From July 2010 issue

List price when tested: £26,550
Kerbweight: 1875kg
85% match: 1594kg
Max towing weight: 1800kg
Towball limit: 85kg
30-60mph: 11.7seconds
30-0mph: 10.3m

MOST SPORTY 4x4s have German badges and high price tags. The Mazda CX-7 makes a refreshing change.

Not only is the Mazda much cheaper than a comparable Audi Q5 or BMW X3, in some respects it’s a better car. It has a very healthy kerbweight, for one thing, which means almost any single-axle tourer will make a sensible match. It also comes with a long list of equipment included in the price, whereas it’s easy to quickly add thousands to the price of an Audi or BMW if you raid the options list.

Strong diesel engine

When it first went on sale the Mazda could only be bought with a petrol engine, and the sky-high running costs did the car no favours. Now you can only buy the CX-7 as a diesel. It’s a very strong engine with 171bhp and 295lb.ft of torque. Driven solo the Mazda really shifts, and it still moves with urgency with a caravan behind it.

We hitched up to a Swift Expression 540 with a Mass in Running Order of 1283kg. The CX-7 accelerated from 30-60mph in just 11.7 seconds. On the road the big Mazda never felt short of overtaking muscle, and comfortably held 60mph in top gear up motorway inclines.

Easy hill start

Our emergency lane-change test doesn’t always suit 4x4s, with their high centre of gravity. However, the Mazda could be hustled along at pace, gripping hard and keeping the caravan firmly in check. A hill start on a 1-in-10 slope was easy for the CX-7, and it coped just as well in reverse.

The cabin has more than enough space for four, and can seat five in reasonable comfort. A little more luggage space wouldn’t hurt, though.
Fuel economy (37.7mpg on the combined cycle) and resale values could be better.

We say
Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5 – A sporty 4×4 which tows well and is keenly priced.

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