by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
The Mercury Cars Guide : May 1st 2010
14--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 1, 2010 Mazda covers all the bases email@example.com with KEITH DIDHAM Today's cars have become fashion statements on wheels, but is the blending of designs all too confusing, asks Keith Didham GREAT VALUE: The Mazda CX-7 Diesel Sport, the latest model in the range, comes better-packaged in equipment than many of its rivals. CALL me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when vehicle design had a clear set of design parameters. A sedan had four doors, a coupe had two, vans carried cargo not people, and sportscars were just that, er, sporty. Nowadays we have four-wheel drives (sorry, the marketing buzz- word is all-wheel drives) that think they are sportscars, we have sports cars that masquerade as all-wheel drives, hatchbacks have morphed into liftbacks, and there are coupes that magically, at the touch of a button, become a cabriolet, with their metal roof silently parking itself in the boot. Worse, like it or not, we have adopted that horrid American term ''SUV'' (for sports utility vehicle) for anything that looks like a wagon and has all-wheel drive. To make it more confusing, we have offroaders that are not --- they are ''softroaders''. Want some examples? Take a look at BMW's oversized X6. What is it? Ditto the Porsche Cayenne. Ditto the Kia Soul. Ditto the Audi Q7. What we are seeing is the motoring design rulebook being turfed out of the window. And it's all because of you. Buyers nowadays can't afford two cars so they are stuck with one, but they demand versatility, vehicles for work and play. They also demand vehicles that stand out from the neighbour's. And there's a great sense that motoring fashion is playing its hand greater than ever before. This brings me neatly around to Mazda's CX-7 with its abundant curves and sweeping lines. It's stylish and typically Mazda --- andIlikeitalot. But what is it? What pigeonhole does it neatly fit? None. Officially it's a compact softroader SUV, so it's fighting for sales space in a crowded market of wagons such as Nissan's Xtrail, Mitsubishi's Out- lander and Honda's CR-V. But you can name any number of other brands as well, including Kia's Sportage, Jeep Compass, Land Ro- ver's Freelander, Toyota's RAV4, Subaru's Forester and VW's Tiguan. They all fit into a broad $30,000 to $40,000 price bracket, all are roughly the same size, and all offer all-wheel drive traction in a wagon-ish body shape. And all are pretty fine vehicles. So Mazda's CX-7, first launched here in 2006 and facelifted in October, has a fight on its hands, but it has some good credentials. Mazda covers all the bases with four CX-7 models, three of them all- wheel drive, three of them petrol and one diesel. Prices range from $33,990 for those happy with two-wheel drive, to $45,990 for the petrol Luxury Sports, but in my mind, the diesel Sports, at $43,640, is the pick --- even though it doesn't offer all the fruit of the luxo model. The reason being is that the petrol versions are not the most frugal of the SUV pack, so the diesel, tested here, should attract those on a family budget. The diesel is the latest model in the range, and for the price comes better-packaged in equipment than many of its rivals. Tick the boxes for a five-star crash performance, reversing camera (needed for this bulky design), satel- lite navigation, comfortable front seats, a decent sound system, audio controls on the steering wheel, and plenty of storage bins. The 2.2-litre turbo diesel has plenty of torque, feels solid and for an oil- burner is reasonably quiet. Transfer of power to front and rear wheels is done through Mazda's nifty Active Torque Split system. So there's no problems with per- formance, nor handling. The downside? The big one is that the diesel version doesn't come with an automatic gearbox and that's a shame. I suspect Mazda has lost sales because of it. At least the manual box has six gears. The other negatives: it comes with one of those dreadful space-saver tyres, and the back seat, while it looks roomy, isn't class-leading when it comes to comfort. Niggles aside, the CX-7 impresses. While it looks bulky, it isn't difficult to manoeuvre in city traffic, but you do need that rear camera for parking with confidence. The boot, with slide-out load cover, offers a generous amount of luggage space, though the high-opening tailg- ate can be a stretch if you are vertically challenged. The design? Well, it works. It doesn't feel as bulky as a conventional boxy all-wheel drive. It allows for a big, airy cabin, and Mazda adds plenty of bling for the money.
April 24th 2010
May 8th 2010