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Headline:AutoRoadTests.com Mazda CX-7 2.3i RoadtestDate:22/07/2007
Source:AutoRoadTests.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:AutoRoadTests.com Mazda CX-7 2.3i Roadtest

 
 

AutoRoadTests.com
Review

 

The Mazda CX-7







 
   
 

RSPV SUV

Weíve just got back from the launch of the latest car to come out of Mazdaís Zoom-Zoom stable. The new CX-7 SUV.

Over the last few years the term SUV has become a household acronym standing for Sports Utility Vehicle and with it, it conjures up the idea of an alternative lifestyle and driving experience. Perhaps thatís why the car buying public have adopted this combination of family hatchback & Off-road vehicle so closely to their hearts.

Now Iíll agree, thereís not exactly a shortage of SUVís on the road already, each offering 4WD and a higher driving position than your general run of the mill family hatchback. However it has to be said that most of the existing models seem aimed towards the second-car market with few of them making it further than the daily school run or trips to the local supermarket. Perhaps the S in SUV would be more correctly re-termed as Suburban rather than Sports.

You see SUVís like the Land Rover Freelander II, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 whilst offering all the attributes looked for in a versatile family car, seem to fall short of the mark in driving experience.

Mazda aims to change that with this new CX-7 model.

So keen are they to differentiate this model from the rest of the competition that the press packs proudly announce, that CX-7 is not just an SUV but a Crossover Sports Utility Vehicle. So is that CSUV?

In actual fact the badge tells a fuller story. C stands for Crossover, whilst X is for Sports and the 7, well thatís just common sense, this is the 7th in the Mazda model line up. It sits just between the family sized Mazda6 and the sporty RX-8 which it hopes to emulate in driving experience.

So what makes the CX-7 more than just another SUV, what makes it worthy of the crossover name, itís not just with a trendy new tagline and pretty styling that Mazda hope to convince buyers away from the already strong competition. Well for starters this is a single engine model and unlike the rest of the competition itís petrol powered rather than diesel, that youíd expect, under the bonnet; but not just any petrol engine, the CX-7 is powered by the superb 2.3 DISI turbo petrol engine that is found in the very capable Mazda6 and Mazda3 MPS models.

Exterior Styling

The CX-7 was launched last Spring in the US and then followed by a December launch in Japan, itís now the turn of Europe, with models hitting the road around the beginning of September.

 


Spot the family resemblence?
This is a whole new model from Mazda but from first glance you can see the family genes. The front end is a distinct cross between Mazda6 and Mazda3 but also shares certain looks of the RX-8.

The deep front lower grill, wraps around to the integral indicator and fog lamp housings. Further up the bonnet the thin grill line at the base of the sculptured bonnet is punctuated with the Mazda logo with the flared front wheel arches to either side shaped almost reminiscent of the RX-8 front end.

In side profile too the CX-7 is more car like than many of itís competitors with a kicked up waist line and sloping roof and striking 18Ē Y spoke style alloy wheels helping to fill the large wheel arches.

At the rear the sportier design clues continue, with two large tailpipes at either side and and interlocking circular design tail-lights. Although in truth I think the reflective silver rear lights are a little too aftermarket for my liking, working better on certain colours and less on others.

The CX-7 will be available in 5 body colours:

  • Brilliant Black
  • Aurora Blue Mica*
  • Copper Red Mica*
  • Galaxy Grey Mica*
  • Graphite Silver Metallic*

    *Optional Cost

    Our test car was in Aurora Blue Mica

  •  

    Interior Styling

      As with the exterior, the interior of the CX-7 is a well-balanced blend of functionality and style with good strong design touches scattered throughout the cabin.

     

    High quality cabin looks the part

    The materials used are, as youíd expect, of a high standard with much less visible plastic surfaces from that of the sector competition, with mixes of tactile rubber and brushed steel to lift certain key areas.

    The centre console is very well laid out with all the stereo and heater controls falling easily within touch and good storage space including the now pre-requisite cupholders in the central tunnel. A high level LCD display displays information like consumption, temperature, time and radio settings.

    The stylish 3 section dash pod features a centrally mounted speedo with the rev counter and displays for engine temperature and fuel flanking either side.

    The leather clad sport style steering wheel, which is similar to the one found in the MX-5, is perfectly sized and weighted and comes complete with controls for the stereo and cruise control functions.

    Leather seats are standard on the CX-7 which is a nice touch on a model in this price sector and something not even found on the more premium BMW X3 model. Black leather is standard across all models with stone leather being available on either the Blue or Red exterior colour models also.



    Mazda has also once again teamed up with BOSEģ when designing the 9 speaker audio system of the CX-7 which comes as standard with a 6 disc CD Autochanger and whilst there is no standard IPOD connection, this is available as an option.

     
     

    Ride, Handling & Steering

      Heading out onto the country roads around Paris the first thing that struck us was just how car-like the CX-7 was, now I know that nowadays every manufacturer likes to make claims about just how their SUV or 4x4 models handle just like a car; but in truth as weíve seen time and time again many of these claims rarely ring true.

