New car review: Mazda CX-8 Asaki AWD

The upgrade, while relatively modest makes the accomplished medium-large SUV that little bit better.

Launched only mid-last year, Mazda has seen fit to already update its CX-8 seven-seater SUV.

Road Ahead readers would have seen our new car review in the October/November issue of the magazine. The CX-8 largely made a big impression, the three-model range providing a turbo-diesel offering to complement the petrol-only CX-9.

As its nomenclature suggests, the CX-8 sits between the medium-sized CX-5 and large CX-9, being close to the former’s width and height, and 350mm longer but 175mm shorter than the latter. 

The review praised its standard equipment level, premium-look interior, safety features, engine performance, relatively frugal fuel consumption and quiet, composed ride.

As with SUVs fitted with a third row, the CX-8 does not fulfil the role of everyday seven-seater as convincingly as do the best of the purpose-built people movers, such as Kia’s Carnival. In short, the SUVs can accommodate the extra passengers, or carry a generous amount of cargo, but struggle to do both. 

However, back to the update, which includes G-Vectoring Control Plus, an advanced version of GVC that adds direct yaw moment control for improved stability and handling, along with. tyre pressure monitoring system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Mazda CX-8

Our test rig, the range-topping all-wheel-drive Asaki, which retails for $62,590 (not inclusive of on-road costs), now also boasts some subtle interior and exterior styling touches, front seat ventilation and a 7-inch TFT LCD information meter display, which makes a wider variety of information and functions available to the driver.

Carried over, as you would expect so early in a model’s life cycle, is Mazda’s 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Good for 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the CX-8 delivers impressive, low-down and mid-range performance. ADR combined cycle fuel consumption is 9.9 litres/100km, however we did better than that in averaging 9.5 on test.

Though mentioned earlier, it bears repeating just how quiet and refined the interior is at any speed and over just about any road surface. NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) is impressively contained.

The upgrade, while relatively modest, has served to make what was already an accomplished medium-large SUV with the ability to carry occasional extra passengers, that little bit better. Win-win, if you’re planning on buying one.

  • PRICE: $62,590 (+ on-road costs)
  • ENGINE: 2.2-litre, turbo diesel 4-cyl.
  • ANCAP safety rating: 5 star.
  • FOR: More equipment, extensive safety, all-round smooth drive.
  • AGAINST: Better suited to occasional use as seven-seater, spacesaver spare.