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Car reviews - Mazda - CX-7 - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

13 Oct 2009

MAZDA Australia has slashed the cost of stepping into its highly acclaimed CX-7 SUV by introducing a new front-drive entry-level model as part of a series facelift, priced from only $33,990 – almost $8000 cheaper than the previous starting point.

The new entry-level CX-7 Classic is powered by a normally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that is less powerful but more economical than the existing 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

The facelifted range – launched in Australia this week but previewed in February at the Canadian auto show – also, as previously announced, includes a diesel-engined offering for the first time, but with only a manual gearbox.

The price of the CX-7 Classic Sports (previously the Classic) has been reduced by almost $3000 to $38,990 while gaining extra equipment worth about $390. The similarly powered Luxury Sports drops almost $2000 to $45,990 while gaining $1040 in additional equipment.

Although the CX-7 has sold well since being launched here in November 2006 (selling more than 14,000 units in less than three years), some buyers have been surprised by high levels of fuel consumption.

Introducing not only the diesel engine but also the new smaller-engined and lighter petrol Classic provides CX-7 buyers with a welcome break in terms of running costs.

While the 2.3 turbo petrol models continue to offer an official combined fuel consumption figure of 11.5L/100km, Mazda claims that engine and transmission refinements result in “real world” improvements of 7.7 per cent.

The new base model – being some 172kg lighter thanks largely to the lack of the all-wheel drive system – is officially 18.3 per cent more efficient at 9.4L/100km, while the diesel is naturally the economy champion with an impressive figure of 7.6L/100km.

The new CX-7 Diesel Sports model slips into the new four-model range at $43,640 – between the two continuing turbo-petrol models in terms of both price and equipment – but is expected to account for only about 10 per cent of sales (one-fifth that of the more expensive petrol flagship).

It comes with Classic Sports equipment, with the addition of heated mirrors, Bluetooth compatibility, satellite-navigation, premium audio and leather seats with heating and eight-way power adjustment for the driver.

It also comes with a system that greatly reduces dangerous NOx emissions, but which requires servicing by a Mazda dealer every 20,000km – otherwise the engine cannot be started.

Mazda claims the CX-7 Diesel Sports is the first Australian passenger vehicle to feature a so-called Selective Catalytic Reduction system, which injects an additive called AdBlue urea to convert NOx in the exhaust into harmless nitrogen and water.

The system is similar to that employed by Mercedes-Benz in Europe under its BlueTec moniker and the urea is stored in a small tank that needs to be refilled every 20,000km by a Mazda dealer as part of the regular service schedule.

A urea tank level indicator located in the trip meter keeps the driver informed of its vital status and a series of warning lights illuminate as the level drops below 2400km and on to empty. If the tank is allowed to reach the empty level, the engine will continue to run but will not restart.

Despite dropping prices significantly and adding two new variants, Mazda Australia anticipates it will continue selling about 5000 CX-7s a year, with the new models accounting for a combined 40 per cent of sales.

The company expects the Luxury Sports to be the best-selling variant, accounting for 50 per cent of sales, with the balance being 30 per cent for the new Classic base model, 10 per cent for the Classic Sports and 10 per cent for the Diesel Sports.

Mazda Australia said that CX-7 buyers are mainly young couples about to settle down, families with young children and empty-nesters. They are well-educated professionals aged 30 to 50 with a household income over $80,000, are well-informed, have a good understanding of technology and are looking for something more expressive, innovative, exhilarating and stylish than conventional SUVs.

Styling changes for the 2010 model year include a larger grille (to provide more cooling for the diesel engine) and foglamp bezels, producing a slightly more upright look, restyled alloy wheels, a revised rear bumper and larger rear spoiler.

Engineering revisions have resulted in a claimed improvement of up to 10 per cent for interior noise and vibration levels while the occupants face a restyled dashboard that incorporates a new 4.1-inch multi-function information screen for the sat-nav, reversing camera and various other displays.

Interior refinements also include more extensive use of soft-touch materials, chrome-outlined vents, new steering wheel design and revised instrumentation designed to be easier to read.

The new entry-level CX-7 Classic is powered by the same 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine used in the Mazda3 SP25 and the Mazda6, driving only through the front wheels rather than all four, as with all other CX-7s.

Power output is 120kW at 6000rpm with torque peaking at 205Nm at 2000rpm, significantly down on the 122kW/227Nm for the same engine in the SP25 and 125kW/226Nm in the Mazda6.

Standard transmission for the Classic is a five-speed auto, whereas other CX-7s have six gears, and it is visually distinguished by smaller diameter (17-inch) wheels and the lack of foglights.

However, equipment levels are otherwise the same as the next model up – the 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol Classic Sports – and include six airbags, stability control, reversing camera, metallic or mica paint, climate-control air-conditioning and cruise control.

With the addition of the two new engine variants, the CX-7 range grows to four models, with the other two still powered by the existing direct-injection 2.3-litre turbo, which has been mildly revised but still produces 175kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

The new MZR-CD 2.2-litre common-rail turbo-diesel arrives with slightly less power than as installed in the Mazda6 (127kW at 3500rpm versus 136kW at 3500rpm), but the same peak torque figure of 400Nm (at 2000rpm, whereas the Mazda6 figure is quoted at 1800-3000rpm).

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