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Mazda CX-8 2019 review: Asaki

Mazda added the CX-8 to its SUV line-up this year. It sits in between a five-seater CX-5 and the large seven-seater CX-9, in that it has seven seats but it’s not as big as a CX-9. It’s smaller, so a bit easier to manoeuvre.

It’s in the same category as the Tiguan Allspace and Hyundai Santa Fe because you would mainly use it as a five seater, with the two extra seats in the back only called into action when you need them.

I got to test the CX-8 Asaki which is the top of the range, on a week that we were driving two hours out of Sydney to stay with another family on a mini-break, so really got to see the full range (or limitations) of the car. Here’s how it did driving my family around in the country and the city, over the seven days of testing.

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How does it drive?

There are really no complaints here because the CX-8 is smooth sailing. There’s no lurching or jerky start/stop functionality, it all works very nicely and you can do it with little effort. The handling is good and steering is spot on - not too heavy or too light.

It’s got a 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel engine (it’s only available in diesel), which is enough for it to get up hills quickly, without hesitation, and you feel confident driving it because it does what you ask it to.

The 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel is the only engine choice in the CX-8. The 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel is the only engine choice in the CX-8.

It handled the open road out to the bush really well, dealing with hideous Friday afternoon traffic as well as the long highways without a hint of protest. Because it’s quite sizeable I also felt safe driving that far with the kids in the back.

Parking is relatively easy, I fit into a fair few parking spaces that surprised even me. On this top of the range model there’s also a front, rear and 360-degree camera to help you refine your parking approach.

The turning circle is the same as a large seven-seater, at 11.6m you’ll become an expert at the three-point-turn, but the steering wheel turns easily and the gears change quickly so it's no headache to do.

What does it look like?

For a seven seat SUV it’s not too boxy or chunky, which is nice. Mazda has kept a sleeker-than-average shape and the understated grille on the front lends a high-end feel to the exterior. You feel pretty good driving this car because it matches up to other cars around it.

Inside is also pretty swish, but do note I was in the top of the range Asaki which has an extra $15,000 worth of glorious interior additions like nappa leather seats (they look and feel amazing), and the front and outer middle row seats are heated. The centre dash area is beautifully designed with a mix of faux leather and high-gloss black creating a very stylish interior feel.

  • You feel pretty good driving this car because it matches up to other cars around it. You feel pretty good driving this car because it matches up to other cars around it.
  • Despite the size, parking is relatively easy. Despite the size, parking is relatively easy.

You’ll get a head-up display which shows your speed in the windscreen along with the speed limit. There’s a leather steering wheel, power-operated front seats, a Bose stereo, real wood trim on the dash, a power tailgate and more - but no sunroof, which is odd for this price. It really does feel premium inside the cabin however, I didn’t miss it.

How spacious is it?

My family of four fit in very comfortably, we had loads of space to pack the boot with two small suitcases, bags of food and wine and beer and, um, gin. For sundowners, naturally. The boot is large if you’re not using the back two seats - a good 742 litres VDA (to the roof), and that will fit pretty much anything a growing family can chuck at it.

With the back two seats in use, that space drops to 209 litres VDA (to the roof), but you’ll still be able to fit groceries and school bags in there. With all seats down it opens up to 1727L VDA, and you can have a secret lie down if you want to escape all the children on your long weekend (who, me?).

  • There really is a fair amount of room up front. There really is a fair amount of room up front.
  • My children aged five and seven had loads of room in the second row, as did the adults. My children aged five and seven had loads of room in the second row, as did the adults.
  • Rear seat passengers get a fold-down centre armrest. Rear seat passengers get a fold-down centre armrest.

The third row was very spacious - it fit me at 161cm and even my friend at 175cm who had to sit back there with her son (meltdown, don’t ask). The car functioned as it was meant to - as a five seater SUV with those two seats in the back only used when you need them, which we did having two families at the one house for the weekend! I found the space in the third row better in the CX-8 than most other cars in this category.

My children aged five and seven had loads of room in the second row, and so did all the adults. There really is a fair amount of room in there. You’ll also be able to fit a third child seat in this row - it will be tight but it will fit.

And the front had enough leg and head space for me and my 185cm husband, we didn’t feel cramped at all over the whole week.

How easy is it to use every day?

It’s a big car but it’s not too big. For those that find the CX-9 just a tad too large, this CX-8 will alleviate your size concerns for parking and driving. My kids are also able to climb in on their own (they’re getting big now!) and it’s a good height off the ground to fasten children’s car seat belts up which really is one of the biggest reasons parents love SUVs.

Despite its size, it's not too hard to handle. Despite its size, it's not too hard to handle.

There are six cupholders in total, two in each row. Plus a bottle holder in each door, a decent sized centre storage bin and four USB outlets for devices, two in the front and two in the middle row. The second row also gets its own climate control air con, but there are no air vents in the third row and also no sunroof, which you will get in a top spec Nissan Pathfinder for example, so kids back there may feel a bit cramped on long journeys.

The CX-8 Asaki has a power tailgate which I always find super helpful when overloaded with shopping bags.

What’s the tech like?

How safe is it?

The CX-8 hasn’t been ANCAP tested yet, but it ticks all the safety boxes with airbags for driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row.

The 360-degree view camera means it’s very hard to scrape the car.

You’ll also get all the latest safety tech as standard, including auto emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings and rear cross traffic alerts which totally save me coming out of my driveway every morning.

The reverse parking camera, front parking camera and 360-degree view camera mean it’s very hard to scrape the car while parking if you’re paying close attention.

How much does it cost to own?

The Mazda CX-8 Asaki comes in at $61,490 which is a good $15,000 more than the lower level Sport version. Fuel consumption is 6.0L/100km because it’s diesel, so you get more bang for your buck.

The warranty is Mazda’s standard three-year/unlimited km cover, which, in the future-forward year of 2018, and other companies offering five and seven years, now sounds fairly average. Services are required every 12 months/10,000km.

The Wrap

I found the Mazda CX-8 Asaki a pretty fab, all round family car. It has loads of space for everyone to fit comfortably, with extra boot space and then also has the two spare seats in the back for when you need them and the third row is quite roomy.

It drives beautifully both in town and on the open road and has all the safety you’d be looking for with a family. Plus it looks good and you feel great driving it.

I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10, taking points off for the disparity in pricing between the two trim levels. My children gave it an 8.5 out of 10 - they loved being able to fit their friends in the car over the weekend.


Smooth drive
Safety features
Interior space


Extra $$ for this trim level




The Kids:


$37,407 - $53,888

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