Mazda puts value for money to the fore in the battle to woo buyers from BMW
MAZDA launched its CX-7 sports estate in Britain in 2006 with a highperformance petrol engine and all-wheel-drive, which came just as buyers were turning tail to high fuel costs and soaring carbon emissions.
Its mpg in the mid-20s and high road tax weakened the allure of sharp handling and a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds. The nation was moving to economy motoring.
What it needed then was a diesel, and that model is at last on sale, replacing the feisty petrol model.
The Japanese-built car retains all-wheel-drive, though I am far from sure it is necessary on anything other than grass, mud or snow. Economy is disappointing.
Still, with up to half the power going to the back wheels, the CX-7 has good composure, and with 295 lb ft of torque, it shares the effort between all four wheels. A front-drive only chassis would be prone to steering squirm on damp roads.
The 2.2 turbo motor peaks at 170.6 bhp (173ps) which sounds a lot but the feel of the car is far from quick. It weighs more than 1,800kg with a driver on board. The official 0-62mph time endorses this relative sloth, at 11.3 seconds, with a top of 124mph.
Gears are a manual six in a single Sport Tech Diesel model which comes with everything from a mini sat nav display to Bose audio, for £26,550.
This take-it, leave-it deal brings the CX-7 in at a high price and means that the CX7 is never going to be highly visible in the street. My factory demo car attracted attention on that basis, I think: also, it has that Mazda “zoom-zoom” styling which may suit your tastes.
My view is that it is slightly brash and vulgar, but these things are personal, and behind the z-z body is a car that should serve reliably for many years.
What about economy? Well, Mazda’s showroom figures are 42.6 mpg extra urban, 31mpg urban and 37.7mpg overall, so my week’s average of 34mpg was not far off the official mark and on longer trips, drivers may well be nudging 40mpg with a bit of care.
The CO2 rating is disappointingly high, at 199g/km, which means high annual road tax for all and lofty business tax on company-owned cars.
The other thing is this. Its CX-7 name may suggest
The CO2 rating is disappointingly high, at 199g/km, which means high annual road tax.
seven seats but it is a conventional five-seater, albeit with Mazda’s dead easy one-touch fold system for the back seats.
As such, then, it pitches up against not only the seven-seater S-Max but various French and German high-economy diesel fiveseaters, some of them with 4x4 drive.
Paramount in this pack is the new BMW X1, sold with either front or all-wheel drive, and with higher mileage and lower emissions than the CX-7. BMW’s efficient dynamics give it a big gain.
The Mazda will have to rely on its value-for-money package, which is undoubtedly strong if you want a fully outfitted Mazda instead of a modestly attired BMW. Private buyers may also take up a zero-deposit purchase scheme over 24 months (at 3.9 per cent APR) or 36 months (5.9pc).
Highlights from the standard specification include heated front seats, leather, the premium audio unit, a reversing camera, climate control, cruise control, auto wipers and auto xenon lights, 19in alloys with 235/55 all-weather tyres, metallic or solid paint, plenty of airbags, a full stability and traction control system and warning of overtaking vehicles for lanechanging.
I got on well enough with the CX-7, though with the caveat that the reversing camera, while a boon and very accurate, does not monitor the corners of the vehicle in the same way that an audible sensor pad does.
As a “driver’s car” it handles nicely, with less roll than the typical MPV. But here’s the thing. The CX-7 is not an MPV. It is a variation on nothing more adaptable than a five-seater estate car with 4x4 traction.
Its everyday economy was lower than I would accept. On a gentle 30-mile rural/urban route it recorded 33.6mpg.
The bigger, seven-seat Peugeot 5008, with just front-drive and a weaker diesel engine, bettered that by 10 miles a gallon.
BMW’s xDrive, with a 143bhp/236 lb ft 2-litre diesel engine, records 49.6mpg overall, with just 150g/km of CO2 and a 062mph time of 10.1 seconds. It costs from £24,640 but is 10 inches shorter.
A straight size match is the S-Max and, disregarding the lower specification, the entry model with a 2-litre petrol engine costs £20,645 and returns a 34.9mpg average and 189g/km CO2.
The Mazda would have been more attractive at a lower price with a more economical drive train, but, presumably, Mazda considered all that.
I do not expect to see many CX-7s.
This is what Mazda’s UK chief, Mark Cameron, thinks about the latest CX-7: “Together with the five per cent stiffer bodyshell, re-tuned suspension, revised gear ratios and lower cabin noise, the latest CX-7 is a remarkably refined and sporty driving experience.
“It has great dynamics that out-perform the class.
“It’s the ultimate expression of ‘Zoom-Zoom’ driving excitement in a sophisticated Sports Crossover.”
RARE BREED: Mazda’s CX-7 is unlikely to be a familiar sight on Britain’s roads.