It’s naturally smaller than the CX-9 – shorter and narrower – slotting between it and the mid-sized CX-5 which begs the question why it was necessary to carry other large SUV with seven seats.
But the cabin is more luxurious and Mazda says this smaller size is an advantage as it affords more manoeuvrability.
In any case, the numbering system is there for a reason and a gap to fill between the CX-9 and the CX-7 from half a dozen years ago.
The body of the Mazda CX-8 follows the accepted design of the age with sweeping lines, rounded edges and a roof spoiler.
The front end boasts the standard front wing lip and Mazda grille which I like to a friendly whale shark with an open mouth.
Though black the cabin is sleek with high standard of fit and finish; almost luxury-esque.
The seats aren’t leather in Mazda CX-8 Sport but are upholstered in a soft fabric which doesn’t take away from the refinement.
Leather can be found on the steering wheel, gear shifter on the door trims and centre console in a brown/burgundy tone.
The dashboard is very European, uncluttered and glossy.
The raised touchscreen, dual climate controls, and wide floor console with control dial populate this area.
As with many current SUV designs, the rear roofline slopes to the back giving a sleekier exterior look but rear passengers may feel closed in with less headroom.
The third row of seats snap easily into place as do the headrests which fold down 90 degrees to tuck them away again.
For those with child seats, all five rear seats possess tether points for extra convenience.
The boot is adequate with seats up or down and wall pockets in towards the rear create more space for wide items.
Other features worth a mention are sat-nav, digital radio, auto start (aka iStop), an electric park brake with auto hold and push button start.
The driver head up display is always a neat inclusion, displaying numerous bits of info, though may be a distraction to some.
The centre console bin has two wing doors for that extra style though there isn’t a sunroof or powered tailgate.
Drive and Engine
A good drive is one where nothing stands out during the test drive and you just literally go along for the ride.
The Mazda CX-8 is another one of those experiences.
It had nice dynamics, was responsive when needed to be and was well-balanced just like the best offerings from Kia or Hyundai.
The steering was properly balanced and had accommodating suspension.
While the 2.2 litre twin turbo engine was nicely matched to the six-speed transmission and had very good pickup for diesel, while still being quiet inside the cabin.
You get some good range from the diesel tank, over 600km, and of course decent fuel consumption (I averaged8.8L/100km)
The CX-8 Sport comes in both FWD and AWD.
Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE safety package is fitted into the CX-8 consisting of AEB with pedestrian detection, speed limit detection, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive headlamps.
Lane departure, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert (which are almost standard the norm now) are also included.
All of this technology comes standard across the range.
- Safety inclusions
- Interior styling
- Driving dynamics and suspension
Not So Good Bits
- Can’t find any
While the Mazda CX-8 is not too dissimilar from CX-9 it does offer some elegant styling with seven seats and a diesel engine in a smaller package.
It operated as a very good family car to carry everything and everyone in comfort for a week of test driving.
Overall, there were no real issues that stood out with great safety inclusions, reliable drive and terrific fit and finish.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Mazda CX-8 Sport
- Engine: 2.2L four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel producing 140kW/450Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed sports automatic
- Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Not tested
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $42,490