SUV’s with good (off) road properties remain quite popular these days, and it is hardly surprising that Mazda has also launched a formidable contender in this segment, the CX-7. We got our first driving impressions of this car at the Zolder ecoweek, where we were impressed by the handling, performance and last but not least the frugality of the Diesel version of the CX-7.
We drove again this Diesel version here, as it is (by far) the most popular in this country, and again the car was very pleasing indeed.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Well- finished luxury
Our test car came in a very elegant "sparkling black" livery which combined very well with the chromed elements and suited the overall shape and lines of the car. The styling of the front end and the sweeping lines of body and rear end make the car look quite distinctive, despite its bigger dimensions which are so typical for a SUV. The same tasteful lightness and elegance is found in the interior, where also the excellent finish and quality of materials adds to the feeling of top end luxury which pervades one when sitting in the CX-7.
The shape and styling of the front seats with generous wrap around contours at the shoulder level warrant good seating comfort, and thanks to the electric adjustment one soon find the correct driving position.
The Diesel unit is quiet when not revved (too) hard, and is certainly refined enough by today’s high standards. Its ample torque of 400 Nm at 2000 rpm make for lively performance, and in traffic one hardly needs to rev more than 2000 rpm in the gears to keep up with the general flow. When called for, the CX-7 will sprint from 0 to 100 in 11,3 seconds, and reach a top speed of not less than 200 kph. Not surprising, as it delivers over 170 hp...
Consumption is very much a matter of driving style with a heavier car, and when driven intelligently, the CX-7 rewards you with an average of 7,5 litres per 100 km in the city, and as low as 6 litres per 100 km on the open road. During the test, we drove the CX-7 like a cautious owner would do, taking care not to rev the engine too high and making good use of its good torque characteristics, resulting in an average fuel consumption over the whole test distance of 6,7 litres per 100 km! When making more use of the availiable power, the average consumption will rise to a good 9 litres in town, and you will have to reckon with an average consumtion between 7,5 and 8,5 litres.
The 6-speed gearbox changes accurately and swiftly, with the gearshift lever being somewhat distant and high for your rather short-armed servant, but of course during the test we got more used to it.
Excellent road manners
In « normal » driving conditions, the road manners are quite good, with excellent road holding in long, fast bends, unerrring straight line stability, with the steering being accurate and sensitive. The car does not invite you to a dynamic driving style though, and one finds oneself more than often tempted to more relaxed driving. Having said this, we have to admit that we drove it with verve on the Zolder circuit !
Comfort is also beyond reproach, and the CX-7 copes well with our potholed Belgian city streets and country roads.
Our test car came equipped with an outstanding audio system, and the low noise levels of engine and drivetrain made classical music listening an undisturbed pleasure.
The CX-7 came also equipped witn an in-board navigation system, selecting the chosen destination looked initially somewhat cumbersome, but after some acquaintance we found that it rather easy and logical to use. One selects the numbers and letters by just flicking the up/down remote buttons on the steering wheel. After a few letter selections, the system shows you rather sooner than later the possible choices, which then can also be selected swiftly using the same button(s) n the left spoke of the steering wheel.
The CX-7 is very versatile, and rear seats can be folded down separately. The test car came also equipped with a fastening/protecting bar which prevents objects from sliding around when the luggage compartment is half empty. This bar or rail is one of those practical solutions we find every new car should have.
Another accessory we appreciated very much is the lane warning assist, or, as the factory calls it, the Rear Vehicle Monitoring system that detects cars approaching from behind or driving in the blind spot and warns the driver before he changes lanes. This system is incorporated in the outside rear view mirrors, and is truly helpful in today’s dense traffic conditions.
The CX-7 surprised us with outstanding economy, comfort, very good styling and finish. The road manners were quite good, and the car has very good performance with its new, clean-running and torquey diesel that has Euro Stage V compliance.
It certainly merits its place in the SUV segment, last but not least because of its very pleasing looks.
It is a car which gives an answer to virtually all the possible needs a driver/owner might have. It is a relaxed urban and open road cruiser, offers a good amount of space, interior comfort, refinement and versatility, has good creature comfort and road manners, and allows you to choose that scenic route off the beaten path once in a while.
Last but not least, this CX-7 proves again that the popularity of this car type is very justified indeed…
Hans Knol ten Bensel