IT'S not often that a manufacturer manages to make a four-wheel-drive vehicle look sporty – but Mazda has managed it with the CX-7.
And the latest version of this spacious SUV/Crossover is even more dynamic in appearance than the original.
The basic shape has remained the same but the latest car now has a far more pronounced grille, larger rear spoilers, 19-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass. No shrinking violet this one.
And the nice thing is beauty is not just skin deep with the CX-7. It not only looks sporty but drives like a sports car too, which is impressive for a vehicle of this size and weight.
It really does handle well at speed and the road holding and grip on corners leaves little to be desired.
When it was first launched, the CX-7 was powered by a petrol engine but Mazda has decided to make the switch and the new one has all the benefits of a gutsy 2.2-litre diesel, linked to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It’s a large, spacious vehicle but the 173bhp engine makes light work of propelling it and there is power aplenty.
The nice thing is, however, it will still average more than 42 miles per gallon so it’s light on the pocket.
Despite buying a vehicle with four-wheel-drive capability most people rarely take them into the mud. And for that reason the CX-7 – under normal circumstances – operates as a front-wheel-drive vehicle to save fuel.
When the going gets tough, however, it can switch up to 50 per cent of engine torque to the rear wheels to get you out of trouble.
The interior is functional rather than fussy with a good mix of sportiness, comfort and practicality.
Facing the driver is a group of three dials with the speedometer being the dominant central one, very much as Porsche makes its rev counter the dominant central dial.
Standard features include leather seats, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control and electric driver’s and front passenger’s heated seats.
You also get bespoke BOSE premium surround sound audio system, integrated satellite navigation and Bluetooth technology.
There’s plenty of interior space with the bonus of good all-round vision because of the height of the CX-7 and there is more than ample space in the luggage area, which is long but not too deep.
Among the latest safety features is a new Emergency Stop Signalling (ESS) system which activates the hazard warning lights when the driver brakes abruptly.
The CX-7 is a SUV/crossover for the driver who wants something different and will definitely tick all the right boxes.
It’s a very practical vehicle but its macho, muscular design ensures that is has plenty of street cred for the driver who wants to get him or herself noticed.
Mechanical: 173bhp, 2,184cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 11.3 seconds
Combined mpg: 42.8
CO2 emissions: 199g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles