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Mazda CX-7 heart transplant looms

Australia-bound: Mazda's CX-7 has been given a nip and tuck.

Diesel on the cards in Mazda CX-7 mid-life makeover

17 Feb 2009

MAZDA will release a facelifted CX-7 in Australia about September after an unexpectedly early mid-life makeover for the compact SUV was announced at the Canadian auto show in Toronto late last week.

The revised line-up will feature up to two new powerplant additions to supplement the existing and unaltered 2.3-litre DISI direct-injection turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol unit (delivering 175kW of power at 5000rpm and 350Nm of torque at 2500rpm) that has been the backbone of the CX-7 since its global rollout in 2006.

Whether Australian buyers will be able to choose both new powerplants remains to be seen, as Mazda Australia says it is still working through the economics of offering three engine choices in the CX-7 for Australia.

Top of Mazda’s wish list for Australia is the as-yet unannounced turbo-diesel version being devised specifically for European consumption. The all-new 2.2-litre MZR-CD four-cylinder unit is used in the recently released Mazda6 and upcoming Mazda3 diesel models.

In the latest ‘6’, this engine pumps out 136kW of power at 3500rpm and 400Nm of torque at 1800rpm.

22 center image However, as with the latter two passenger cars, the proposed CX-7 diesel will probably only be available with a six-speed manual gearbox for the time being as Mazda is still developing a suitable automatic (or automated dual-clutch manual) transmission.

Meanwhile, the other engine on offer will be the 2.5-litre twin-cam naturally aspirated four-cylinder MZR petrol unit also found in the Mazda6 and soon-to-be-released Mazda3 SP25 models.

In North American guise, it develops 120kW of power at 6000rpm and 218Nm of torque at 3500rpm – compared to 125kW and 226Nm at 4000rpm in the Australian Mazda6.

Canadian versions of the CX-7 2.5 petrol engine will be paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive (FWD) running gear, suggesting that it will serve as the entry level model over there.

This contrasts with the six-speed automatic transmission that is standard on both the CX7 and CX-9 models sold in Australia.

Whether Australian cars will follow suit with FWD remains to be seen, but a decision is due shortly, according to Mazda Australia public relations manager Glenn Butler.

“We would like to have a broader CX-7 range,” he told GoAuto this week.

“But the question is: can we bring in whatever else is available elsewhere at the right price (for Australia).”

Mr Butler admitted he was caught by surprise by the unexpected announcement in Toronto last week, and added that much work was still be done before all the CX-7 facelift details were to decided for the Australian market.

“We’re still working on the exact dates for when we can get the car here,” he said.

If a FWD CX-7 is released in Australia, it might be teamed with the diesel engine to create a ‘green’ version offering maximum fuel efficiency and low carbon dioxide emissions.

Although the facelift is designed to keep the CX-7 fresh as it enters its fourth year of production, Mazda has kept the nip and tuck to a minimum, with only minor changes to the SUV’s sleek appearance.

The nose sports a new bumper featuring a variation of the large corporate five-point air-intake that has already invaded the RX-8, MX-5 and upcoming Mazda3, while there are small revisions to the rear end.

But while there are also alterations to the interior in the form of a revised dash top and fresh instrumentation facings, CX-7 owners are more likely to notice and appreciate the claimed reduction in noise, vibration and harshness properties resulting from beefing up body rigidity and reduced wind noise intrusion.

Other changes include new trim materials, a large info display screen, the availability of Bluetooth compatibility media, a blind-spot monitoring system as per Volvo’s BLIS device, and more convenience items such as a powered front passenger seat.

Mazda will reveal more details of the CX-7 facelift later this year.

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