NEW to the market and new to Mazda, the Mazda CX-8 is more than just a carefully calculated gamble on the part of the New Zealand distributor. It is a statement of innovation and a demonstration of Mazda’s technical brilliance and attention to detail. While the CX-8 appears to be something of a luxury addition to the Mazda SUV stable – already home to the larger CX-9, slightly smaller CX-5 and compact CX-3, the question of 'why the CX-8' is a valid one. The CX-8 complements the existing range, rather than replacing anything in it, and this is easily demonstrated with the announcement of an exclusively diesel-powered range offering – CX-9 is petrol-only. The smaller CX-5 meantime has created a broad niche market as a professional vehicle whereas Mazda’s CX-8 – with its additional two seats – blurs the boundaries between a fleet-only vehicle and a user chooser transport at weekends. In addition, the CX-8 delivers Mazda’s very latest SKYACTIV technology – which defines mechanical excellence by optimising engines, body, chassis and powertrains as individual elements of the whole and then bringing them all into one refined amalgamation to suit each specific vehicle application. The CX-8 features the next generation SKYACTIV-D diesel engine, which reaps the benefits of variable turbine geometry turbocharger technology, as well as new rapid, multi-stage combustion for greater efficiency, more power and torque and quieter performance. Output is 140kw at 4500rpm and 450Nm at 2000rpm with a factory consumption figure of six litres per 100km through an AWD transmission system. Mazda has also remained true to its design philosophies in the delivery of the CX-8 which ably demonstrates those same philosophies. Most notable of these is Jinba Ittai, which translates to the horse and rider as one, or in Mazda’s context, the car and the driver as one. The Mazda CX-8 also demonstrates Mazda’s commitment to technology with its iactivsense driver support package, which brings together a raft of proven and complete safety technologies, including but not limited to: Mazda Radar cruise control with stop/go, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed assistance, advanced smart city brake support, lane departure and lane keeping assist. Our award therefore, is not merely given over for bravery in entering a turbulent and fickle market with a completely new vehicle concept, but also for the execution, design and delivery of a vehicle of such refined build quality and sophistication.