Mazda gets sporty

<p>The new Mazda CX-7 is a little like a hybrid of an SUV and the sporty RX-8. This model really puts the “S” back into SUV.</p>


CX-7 puts the ‘S’ back into the SUV




The new Mazda CX-7 is a little like a hybrid of an SUV and the sporty RX-8. This model really puts the “S” back into SUV.

Right from the start, I fell in love with the CX-7. Everything about its behaviour exemplifies agility: Impressive braking, precise steering, firm suspension ...

Above all, its acceleration is dynamic. No surprise there since it retains the 2.3L turbo (244HP) 4-cylinder from the MazdaSpeed6. As with the sport sedan, the CX-7’s direct injection enables the turbo system to keep its kick even in low gear (258 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm).

Even the interior looks sporty with the console surrounding the driver. The mouse-grey-on-black, dual-tone material gives it a sophisticated look, even on the basic model.

The only downside: No manual transmission. The sequential 6-speed automatic does a good job, but it doesn’t offer paddle shifters on the steering wheel like some of the other Mazdas. That feature wouldn’t have been trivial on such a sporty SUV.

I personally wouldn’t spend an extra $2,000 for all-wheel drive; the two-wheel drive version handles the muddy dirt roads really well, thanks to the traction control (the ABS and the stability system are also standard features). Another reason to stick with two-wheel is that the optional AWD only triggers when a wheel slips; I prefer by far permanent systems or those that enable manual 50-50 lock of the torque. It’s better to ensure that we can prevent an incident rather than letting the car react to it.

The CX-7’s biggest asset is still its look. With its cleverly inclined windshield, slightly slanted roof and those wheel fenders that remind us of the RX-8, its contours are fluid and daring.

As for pricing, Mazda is reasonable: $31,995 for the GS and $35,195 for the GT — that adds leather, heated front seats, “moonroof,” automatic climate controls, and we love, love, love the xenon headlights.

With its navigation system, rear-view camera and its keyless starter (reserved for the GT version), the CX-7 brings a nice sophistication to Mazda’s product line.

But what about the competition? It’s hard to assess for the moment. With dimensions between compact and mid-size SUV, the CX-7 actually seems to be attracting owners of ... Nissan Murano. Those who have an eye on the Acura RDX should also visit the Mazda showrooms.

They would save up to $10,000.


Mazda CX-7 2007

  • Engine: 2.3L direct injection 4-cylinder turbo

  • Performance: 244 HP, 258 lb.-ft. of torque

  • Transmission: sequential 6-speed automatic

  • Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, traction control, stability system

  • Wheels: 18 inches (P235/60R18)

  • Drivetrain: two-wheel or AWD (on demand)

  • Cargo: 848L (1658L backseat folded)

  • Towing capacity: 907kg

  • Fuel consumption (combined, L/100km) : 10.85L (2WD), 11.05L (4WD)

  • Fuel tank: 69 litres (Super)

  • Built in: Japan

  • Price: $31,995 (GS), $35,195 (GT)

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