Mazda CX-7 diesel manual review

I don't often lament the presence of a clutch pedal and I'm not about to now. But it seems such a shame that so few people will get to experience this particular diesel, just because they won't swap their own cogs.

Drivetrain

The Mazda CX-7 has been revamped and the highlight of the upgrade is the addition of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine to the specs sheet.

The diesel packs a 400Nm wallop in this and the Mazda6, but the CX-7 gets the AdBlue emissions system that cuts nitrogen oxide (NOX) - something to assuage the guilt perhaps, but that and the single-digit fuel consumption that can regularly appear on the trip computer might help as well.

The diesel claims a fuel economy figure of 7.6 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 202g/km, with the AdBlue system cutting NOX emissions using a urea-based natural chemical reaction within the exhaust system.

Interior

It's a comfortable cabin that has all its features falling easily to hand, Mazda says they've used improved-quality plastics, more sound deadening and given it more to combat vibration and it feels like its all been done to good effect.

The dashboard and instrumentation has thankfully followed the path of the Mazda3, with the dashboard-mounted multi-information display to control sat-nav (when fitted), the Bluetooth phone link, the sound system, the reversing camera and the trip computer.

Fit-out and equipment

The standard features list includes stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, the multi-information display, a reversing camera and a trip computer.

There also is climate control, a 6-disc in-dash MP3-compatible CD sound system, an auxiliary jack for an MP3 player, cruise control, a leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, reach'n'rake adjustable steering and variable intermittent wipers and 17in alloys.

The added features on the diesel include sat-nav, powered and heated front seats, heated front exterior mirrors, leather trim and the up-spec Bose nine-speaker sound system.

Driving

Anyone looking to hit anything other than A-grade dirt roads should be looking elsewhere - with 170mm of clearance this is not an offroader, it's an SUV that is definitely a sealed-surface machine, a good one at that.  Its ride is not uncomfortable in day-to-day traffic, but this is where the lack of an auto hits home.

Given the close proximity in fuel pricing at the moment, the solid shove of the diesel powerplant is attractive given the turbo petrol's thirst, although the servicing will make up for some of that - let's hope Mazda has a good automatic on the way to complete the package.

The six-speed manual is a nice-enough transmission to use, although the clutch is a little snappy, making it less at home in the traffic and better when slinging it around on a country road.

That's where this machine is more at home, whisking its passengers quietly along a country road, gently sipping on the tank as its makes good use of its torque.  Pointing into corners has little of the body roll and vagueness normally associated with the SUV segment.

It still has its limits, it is a tall-bodied machine after all, but the enthusiasm for corners is well beyond the norm for a segment that still has plenty of trucks in it.

MAZDA CX-7 Diesel Sports

Price: from $43,640.
Engines: 2.2-litre in-line 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel.
Power: 127kW @ 3500rpm.
Torque: 400Nm @ 2000rpm.
Transmission: six-speed manual, all-wheel drive.
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs, with anti-lock and stability control systems.
Suspension: MacPherson strut (front); multi-link (rear).
Fuel consumption/capacity: 7.6 litres/100km; tank 69 litresEmissions: 202-273g/km
Dimensions: Length 4693mm, width 1872mm, height 1645mm, track fr/rr 1627/1622mm, wheelbase 2750mm, boot 400 litres, weight 1928kg.
Wheels: 18in alloys.

Rivals

Holden Captiva 2.0 SX AWD, from $39,490.
Kia Sorento 2.2, from $39,990.
Subaru Outback 2.0D, from $40,490.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 TD, from $37,990.

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