PLAY THE LONG-DIS­TANCE GAME

QUICK GLANCE VER­DICT

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - Craig Duff

VALUE

The top-spec Asaki is dearer than the big­ger, petrol-pow­ered CX-9 equiv­a­lent but if you’re a fan of diesels with car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, there’s a lot to like. It looks like a slat-grilled CX-5 from front-on, is long enough to take three rows of seats and yet nar­row enough not to fill out road lanes or car park spa­ces. A five-year/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty is backed by capped price ser­vic­ing that will cost $1418 for the first four an­nual/10,000km check-ups.

COM­FORT

The cabin lay­out is typ­i­cally up-mar­ket Mazda with clear pre­sen­ta­tion, leather up­hol­stery and wood in­lays. There’s de­cent room in the first two sets of seats; the third row is, as with most of the 5+2 seaters, best left to the ju­nior mem­bers of the fam­ily. Those seats are heated in the front and outer sec­ond-row pews. There are like­wise air­con con­trols and air vents for the sec­ond row but those down the back miss out.

SAFETY

The CX-8 blitzed its AN­CAP crash-test with a five-star rat­ing capped by a 96 per cent adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion. The big SUV’s low­est score was a still-im­pres­sive 72 per cent for vul­ner­a­ble road user (rid­ers and pedes­tri­ans) pro­tec­tion. The au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing was praised for its op­er­a­tion at var­i­ous speeds but the lane-keep as­sist was deemed “mar­ginal” for not hav­ing an emer­gency lane keep­ing func­tion. There are six airbags, with the cur­tains ex­tend­ing to the third row, and a head-up dis­play to keep your at­ten­tion on the road. DRIV­ING

En­gine clat­ter from the twin-turbo diesel can be heard on a cold start but quells quickly once the flu­ids start cir­cu­lat­ing. Mazda’s work on mak­ing the cabin qui­eter has paid off, with road noise only in­trud­ing on re­ally coarse chip sur­faces. The CX-8 weighs about 200kg more than a com­pa­ra­ble CX-5 so it isn’t quite as re­spon­sive when over­tak­ing or tak­ing off, with­out be­ing close to a slouch. The ride is more re­laxed than most Maz­das, keep­ing the oc­cu­pants happy when travers­ing speed humps and cor­ru­ga­tions. AL­TER­NA­TIVES

KIA SORENTO GT-LINE $63,500-$65,700 DRIVE-AWAY

Seven seats, seven-year war­ranty, well equipped and an im­pres­sive drive — but it’s big­ger to man­han­dle around town than the CX-8.

HYUNDAI SANTA FE HIGHLANDER $65,200-$66,900 DRIVE-AWAY

Shares its diesel en­gine and eight-speed auto with the Kia, along with much of the safety tech. It’s a more spa­cious, less stylish op­tion.

MAZDA CX-8 ASAKI PRICE

EN­GINE

SAFETY THIRST The CX-8 gives Mazda a player in the diesel SUV peo­ple-mover mar­ket but is hard to jus­tify over the big­ger and equally equipped petrol CX-9 un­less a lot of longdis­tance driv­ing is in­tended.

MIT­SUBISHI PAJERO SPORT EX­CEED $56,990 DRIVE-AWAY

Full-of-fruit and a bar­gain at this price, which holds un­til the end of Oc­to­ber. It isn’t as spe­cial look­ing in­side as the Mazda.

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