Mazda’s CX-7 compact SUV has been around for some time now – pre-dating other more mainstream models like the Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan by a couple of years.
The CX-7’s dynamic looks and sportier stance mark it out as something rather more interesting than other models in the sector, and can fairly lay claim to Mazda’s ‘zoom-zoom’ spirit.
A steeply-raked windscreen, large alloy wheels and styling features from Mazda’s MX-5 and RX-8 sports cars emphasise the sports in sport utility vehicle, while the front end – all grilles and vents – looks aggressive without being over-the-top or vulgar.
There’s a very high waistline, and the shallow glazed areas, picked out in different colour trim, serve to highlight a coupe-like profile. It’s an attractive car that hides its bulk well, looking rather more like a tall estate that a squat SUV.
Dropping the 2.3-litre petrol engine which, though fun, made little sense to the eco- and cash-conscious alike – and taking the range forward with only a chunky 2.2-litre diesel engine – has simplified the range.
The 170bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel is a very strong unit, with a lot of twist in the mid-range, and enough torque higher up to make cruising comfortable and easy in the high sixth gear, which should be good for motorway economy.
It’s mated to a similarly solid six-speed manual transmission, and together presents a powerful drivetrain. Active all-wheel drive can split torque between the front and back if you want to take the CX-7 off-road, but really it’s optimised for the road.
And the CX-7 comes to life when driven as a sporty 4×4. A fairly stiff suspension and stiffer bodyshell than the previous model make for an enjoyable driving experience, and the Active Torque 4WD increases handling further.
The Mazda SUV will turn in with the vim of a much smaller model, and gives good feedback to the driver. Realistically, it seems most likely that anyone buying the CX-7 will be spending a lot of time on the motorway – and fuel economy of 37.7mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 199g/km make sense in that respect too.
Sitting inside the Mazda crossover, with its never-ending list of gadgetry and convenience features, it becomes more obvious that this is a car you can spend a lot of time in.
There’s all the multimedia gadgetry and comfort kit you could want, including a blind-spot system, built-in satnav, a Bose stereo system and adjustable, heated front leather seats – plus all the usual standards present and correct.
There’s room for five adults, 455 litres of boot space and towing weight of 1,450kg – so you can take plenty of stuff, or people, with you in comfort too.
All of this for a shade under £26K in Sport Tech trim, which is the only available specification. While that makes the CX-7 more expensive than other models in the range, it’s hard to think of what you’d want to add to this model, which comes with a large engine and oodles of kit as standard.
The Mazda CX-7 ticks all the usual boxes you’d expect from a compact SUV, but adds some knock-out styling to the equation too. It’s rare that you can find a model that offers such a strong package, and wraps it up in such good looks.