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Motoring: New Mazda CX7 at top of SUVclass

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 30th, 2006

There is no secret that I like Mazda cars. Pretty much everything they make is either good, or the best in its category in my view.

However, all the cars I have tested from Mazda before have been new models of cars they had producing, so they had a lot of experience behind them to do a good job with the replacement model.

So what happens when Mazda introduces a car into a segment it has never played in before, in this case, the cross-over vehicle.

Well their player in this hot segment is the new CX7, and from just looking at it, they got the thing just right.

This is one fantastic looking vehicle and looks a lot more expensive than it actually is.

So good job on the outside, and things only get better when you open the door.

The CX7 has just about the best-looking interior I have seen on any production car for any price. The materials are top rate, the fit and finish is flawless, and the design is alluring. I love everything about this interior, including the seats, which have a snake skin stripe running through its middle. This sort of stuff you expect on concept cars, I am glad Mazda has the guts to put such features on a production car.

On top of all this, the interior is very spacious, comfortable and quiet, making this a perfect long distance cruiser.

To help you cruise along is a 2.3-litre, turbo-charged four-cylinder engine (same one you get in the Mazdaspeed6) producing a healthy 244 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque.

This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, which thanks to its Sport-matic mode (which allows for manual gear selection) helps to make this a rapid vehicle. Trust me, this is not just fast for a car of this size, this is fast for even a sports car.

Thanks to its clever chassis dynamics and its intelligent all-wheel drive system, this is also very fast through the corners. Really, this tallish vehicle can shame most sedans through the corners. Think of it as a bargain priced Porsche Cayenne and you'll get the picture.

So, everything seems good so far, so what about its faults?

My first complaint doesn't have anything to do with the car Mazda manufactured, but what was installed on this test vehicle as part of their promotion, the XM satellite radio. The XM system didn't work too well and had a habit of losing its signal all too often. More work needed there then, but that's a complaint towards XM.

As for the CX7's faults, the only thing I can think of is its fuel economy. Yes, I know vehicles of this caliber are not going to be very economical, especially with such power, but the CX7 is really quite bad. I averaged 16.7-litres/100km, which is almost as bad as the V8 engine in the Land Rover LR3 I had last month.

So, the fuel bills would put me off, but if that is not a big concern for you, and you need a decently big vehicle (no, its not gargantuan, but its not tiny either) to haul your family in, the CX7 is a great choice. Especially when you look at the price. The base price for the CX7 is just $31,995, which is shockingly cheap compared to its competition from Nissan and Acura, and don't think you get nothing in terms of equipment for that price either.

Mazda has done its homework and as a result, they get an “A” from me for their work. Good job Mazda, again.
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