What is it?
Mazda already has an SUV in each segment of the market and the Mazda CX-8 fills a niche in its line up. Created mainly for the Japanese domestic market where the CX-8 is positioned as Mazda’s flagship SUV, as the CX-9 isn’t offered in Japanese showrooms, Mazda Australia managed to convince its head office to send the model down under.
The CX-8 combines the DNA of the CX-5 and CX-9 to create a model that straddles in between the two. From the front, you might mistake it for a CX-5 as the two are identical from the B-pillar forward.
But viewed from the sides, you will notice its elongated rear doors to enable easy access to the third-row of seats. Yes, the CX-8 is a 7-seater like the CX-9. In fact, it shares the full-size CX-9’s wheelbase while maintaining the CX-5’s width and is targeted at families wanting a 7-seat hauler in a smaller, easier-to-handle body. It is 175mm shorter than the CX-9 and 350mm longer than the CX-5.
To justify its position even further, the CX-8 is offered exclusively with a 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel engine to prevent cannibalising sales of the now petrol-only CX-9.
How much does it cost?
To make things simpler for the consumers, the CX-8 is available in just two variants – Sport and Asaki. Our entry-level front-wheel drive Sport test car is priced from $42,490. For that, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a Head-up Display, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, heated and auto folding side mirrors, a 7.0-inch MZD Connect touchscreen with built-in sat-nav, DAB+ and dual-zone climate control.
There’s also Active Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking that works at freeway speeds, Mazda’s comprehensive list of i-ACTIVESENSE safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, High Beam Control, Lane-keep Assist System, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Disappointingly, there is still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto although Mazda has promised it’s coming soon.
All-wheel drive adds $4,000 to the CX-8 Sport’s bottom line, while it’s standard on the $61,490 Asaki, all before on-road costs.
The leap in price adds even more safety equipment, including Mazda’s new 360o View Monitor, front parking sensors, Adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the Asaki gains Pure White nappa leather, real wood trim to the instrument and door panels, 10-speaker Bose Sound System and a heated steering wheel – a first for Mazda.
Is it a Frankenstein?
While the CX-8 proportions isn’t the best from Mazda, which has made a name of itself for premium designs in recent times, the overall design is far from unattractive.
It loses points from its rear three-quarter view with those massive rear doors and taillights borrowed from the wider CX-9 that makes it look a little awkward. The 17-inch wheels on the CX-8 Sport is also on the small side for such a big slab of metal and doesn’t help with the overall styling either.
Look past those design flaws and the CX-8 continues Mazda’s premium KODO design language with a sculpted front signature wing, bold grille with horizontal slats and slick LED headlights.
Inside, the elegant interior featuring black headlining is largely shared with the CX-5 with smart switchgear and a lovely seating position. The standard head-up display not only gives the car a premium feel, but also serves up useful information in the driver’s line of sight, not to mention a useful digital speedo
How practical is it?
With rear doors that open almost 90 degrees to the car, ingress and egress is a breeze especially for those with small children. The extra long doors also means getting into the 3rd row of seats is easier than it looks, helped by the 2nd row of seats which slide forward via a quick flick of the lever. The 3rd row is useful enough to accommodate anyone up to about 170cm tall, too.
The rear seats also benefit from their own fully-automatic air-conditioning to keep everyone happy.
Cabin storage is ample for all three rows. Front-row occupants gets a large console box with built-in USB ports, while the 2nd row features a centre armrest with built-in cup holders and a further two USB ports. A storage compartment in the 3rd row can hold a 500ml bottle, as well as a smartphone and other small items.
With all three rows in use, the CX-8 gives a still generous 209 litres of luggage space – enough to accommodate two golf bags. There’s also a 100mm deep sub-boot under the main boot floor, offering an extra 33 litres of storage space for valuable or fragile items.
In five-seat configuration, the luggage capacity expands to 742 litres which is significantly more voluminous than the CX-5’s 442 litres.
Is it comfortable?
Our base Sport model is finished in good quality cloth trim that looks nice and easy to clean. The seats are supportive and comfortable, although a bit more side bolstering for better lateral support wouldn’t hurt.
It’s roomy in the 2nd row of seats and slide rearwards for more legroom if the 3rd row isn’t in use.
How does it drive?
The 2.2-litre twin-turbo in-line four-cylinder engine is shared with the CX-5 and features updated new piston shape and ultra-high-response multi-hole piezo injectors to increase combustion efficiency. The result is 140kW of power and a muscular 450Nm of torque.
It’s a beautifully refined unit with good engine response and matches well with the 6-speed automatic transmission.
It pulls strongly from low down in the rev range but thanks to its extra wheelbase and the associated 200kg of weight penalty, the CX-8 doesn’t feel quite as urgent as the CX-5.
Around the corners, the CX-8 does an admirable job of staying planted but it isn’t as precise as the smaller CX-5. Rolling on 17-inch wheels means ride compliance is good around town, while cabin refinement is good.
How economical is it?
Mazda claims the front-wheel drive Sport consumes just 6.6L/100km if you spend most of your time in urban traffic but our real-world economy indicates it’s closer to 7.7L/100km. On the freeway however, this drops to around 6.0L/100km.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Genuine 7-seat versatility
- Easy access to the 3rd row of seats
- Excellent built quality
- Muscular turbo-diesel engine
- Handling not as sharp as the CX-5
- 17-inch wheels look undersized
While some might question whether we need another SUV from Mazda, the CX-8’s extra carrying capacity and diesel offering does give it a point of difference to smaller CX-5 and larger CX-9.
It also sits in a niche, further adding to the CX-8’s unique selling point.
And now with the added benefit of 5 years, unlimited kilometre warranty, the CX-8 certainly makes a strong proposition for families wanting a well-built, ‘compact’ 7-seat SUV.
2018 Mazda CX-8 Sport pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $42,490|
As tested: $42,490
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited kilometers|
|Warranty Customer Service:||N/A|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||2.2-litre twin-turbo in-line 4-cylinder diesel with engine stop/start:|
140kW @ 4,500rpm, 450Nm @ 2,000rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||78.4|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||Claimed: 9.2|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 5.7 / Tested: 7.6|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||72|
|Body:||5-door, 7 seats SUV|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,900/1,840/1,720/2,930|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:||11.6|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,840|
|Boot Space (min/max) (L):||209/1.727|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 2,000/Unbraked: 750|