     


    Drives like a car... no really
    Invariably thereís always a compromise in ride and handling in any SUV and weíd be lying to say that the CX-7 was totally exempt from this. Of course there is still a little body roll but overall the ride is much firmer than most in this sector yet crucially not so hard that itís unbearable to drive around town, over the now commonplace speed bumps and potholes - yes they have these in France too!

    The chassis is very similar to that used in the Mazda6 MPS with MacPerson struts at the front and a mutli-link rear suspension setup, which is intended to take up the camber of the road whilst keeping the chassis in as near a vertical position as possible even when cornering hard.

    Before launching the CX-7 onto the European market the engineers at Mazda Japan and Europe worked hard to improve the ride and handling characteristics over the US and Japanese models in order to deliver the type of handling that is expected by the European market and this involved putting the car through itís paces on Germanyís infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit. What has resulted is a large 5 seater SUV that remains stable even at very high motorway speeds and provides great feedback through the steering whilst all the time remaining comfortable to drive.

     

    Engine, Gearbox and Performance

     

     


    MPS power ensures sporty performance thanks to 256bhp and 280lbft
    The CX-7 is powered by the same 2.3-litre petrol direct injection turbo charged, 4-cylinder, MZR engine already found in the Mazda 3 & Mazda6 MPS models. This engine has proved very successful already and is certainly one of our favourites and here in the CX-7 itís once again mated to the AWD transmission of the Mazda6 to give permanent four wheel drive.

    For a car that can easily seat 5 and carry all of their luggage the stats are very impressive: 256 BHP (260 PS) at 5500 rpm and 280lb ft (380Nm) at 3000 rpm are enough to launch the CX-7 from 0-62 mph (0-100km/h) in 8.0 sec and onto an electronically limited 131mph (210km/h) making it one of the best performers in itís sector.

    The 6-speed gearbox, also lifted straight from the Mazda6 MPS, is a joy to use featuring a sporty short throw from gear to gear and with so much torque on tap thereís no shortage of power from almost every gear. We found fourth gear to be the most rewarding gear from almost any speed.

    The power delivery of the turbo is smooth and the turbo noise whilst still evident is less intrusive here than in the other same engined Mazda models.

     
     

    Practicality

      The CX-7 has a host of great features on this single specification UK model which should appeal to those in the market for a sporty and stylish SUV.

     

    No diesel - but good spec.
    Standard Specification includes (among many others):
  • All-disc braking with ABS
  • Front and side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags
  • ISOFIX child seat anchoring points
  • Xenon headlamps with auto levelling and cleaning
  • Front fog Lamps
  • Auto headlights and rain sensing auto wipers
  • Climate control and auto air conditioning
  • Electric drivers seat adjustment
  • Heated front seats
  • Dark privacy glass

    In fact there are so many standard items that thereís few options available to add to the car (just 6 in total)

  • Front & rear park distance sensors
  • Side steps
  • Rear bumper step plate
  • Towbar
  • Roof carrier
  • Ipod connector

    The 455 litre boot space is both large and easy to access and provides more than enough room for all 5 passengers and at a touch of a button the 60/40 split seats fold flat to transform this into a van like storage space.

    Despite being petrol powered the economy of the CX-7 isnít too shabby:
    Urban 20.5mpg
    Extra Urban 34.9mpg
    Combined 27.5mpg

    But despite this we feel that many may overlook this petrol engine option from Mazda in favour of a diesel alternative as this seems flavour of the month at the moment.

    Co2 figures for the CX-7 is 243g/km

    The car has yet to undergo the Euro NCAP crash safety test but we predict a 5 star result as it obtained in the comparative US tests.

    The CX-7 will be priced at £23,960 OTR with metallic/mica paint £375 when it goes on sale in September.

  •  

    Conclusion

      The SUV market is already a fierce place to be competing in and despite this Mazda maintains that there are no plans at the moment to introduce either a diesel or automatic option to the CX-7 range. Itís clear that this will limit itís appeal to those tempted by the petrol CX-7. But Mazda are quite realistic with their targets for this new model aiming at just 7000 cars for the whole of Europe with just over 1000 between the UK and Ireland which given the attributes of the CX-7 should be fairly easy to achieve.

    Whilst this model may not appeal to the whole diesel loving family sector, I would guess that there is just as big a market out there of 30-somethings that still yearn for that performance feel and driving pleasure and yet have found themselves caught up in the 2.5 children syndrome that life invariably throws at us all.

    For this demographic the CX-7 ticks many of the boxes, like competitive pricing, great styling and loads of space with performance to match many much smaller and lighter cars.

    We think this car will be a great success when it goes on sale in the autumn and canít wait to test it more fully in the UK and see how it fares on some of the poorer surfaced B roads that our little island has to offer, although I have a feeling weíll still be equally impressed.

    To find out more details on how to place your order for the CX-7 visit Mazdaís dedicated website: www.newmazdacx-7.com

     
    Andy.
     
     
    Quick Section Links:         
    1. Background
    2. Exterior Styling
    3. Interior Styling
    4. Ride, Handling and Steering
    5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
    6. Practicality
    7. Conclusion

    Related Links:         



    Our Road Test of the Mazda 3 MPS


    Our Road Test of the Mazda 6 MPS



    Full Set of Photos taken during the test



    Mazda's CX-7 website

    Mazda's UK website

     2823

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