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Mazda CX-7 2.2 Diesel

Click to view picture gallery“Mazda could be seen to be
  following in the footsteps of Henry
  Ford by offering its revised and
  re-engined CX-7 sports crossover
  as a one-model, one-spec package.

  However, there is a choice of
five colours and Yes, one of them
  is black!

THE VERY WELCOME NEWS is that the latest re-engineered and sleeker new-generation CX-7 is now powered exclusively by an all-new 170bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel that on paper does 37.7mpg a week's hard-driving in our test model saw us come pretty close to matching that with an overall consumption of 33.7mpg.

City and extra-urban economy figures are 31 and 42.8mpg. Top speed is 124mph and the diesel-powered CX-7 will get you to 62mph in 11.3 seconds and while we're doing the figures, CO2 emission are 199g/km. The most interesting figure is the torque generated by the 2.2-litre unit: a hefty 295lb ft from 2,000rpm.

At 26,550 the CX-7 is quite likely an alternative buy to the likes of, say, Audi's Q5 2.0 TDI. As such it needs to be well specified — and it is. Apart from a single option (460 for metallic paint), the CX-7 comes with a whole raft of high-end kit that includes an integrated SatNav with a compact 4.1-inch colour display, leather upholstery, climate control air-conditioning, rear view reversing camera, power adjustable and heated front seats, driver's seat with memory and lumbar adjustment, premium BOSE audio system with 9 speakers and a 6-CD autochanger, combined Bluetooth 'phone and MP3-player control system, Multi Information Display including trip computer, AUX input jack for MP3 players, privacy glass (rear and rear side windows), electrically-adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors, power windows (one-touch auto down for the driver), cruise control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensitive automatic front wipers, dusk-sensing automatic headlights, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, Xenon headlights, front fog lamps and 19-inch alloy wheels. That's a heck of a lot of premium equipment for just 26K.

“The driving position is
SUV-style commanding
and getting it
personalised just right
is simple thanks to
electric seat
adjustment with three
memory settings
And there's more — on the safety front the CX-7 comes with ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signalling (activates the hazard warning lights whenever the driver brakes suddenly and/or heavily), Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System, Rear Vehicle Monitoring lane-change assist system (covers your blind spots), tyre pressure warning system, driver and passenger front airbags plus front-side and curtain airbags and, of course, Active Torque 4WD.

And it's all stylishly packaged into a sleekly sporting 4.7-metre long five-door body with distinguishing wheel arches wrapped around beefy 19-inch alloy wheels. The rising waistline combines with the tapering glasshouse to create a four-door coupe profile, an impression strengthened by the fiercely raked front screen and large, steeply-angled tailgate. In short, the 'born-again' CX-7 looks great; sexy with real road presence.

The cabin gives off a pronounced and decidedly modern luxury feel and, as already mentioned, it has pretty much everything. Three deep nacelles house the rev-counter, speedometer and fuel/temperature gauges, all with easily readable graphics. Fitted neatly just under the top of the fascia is a horizontal panel housing the driver's information display and, immediately to its right, the 4.1-inch colour screen for the SatNav that also displays the view from the rear parking camera whenever reverse gear is engaged.

The wide centre stack is well populated by switchgear, predominantly for the audio but with straightforward climate controls positioned beneath them. All the buttons are symmetrically laid out and look very similar so that on first acquaintance it's a tad confusing but acclimatisation doesn't take long. Crucial controls, however, are all easy to find and operate.

“Mazda has re-tuned
the CX-7
s suspension
for a sportier drive
but although quite firmly
sprung the ride
is surprisingly good and
the suspension
retains enough give to deal capably with potholes
and speed humps
The driving position is SUV-style commanding and getting it personalised just right is simple thanks to electric seat adjustment with three memory settings and plenty of height and reach from the leather-clad steering wheel. The three-spoke wheel also houses remote controls for the audio, SatNav, driver's information/trip computer as well as cruise control so apart from changing gear or indicating, it's not often that the driver needs to take his hands off the wheel. And as it's a particularly comfortable wheel to hold, so much the better.

Good visibility and an excellent view of the road make the CX-7 an easy and relaxing car to drive. Large door mirrors afford a clear view of what's coming up behind you while the clever Rear Vehicle Monitoring system warns you when other vehicles enter your blind spots: when this happens, or a car comes past at speed, a small orange symbol appears in the door mirror. The six-speed manual gearbox's short-throw action makes for snappy gear changing and the direct steering is on the light-ish side but it all adds up to a likeable and easy-going character.

This latest CX-7 benefits from revised gear ratios introduced for better refinement and economy and this is validated by lower cabin noise. Sixth gear is more of an overdrive and makes cruising on motorways a particularly relaxed affair. Power delivery is smooth but even with 295lb ft on tap acceleration never presses you back in your seat. There is, however, a good showing of strong mid-range shove from around 1,700rpm so in-gear acceleration is brisk.

Although it doesn't feel big from behind the wheel, the CX-7 is, at almost five metres long, quite a large car (actually it's a similar size to a Porsche Cayenne: the slightly bigger Porsche is 5.75 inches longer, 2.79 wider and 2.36 inches taller). The leather seats are noticeably large and supportive and it's roomy in all directions whether you're sitting in the front or in the back of the CX-7. Outer armrests integrated into each front door provide extra comfort while rear passengers can share a large drop-down central armrest with built-in cup-holders.

“It’s certainly sure-footed enough for you
to have fun with and
t object to being
slung around some —
if anything,
the CX-7 encourages you
to ramp it up
In other words there's more than enough room inside for the CX-7 to serve as a practical family car. While looking fairly dramatic from outside, the sloping roofline doesn't steal any headroom and while three adults can travel side-by-side in the back, two adults or three children make the best combinations.

The CX-7's tail harbours a more than adequate boot — with the back seats upright there's 455 litres available for luggage. Lower the easy-folding 60:40 split/folding rear seats and you have a respectable 774-litre load bay. Combined with a level load bay floor and wide tailgate, this makes the CX-7 ideal for multi-activity lifestyles. As, too, does its ability to tow 1,800kg.

Mazda has re-tuned the CX-7's suspension for a sportier drive but although quite firmly sprung the ride is surprisingly good and the suspension retains enough give to deal capably with lumps, bumps, potholes and even speed humps. And despite the big 19-inch wheels and wide 235/55 tyres, everybody who rode in the CX-7 agreed that the ride was fine.

The CX-7's Active Torque all-wheel drive system is not there so much for off-roading as to keep the CX-7 glued to the road: when necessary it can send up to half of the drive to the rear wheels for maximum grip. Mazda clearly intended their sporty crossover to 'handle' and thanks to the stiffer bodyshell, re-worked suspension (fully independent front with MacPherson struts and fully independent multi-link rear) it does so in an agile manner that belies its long footprint.

In fact, whatever you throw at the CX-7 there's always a reassuring level of traction to back you up. It's certainly sure-footed enough for you to have fun with and doesn't object to being slung around some — if anything, it encourages you to ramp it up. The electric-hydraulic assisted rack-and-pinion steering is precise at the helm (although it could use additional feedback) turning the CX-7 into corners with gusto and Yes, there is a touch of lean in bends but nothing off-putting. The brakes — ventilated discs front and rear — have decent progression and more than enough bite to keep things in check.

So dare to be different: get yourself down to your nearest Mazda dealer and take a test drive. We're betting you'll be glad you did. — MotorBar

Mazda CX-7 2.2 Diesel
| 26,550
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds | Overall test MPG: 33.7mpg
Power: 170bhp | Torque: 256lb ft | CO2 199g/km