New car report; SKY high CX-7 on a budget.
A few short months ago, in December 2009, we reviewed Mazda's face-lifted 2.3 litre turbo-charged CX-7 Limited, commenting that as capable as it was, it's thirsty appetite for fuel and lack of a 7 seat option may leave it off the shopping list for many family buyers.
Well, the good news is that Mazda has addressed the problem. Partly.
Launched recently in New Zealand is a non-turbo 2.5 litre 2WD Mazda CX-7 GSX, which in addition to offering improved fuel consumption, shaves the best part of ten grand off the price tag, but there's still no seven seater.
At $38,990, Mazda now has the opportunity to play in an entirely new arena, attracting new customers and adding incremental volume to a brand that has a strong and appealing product range throughout many market segments.
Many buyers opt for SUV/Crossover type vehicles for ease of access and commanding ride height while having no need for 4WD off road capability. We saw Nissan enter this space last year with the introduction of their highly successful Qashqai, and now Mazda has a vehicle at a price point that will enable them to compete.
Power-wise, at 120kW, the CX-7 GSX is not in the same league as the CX-7 Limited's 175kW output from the 2.3 litre turbo, but there's still plenty to like about the newcomer.
Maximum torque is available lower down the rev range, with 205Nm available from 2,000rpm, against the Limited's 350Nm at 3,500rpm. While this provides a fair amount of oomph off the line, the CX-7 GSX is left wanting at open road passing speeds. However, high end power is not likely to be a requirement for a majority of buyers in this sector.
Dumping the 4WD setup in favour of 2WD sheds over 200kg, bringing the weight of the CX-7 GSX close to Mazda6 Station Wagon. The six speed automatic transmission has also been replaced by a five speed unit.
The overall result is that Mazda now claims 9.4L/100km for the CX-7 GSX, a saving of close to 20% over the 2.3 litre Limited.
In New Zealand for the media launch of the CX-7 GSX and Mazda's updated Mazda6 were officials from Mazda in Japan. Director and Senior Managing Executive Officer, Masazumi Wakayama spoke of Mazda's SKY concept for improved fuel efficiency in the future.
Masazumi Wakayama said "The name SKY reflects the 'sky is the limit' approach of our engineers. They are employing unconventional thinking to achieve optimum efficiency. We are confident that these SKY technologies will enable us to improve global fuel economy by 30% by 2015."
He said that SKY-G, Mazda's next generation of gasoline engines, will be in New Zealand by 2011. Mazda's new SKY-D, their new diesel engine, offers a 20% improvement in fuel economy over Mazda's current 2.2 litre diesel engine.
Mazda executives wouldn't be drawn on when SKY-D diesel powered Mazda product will be available in New Zealand.