Basically an elongated CX-5 that can accommodate seven, the Mazda CX-8 breezed into local new-car showrooms late in 2018 to sit between the mid-sized CX-5 and the larger, petrol-engined CX-9.
The CX-8 range comprises three models featuring a single drivetrain, so let's take a close look to find the one that best suits you and your budget.
At $43,410 (plus on-road costs) the front-wheel drive CX-8 Sport model comes with the following standard features:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Seven-inch colour infotainment touch screen
- Bluetooth hands-free mobile and audio streaming
- Satellite navigation
- Digital and internet radio
- Blind spot monitoring
- Hill launch assist
- Reversing camera
There are seven colours to choose from, with some finishes attracting a $495 premium.
Safety and Driver Assistance for Mazda CX-8
All models in the CX-8 range come with six airbags plus mandatory anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, along with roll and traction control systems. Also standard are front and rear smart city brake support (autonomous emergency braking), a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert, all of which make reversing safer. Taking the stress out of towing is the trailer stability assist and all models come with traffic sign recognition.
On the driver assist ledger each variant has lane keep and departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, hill launch and forward obstruction warning. Taking a step up from the Sport to the Asaki adds front parking sensors, a 360-degree view system and adaptive LED headlamps to light corners when you turn in.
CX-8 Infotainment, Comfort and Convenience
Standard across all variants is a seven-inch colour touchscreen that includes satellite navigation, internet radio integration, digital radio and – for those who remember – an AM/FM tuner. Naturally, Bluetooth music and phone streaming are givens, as are steering wheel mounted controls. If you want a superior sound when listening to your songs, shimmy over to the Asaki and its 273-watt Bose premium audio system with 10-speakers, four more than in the Sport.
If multi-zone air conditioning is a must have convenience, the good news is it's standard for all models.
Is a heated steering wheel a feature you'd like? Then head directly to the Asaki model that also has real wood door and dash trimmings. Adding to the prestige vibe of the Asaki are two-tone nappa leather seats with heating in the front and the outer two seats in row two, while the Sport makes do with cloth trim and no heated pews.
What about rear door sunshades to keep the kids cool on long trips? They are only available on the Asaki, but that also has 10-way driver and six-way front passenger powered seats with two memory settings for the driver seat, which also offers power-adjustable lumbar support.
When your hands are full a remote opening tailgate is extremely handy, but to get it you have to stump up for the Asaki.
Outside, the Asaki is distinguished by its LED front fog lamps and day running lights, plus it's perched on 19-inch alloys, two inches bigger than those on the Sport.
Engine and transmission choices
The Mazda CX-8 offers a simple, one-size-fits-all drivetrain: A 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder engine producing 140kW and 450Nm of torque, bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The CX-8 Sport is available in both front and all-wheel drive configuration, and the Asaki is all-wheel drive only.
Prices for the Mazda CX-8 range are as follows (plus on-road costs):
Sport front-wheel drive – $43,410
Sport all-wheel drive – $47,410
Asaki all-wheel drive – $62,590
Verdict on Mazda CX-8
The Mazda CX-8 Sport hits the sweet spot for me whether I am buying with one eye on the piggy bank or buying without financial constraints.
I'd opt for the all-wheel drive version just for the extra versatility that comes with it for a trip to the snow or heaven forbid, off the beaten track. To me, the price jump to the Asaki just doesn't stack up.