Mazda CX-7 review
The Mazda CX-7 is a sporty 4x4 that offers the commanding view of an off-roader with the sharp handling of a sporty hatchback
The Mazda CX-7 is described as a ‘sports crossover’, and it’s certainly sleeker than most 4x4s. There’s hints of the racy RX-8 to its lines, and the car has an upmarket feel. Mazda has certainly done things differently; the firm even says the CX-7 isn't designed to go off-road, despite its raised ride height. Just the single 2.2-litre diesel model is offered, but it’s comprehensively equipped, with xenon lights, heated leather seats, climate and cruise control all fitted as standard. Rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 are cheaper, but the CX-7 undercuts cars such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.
Our choice: Mazda CX-7 2.2D Sport Tech
The Mazda CX-7's sharp nose and swept-back headlights take inspiration from the RX-8 sports car. The roof line is low, giving it a sporty look unlike anything else in the 4x4 class. Inside, the cowled instruments have a sporty look, while the steering wheel is like that from the MX-5. Everything is smart and well built, but the number of buttons on the dashboard makes it look a but cluttered.
The Mazda CX-7 feels more involving than most 4x4s. The ride is firm, but the damping does a good job of absorbing bumps, while excellent body control means the car is solid and sure-footed in corners. The steering offers plenty of feedback, too. In fact, it’s only the raised view of the road ahead that reminds you the Mazda isn’t an ordinary saloon. Stability is reassuring and there’s no suspension dive under heavy braking, while the six-speed manual transmission is precise and the automatic four-wheel-drive system effective. The 2.2-litre diesel is the same as that found in the flagship Mazda 6, and it has plenty of overtaking power.
The Mazda CX-7 has a four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, and it comes with front, side and curtain airbags as standard. Standard safety features include ABS with brake force distribution, stability and traction control, while rear parking sensors help with reversing. The 2.2-litre diesel is tried and tested in a number of other Mazdas, while the dealer network has a decent reputation for customer service.
That sporty shape means the Mazda CX-7 isn't the most spacious 4x4 around. Boot space is 455 litres, which expands to 744 litres with the seats folded. When you consider the smaller Mazda CX-5 has capacities of 503 litres and 1,603 litres, that's simply not good enough. However, a clever one-touch seat folding mechanism makes lowering the rear chairs easy. The driving position is comfortable and the view forward excellent, though, but a lack of steering reach adjustment means that drivers will find their legs brushing on the dash. Rear space is adequate at best.