Just when you thought our local car market couldn’t possibly stomach another SUV or Soft-Roader, the Mazda CX-7 comes along. And although I’m no great fan of vehicles in this class, I must admit that I rather liked it. With its design inspired by the legendary MX-5 convertible, a car held dear by hairdressers around the world, and the rotary powered RX-8 sports car, Mazda’s CX-7 is a good-looking alternative to the Land Rover Freelander, Nissan Qashqai or Mitsubishi’s Outlander.
Although its large wheels and relatively low ground clearance rule it out of the running as a serious off-roader, it sure makes up for it in the way it handles tarmac. With limited body-roll it behaves very much like a sporty hatchback, the taut suspension setup letting you attack corners like a boy-racer from Alberton. And while the CX-7’s intelligent four-wheel drive system tries its best to combat the effects of both under- and oversteer, there’s also the added benefit of Traction and Dynamic Stability Control.
Under the bonnet you’ll find the glorious turbocharged engine stolen from the Mazda3 MPS. And although it sounds like a coarse Singer sewing machine, it pumps out insane levels of power and torque. It’s also mated to a 6-speed Activematic transmission that claims to offer “the best of both worlds” with a choice of automatic and manual modes. Now a tacky-looking lever might control it, but it actually turned out to be one of the finest gearboxes of its kind that I’ve tested. There’s hardly any delay on the up shift, while downshifts are smooth with surprisingly little jerk. Mazda should be proud of their efforts.
What they shouldn’t be proud of, however, is the rather nasty interior. It’s a mass of hard, scratchy plastic and I counted no less than five different coloured shades of the stuff. The faux aluminium insert on the passenger door of our test unit was already badly scratched and certainly didn’t bode well for a life of continuous wear and tear. Its dashboard was disappointing too, with an illogical sprawl of buttons and switches complicating even the simplest of tasks. But if you’re prepared to live with this, and part with a lofty R399 130, you’ll be treated to an excellent on-road ride and brisk performance. And if it weren’t for the existence of the new Subaru Forester, which is cheaper and better-built, I’d definitely consider buying one.
Mazda CX-7 Fast Facts:
Price: R399 130
Engine: 2261cc in-line four petrol
Power: 175 kW at 5 000rpm
Torque: 350 Nm at 2 500rpm
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 8 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 210km/h
Fuel consumption: 12.3l/100km (combined)
The cool part of cx-7 is the design like mx-5 convertible. cx-7 has similarities with cx-5 but there’s a rumor that crossover cx-7 discontinued in production, but I’ve got more positive opinions on this model.
I have cx-5 but I guess this more cool than cx-7