Mazda sports utility vehicle sibling rivalry just got hotter, with a reborn five-year-old
CX-8 refitted out and snapping at big brother CX-9’s heels, while fending off the
challenge of the mid-size CX-5.

Available in six grades – Sport, Touring, Touring Active, GT SP, Asaki and Asaki LE
– with petrol or diesel power front or all-wheel drive, the entry-level Sport FWD petrol
comes to market at $42,060, plus on-road costs, while the Asaki LE diesel AWD tips
the scales at $71,410.

Rearranging the chairs, the Touring Active takes over where the old Touring diesel
stood, while the GT SP fills the gap left by the absence of the petrol and diesel Touring
SP and GT models. On test was the GT SP petrol, which takes in premium touches
such as power sliding and tilting sunroof and burgundy or black leather seat trim.
Mazda’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with roadside assistance, applies
across the model range, with service intervals of 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

Mazda designers have modernised the CX-8 exterior with bold new front and rear
bumpers, and tailgate, LED headlamps and tail lights, while a new front grille
maintains the company’s Kodo – Soul of Motion design tradition.

New signature wings add a premium quality feel, a metallic finish reflecting light in
motion, enhancing vehicle dynamics, maybe the colour too, in this case Soul Red
Crystal Metallic. Black metallic and machined finish 19-inch wheels give a lift to the
sleek styling and sophistication of the GT SP.

Three rows of seats, with quality finishes, offer enough space to fit all but the most
broad-beamed family members comfortably on short trips or long journeys. Massive
rear doors open to almost 90 degrees – there are sun shades too – but there’s still
some clambering to do to settle in the third row.

Once in, the upright back rest and the cramped knee situation are not conducive to long-
distance comfort. There’s limited head room here but the GT SP does have the power
adjustment and rear seat heaters of upper specced variants.

A non-too generous 209 litres of cargo space is available with all seats in operation.
A removable base boots capacity to 242 litres. With the third row folded the total
rises to 775 litres.

Call me out of touch but I remain a fan of the switch-and-knob style of control of in-
cabin tech. There is nothing worse than sticky fingerprints on the touchscreen. The
CX-8 centre-console rotary control set-up is my kind of connection.

Some previous CX-8s had only half-smart levels of phone mirroring. Mazda has fixed
this and updates now offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly. Also newly
included is wireless device charging and 10-speaker Bose audio.

On offer is the choice of two engines – a 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol or 2.2 litre
turbodiesel – both mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The test vehicle
included the former, which came up with maximum power of 140 kW at 6000 rpm
and maximum torque of 252 Nm at 4000 rpm.

Diesel versions boast all-wheel drive, while petrol motors have to make do with front-
wheel operation only.

The Mazda CX-8 was a five-star rating when it was introduced in 2018. As little has
been significantly changed the Australasian New Car Assessment Program says it
will not be retesting the latest version.

Included are blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, rear-cross traffic alert, tyre
pressure monitoring, traffic sign recognition and Isofix child seat anchors for two of
the rear seats.

A reversing camera is standard across the range but only in the Asaki and LE is
there a full 360-degree system.

The 2.5 litre four-cylinder motor sends a maximum 140 kW of power and 252 Nm of
torque to the front wheels only, putting the brake, so to speak, on top-notch towing.

Maximum rating is 1800 kg.

The six-speed transmission is left behind by rivals with more cogs but it doesn’t
seem to affect the CX-8 unduly, producing a smooth run through all but the upper
echelons of the rev band. Engine noise is the downside here.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be an average of 8.1 litres per 100km for the petrol
front-wheel drive on the combines urban / highway cycle. The test vehicle came up
with 11.4 litres per 100 kilometres in city and suburban work and 6.1 litres per 100
kilometres on motorway cruising.

With a bit of heft to handle, the ride can be hostage to some bumps and bangs over
bad roads. Steering responds with feeling and is particularly efficient in parking
manoeuvres at lower speeds.
Front-wheel-drive versions of the CX-8 miss out on the Mazda Mi-Drive switchable
driving modes allowing the driver to choose between Normal, Sport, Off-Road and a
towing mode.

All-round vision for the driver is limited by large rear-view mirrors and a slim rear
window but I do rate the clarity of the head-up (any head-up) windscreen display.

Fitting in can be a challenge to anyone going through adolescence. Doing a person’s
best for elders can be elusive and so could be the case of the CX-8. Thankfully
Mazda has taken the large SUV and planed off some of the prickly sides to its
character, leaving an acceptable member of a growing family.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 6/10
Safety: 8/10
Thirst: 6/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 7/10


Mazda CX-8 G25 Sport FWD: $42,060
Mazda CX-8 G25 Touring FWD: $48,960
Mazda CX-8 D35 Sport AWD: $49,060
Mazda CX-8 D35 Touring Active AWD: $56,910
Mazda CX-8 GT SP G25 FWD: $58,560
Mazda CX-8 Asaki G25 FWD: $61,810
Mazda CX-8 GT SP D35 AWD: $65,560
Mazda CX-8 Asaki D35 AWD: $68,810
Mazda CX-8 Asaki LE D35 AWD: $71,410
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact
your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-8 GT SP 2.5L 4-cylinder petrol, 6sp automatic, FWD

Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 252 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.1 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed torque converter automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
Length: 4925 mm
Wheelbase: 2930 mm
Width: 1845 mm
Height: 1725 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1827 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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