When Family Matters
SUVs have become a popular choice among car buyers these days. The sense of adventure… or at least a semblance of it, makes the SUV an appealing formula for many. You see, dreams and aspirations is something that is woven into the fabric of our being.
And perhaps the thought of lugging the family around in something utilitarian like an MPV, would not sit so well with some. In-fact, Mazda has even stopped producing MPVs (for now), and have instead, placed a little more focus on their SUV range.
The CX-8 is Mazda’s newest edition in Singapore, and wedges itself between the CX-5 and flagship CX-9 SUV here. The CX-8, like the larger CX-9 is designed to do what an MPV traditionally does, which is to haul the family.
The larger CX-8 takes many of its styling cues from the CX-5. From its sleek front-end, to its tapered window design. It does however share the very same 2,930mm wheelbase as the CX-9, though overall shorter by about 18cm. The CX-8 SUV was built primarily to satisfy Japanese domestic demand, since it would be the largest SUV they could offer over there.
The CX-8 shares the same dash as the CX-5, and boasts a part-analogue and digital instrument panel. One of the things you will appreciate is Mazda’s build quality. Materials chosen have a pleasant feel to them, and we would dare say that fit and finish is arguably the best in-class. If you are unconvinced, just simply run your hand down the door cards, below the grab handles, and you will realise that Mazda had not held back on quality, even where you may not see it.
While this Mazda SUV might be new in Singapore, it does not have the newer infotainment unit found in both the Mazda 3 and the CX-30 models. Our test car which is the 6-seater variant and only available in Luxury trim, is equipped with premium sound from BOSE, and for all variants, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity is standard.
I appreciate how the seats have been designed to be comfortable. Middle row passengers benefit from heaps of legroom, while adult passengers at the rear still get respectable leg space, though there is no support for the thighs, a common issue with such cars.
As a 6-seater variant, the cup holders which would have been located within the armrest in the middle for the 7-seater model, are instead sited just below the air-conditioning vents. Believe me when I say this, the six seat variant is the best option among the three models available, and here’s why...
You do not have to worry about folding the middle row to let the rear passengers in, since there is an isle between the middle seats, and you will be thankful for your choice when it is an almost daily event of loading the troops into the car; and air circulation to the rear seats is also better.
With all seats deployed, the CX-8 has a 209 litre boot, which is spacious enough for the average grocery run. With the third and second rows folded, cargo room increases to 775 litres and 1,727 litres respectively. One major gripe I have is that Mazda has not provided a cargo cover for the CX-8.
Power is from a 2.5 litre SKYACTIV-G in-line four, but unlike the CX-9, which is turbocharged, Mazda had decided to keep this as an NA engine instead, it does however boast a 13:1 compression ratio, which is very high. With 192hp and 258Nm on-tap, drive to the front wheels is via Mazda’s very own 6-speed automatic transmission.
In a time where turbocharged engines are increasingly popular, the CX-8’s linear delivery adds even more drivability and smoothness to your driving experience. Abundant torque is immediately available, with it peaking at 4,000rpm. You go get a transmission that jerks a little between gears if you were to work the engine hard, which is not what the CX-8 is intended for.
The interior is well-insulated, and road noise from those 225/55R19 is quite minimal. You will also find that this SUV does its best work when you are driving in a relaxed manner. On paper, the CX-8 delivers 12.3km/l in combined cycle, we managed even better at 13.1km/l.
The Mazda might be tall, but it does feel surprisingly planted around the bends. The 2.5 litre engine feels willing to deliver, and the drive entertaining. Mazda’s now-famous G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) plays a large role in ensuring improved stability and comfort. GVC Plus works by tweaking engine torque in response to steering inputs, with the purpose of optimising loads on individual wheels for a more comfortable and efficient driving experience. GVC Plus, which is its second generation incarnation, also lightly applies brakeforce to the outer wheels, to aid in recovering the car to run in a straight line. The best part of it all, is that you will not feel most of this working for you.
Adding another layer of safety is Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE, a full suite which includes Adaptive Headlamps, Lane-Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Advanced Smart City Brake Support; which functions both during the day and at night. ‘Luxury’ CX-8 variants also are equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring capabilities, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
For those who may like the room provided in the larger CX-9, but find that it is priced too high, the CX-8 offers identical interior room, though with a little less boot space. Sure it also has less grunt than its larger sibling, but still performs well enough... and is $20k less.
So if you would like to own a “people mover” but an MPV simply does not cut it, then the Mazda CX-8 is quite the ideal choice, and it is also priced competitively against its rivals.
Credits: Words and Photos by Clifford Chow