not the biggest 4x4 on the market."
Rakish looks, good to drive and brimming with equipment, the Mazda CX-7 is a great all-rounder. It's marketed as a 4x4 that's not designed to go off road, and aims to blend SUV looks with the sharp handling of Mazda's RX-8 and MX-5 sports cars. Inside, you'll find a spacious, comfortable cabin, although carrying capacity can't match rivals such as Audi's Q5. But then that long kit list is very attractive - you'd have to spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to get a Q5 up to a similar specification.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Reasonably clean and economical
A powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine is never going to offer supermini-rivalling running costs, but ecomony of 38mpg and emissions of 199g/km are reasonable. The CX-7 sits in Road Tax Band J, which costs £245 a year.
Interior & comfort
Thanks to supple suspension, ride is smooth and quiet
Apart from a little diesel clatter at idle, the CX-7's engine is incredibly quiet. Tyre noise is minimal and the SUV's pliant suspension provides a smooth ride. The view of the road ahead is good thanks to the high driving position, and there's plenty of wheel and seat adjustment to create the perfect driving position.
Practicality & boot space
Ample interior space, average sized boot
There's enough space inside the CX-7 for five, with plenty of leg and headroom for passengers. However, there's no seven-seat option and boot space is only adequate at 455 litres. Fold them down, using a simple one-touch mechanism, and this rises to 774 litres, which trails class leaders.
Reliability & safety
Robustly built, some shiny cabin plastics
Mazda has an excellent reliability record, and we expect the CX-7 to present few problems. The cabin feels well put together, although the plastics don't feel as high quality as those used in Audi's Q5. For added peace of mind, there's a three-year/60,000 mile warranty. A four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating is reasonable.
Engines, drive & performance
Composed handling and strong performance make for a great driving experience
This is where the Mazda CX-7 really excels. There's only a 171bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit available, but it's refined and delivers punchy performance – the Mazda can sprint from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds. Steering is sharp and direct, the six-speed manual gearbox provides slick shifts, and the CX-7 is impressively agile in corners. Four-wheel drive boosts the SUV's all-weather capabilities, while strong brakes round off a fun driving package.
Price, value for money & options
Comprehensively equipped and with a bargain price tag
Sport Tech is the only trim option available on the CX-7. However, it features plenty of standard equipment, including electrically-operated heated leather seats, sat-nav, xenon lights, cruise control, 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, plus a reversing camera. The only one options are metallic paint, plus roof racks and tow bars. The Mazda undercuts the Audi Q5 on price, and you'd have to add lots of costly options to that car to match the CX-7's standard kit list.
What the others say
On the outside the CX-7 now benefits from a larger lower grille, redesigned fog lights and a larger roof spoiler. There's also a resculpted rear bumper, 19-inch alloy wheels as standard and additional chrome trim on the boot handle and along the sills. Elsewhere the distinctive kink in the shoulder line and swollen wheel arches remain, giving the 4x4 a more dynamic look than most of its rivals in the compact SUV segment.
It certainly looks distinctive and more athletic than traditional off roaders while the 260bhp petrol engine (borrowed from the high performance Mazda 6 MPS) gives it the performance to back-up those good looks. It's great to drive too and feels like a sporty saloon rather than a 4x4 with responsive steering and excellent body control.
The new-look Mazda CX-7 comes with a choice of five exotic-sounding colours, but just one high-powered diesel engine, in what Mazda says is a "single, highly-specified" model.
The CX-7 has the dynamics to match its sporty looks. It's roomy, well built and generously equipped, too
Last updated: 15 Jul 2013