Wish Mazda had a mid-sized seven-seater SUV offering? It might soon come true.
Last week, Mazda Philipines flew members of the media out to Penang, Malaysia, to give us a sneak peek at what will be hitting our shores very soon. Their new mid-sized seven-seater SUV offering, called the CX-8, is hoped to fill the gap between the CX-5 crossover and their big CX-9 SUV.
Our introduction to the new model happened on October 1, at Mazda Malaysia’s facility in Kulim where the CX-8 is manufactured for the local Malaysian market and the region. We had the privilege of attending the ceremonial roll off of their locally produced CX-8.
There, a ceremonial handover of the keys to the CX-8 by Mazda Malaysia’s Plant Manager, Hajime Sasaki to Bermaz Auto’s Executive Chairman, Dato’ Sri Ben Yeoh, took place. At the ceremony, we were introduced to the CX-8’s Program Manager, Koichiro Yamaguchi of Mazda Motor Corporation, who presented the new CX-8 in detail.
The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s got all the Kodo design cues that the rest of Mazda’s line-up has. If there’s one word that echoed throughout the presentation, it was Mazda’s human-centered design philosophy, called Jinba Ittai, where man and machine move together as one. To fulfill this, Mazda’s engineers went as far as to make sure a person of any size would be able to find an ideal driving position.
Applied to the CX-8, it offers comfort for larger adults in the second row and can accommodate people as tall as 170 cm in the third row. The rear doors open up to 80-degrees for easier ingress, egress, loading and unloading large items.
Engineers strived to make the cabin as quiet as possible, allowing occupants of all three rows to converse easily with each other. Road and wind noise is reduced with enhanced insulation for the cabin. Sound absorbent materials were applied to the base of the D pillars while dampening was inserted in the rear fender panels to suppress vibrations that could translate to noise in the third row. Gaps between the roof spoiler and roof molding reduce wind noise which would seep into the cabin..
The CX-8 will be produced in three variants: the base 2WD Skyactiv-G 2.5L has a seven-seat, 2-3-2 configuration across three benches. The next variant has a six-seater 2-2-2 row configuration with second row captain seats, that allow you to walk-through between the second and third row seats. The last six-seater variant has a centre console between the two seats on the second row. This is offered in a choice of Skyactiv-G 2.5L in 2WD or the Skyactiv-D 2.2L in AWD. All variants, including diesel, will be paired with the Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, along with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus).
The interior trim is in black fabric for the base variants and the top two variants will have black leather seats. Standard equipment includes triple zone air conditioning, adjustable rear vents, and power adjustable driver seats. The Mazda Connect Infotainment features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Except for the base seven-seater variant, the rest of the CX-8 variants will be equipped with Mazda’s i-ActivSense advanced safety technologies like Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Smart City Brake Support.
Following the ceremonies, we got a chance to take some variants of the CX-8 for a quick test drive around the highways in the area.
Our convoy of about 15 CX-8’s were soon hitting highway speeds of 110 km/h. Our vehicle, powered by the Skyactiv-G 2.5L, felt adequate for its size. Acceleration was acceptable and when you gun the accelerator, you can hear the engine do its work. Release the throttle and it upshifts and goes quiet. Though the CX-8 is larger than the CX-5, it’s easy to drive and handles like a smaller vehicle. There was some body roll, but this was mitigated somewhat by Mazda’s engineering. Despite the pace, it was easy to talk amongst ourselves as the interior was quiet with little need to turn up our music to enjoy it.
Mazda Philippines has yet to announce when the new CX-8 will come to our country or how much it will cost. Fingers crossed, it should happen soon. Mazda’s refined CX-8 is sure to give the established brands who offer mid-sized SUV’s a run for their money.
Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan