While other markets have had the CX-7 since 2006, Mazda Philippines only decided to bring in their 5 seat crossover in 2009, when entries from all the other manufacturers have already established themselves in the class. Was the extra time they took to bring in the CX-7 worth it?
For one, it's certainly fashionable. It definitely doesn't look like a classic SUV, doing away with the boxiness they're normally associated with. The CX-7 is already the refreshed version, featuring an enhanced design and improved refinements. The front fascia features Mazda's new five-point lower grille, a feature found on the rest of the Mazda lineup. There's the inherent dynamism about the way the body was conceived, especially when it comes to the details and the surfacing, taking hints from other Mazda's like the RX-8. Great details like the power bulge on the hood, the silver rimmed foglamp bezels and the chrome lip on the grille enhances the CX-7's character.
Some have said that the CX-7 looks quite odd, but that's a little understandable. The proportions are a little different too. It's wider than the usual crossover SUV at 1872mm, though its roofline is a little lower than others. The oddness goes away, however, upon opening the door.
It feels more premium than its pricetag should allow, and that's always a good thing. All the touch surfaces are textured right, all the buttons feel great to operate, everything feels like it was made with top quality in mind. The steering wheel is perfectly shaped, and features controls for nearly all pertinent vehicle functions like the climate control, the audio system, cruise control and the multi info display.
Room and space is also great. There's plenty of hip room to go around, given the CX-7's width, hence the back row is truly fit for 3 adults. A 3rd row is a tight fit with the proportions, therefore it hasn't been installed. After settling into the driver's seat with the power adjust seat and the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, it's time to start her up.
The engine is the same power unit found in the Mazda6; makes sense as the CX-7 shares its architecture with the Mazda6. It's a 2.5 liter twin cam, 16 valve motor. It's good for 163 PS and 205 Newton meters of torque which, as you would now surmise, isn't exactly great for the 1.5 tonnes of weight, but the powertrain handles it quite well -acceleration wise- as it is mated to a shorter ratioed 5-speed automatic. I do wish they brought in the 2.3 liter DISI turbo motor
Driving the CX-7 is quite a different experience, especially if you've already been behind the wheel of the Mazda line. The CX-7 isn't as zoom-zoom as I expected and is biased more towards comfort, as it leans and rolls slightly more than what I had in mind. Maybe wider rims, stiffer sidewalled low profile tires and stiffer spring rates would bring it more in line, but I do like the progressiveness of the way the suspension works.
Nevertheless, with the car's great level of features, undeniable style and space, the CX-7 has what it takes. With a very reasonable pricetag just under PhP 1.5M, it's a great value proposition too, and proves that it doesn't matter if you arrive rather late in the game.
If it's great, it's worth the extra wait.