25 October 2018
David Linklater | Waikato Times
Mazda's CX-8 is really quite long but really quite narrow. Why is that again? David Linklater explains.
From nowhere in SUV-land (well, it was back before 2012), Mazda is now purveyor of all things tall and crossover-like. The latest is the CX-8, a seven-seater driven here in flagship Limited AWD form.
There's already a Mazda sevenseater called CX-9. So the difference is one . . . what?
Basically, one whole country. The CX-9 is really a product of Mazda North American Operations (MNAO): it was developed there for American tastes, which means it's really large and especially quite wide (1969mm), because width is not an issue in the US. Have you seen the size of American parking spaces?
Anyway, Mazda is on a real SUV track at the moment and it felt it needed a family-sized seven-seater for the domestic (and other) markets, so it cooked up the CX-8. It's a broadly similar thing to the CX-9 and on exactly the same wheelbase, but it has unique styling and, crucially, it's a whopping 129mm narrower.
Because width really is an issue in Japan. Have you seen the size, etc?
So you can think of the CX-8 as a seven-seater that has similar cabin length to a CX-9 but the same exterior width (exactly the same in fact) as the smaller CX-5.
So yes, there's less elbow room in an Eight than there is in a Nine and less luggage space (up to 35 litres depending on seating configuration), but it can still carry the same number of passengers and it's a lot more compact.
If none of that is making sense or seems relevant, it could also just be a case of petrol versus diesel: because the CX-9 is only available with the former and the CX-8 only comes with the latter.
Will this be of any interest at all if I don't have five children?
You could argue the CX-8 hits a bit of a sweet spot in offering impressive cargo capacity (bikes or whatever) without being oversized. But really, you'd have to want the extra space for one thing or another because this really is still a large, slightly peoplemovery SUV. A CX-5 is way cooler and even the supersized CX-9 looks a lot more sporty.
That's not to say the CX-8 is dull to drive. Mazda's 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a delight and in some driving conditions even more refined than the brand's petrol powerplants.
It steers and handles really well in this Limited AWD form too, as well as offering deeply impressive cabin design, quality and equipment. As it should for $63k; yes, it's still cheaper than a CX-9 Limited, despite having an expensive diesel engine.
Any other cars to consider?
There's a Mazda model called the CX-9. Not sure if we mentioned that.
But in terms of seven-seat turbodiesel SUV rivals with similar size and quality, you'll be looking at the just-launched Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Peugeot 5008 GT, Skoda Kodiaq or at a squeeze (quite literally if you're in the third row) the Mitsubishi Outlander.
There's also plenty of choice among the "utes with boots" brigade like the Holden Trailblazer or Toyota Fortuner, but they're off-roadoriented and not nearly as refined on the sealed stuff. Or as luxurious inside.
At a glance Mazda CX-8 Limited Base price: $62,495.
Powertrain and performance: 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four, 140kW/ 450Nm, 6-speed automatic, AWD, Combined economy 6.0 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4900mm long, 1725mm high, 2930mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 209-775 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres.
We like: A big SUV that fits narrow parking spaces, superb diesel engine, quality.
We don't like: Weirdly proportioned compared with other Mazda SUVs.