From Towcar Awards 2008

List price: £24,595 (when tested)
Kerbweight: 1770kg
85% Match: cannot tow 85%
Max towing weight: 1450kg
Towball limit: 75kg

AS FAR AS some drivers are concerned, you may as well set fire to cash as tow with a petrol 4×4, yet touring with a Mazda CX-7 isn’t as mad as it looks. The official combined fuel consumption of 27.7mpg is identical to a diesel Land Rover Discovery’s.

Mazda markets the CX-7 as the 4×4 that thinks it’s a sports car, and with a 30-60mph time of 10.6 seconds you can see why. In practice, however, the engine needed to be worked hard to get the best out of it, and it felt a little laboured if revs dropped below 2500rpm.

Good solo handling

Without a caravan the CX-7 handles remarkably well, but when towing it was slightly disappointing. It tackled the lane-change well enough, but wasn’t as secure at high speeds as expected.

By 4×4 standards, the hill-start wasn’t brilliant, either, needing lots of revs and clutch slip to tackle the 1-in-6 slope. Worst of all, the CX-7 can’t legally tow an 85% match.

The boot was big enough for all of our test load bar one bag, but the absence of a spare wheel suitable for towing put a big dent in the CX-7’s practicality score.

We say

Towing: 3/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 3/5
Buying & owning: 3/5

Verdict: 3/5. Quick and fun to drive, but there are more sensible 4x4s.

Braking 30-0mph: 10.88m