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Mazda's CX-7 news - What lies be niche - 2008

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How big is a ‘niche within a niche’? Would it even be called
a niche? Wouldn’t it be something smaller: a crevice, a cranny, a cubbyhole? 

But a niche within a niche is how Mazda is describing the
CX-7, its new SUV due to go on sale here in September. And it reckons the niche
is about 1,500 cars deep: that’s how many it expects to sell in the UK in its
first year.

The micro-niche, says Mazda, is that of ‘sports crossover’.
“The CX-7 is different because it is more heavily oriented towards a
sports car in its styling and driving dynamics, while retaining the commanding
driving position, presence and stature of an off-road vehicle,” said
Mazda’s Mark Cameron. 

In truth, the CX-7 isn’t such a new idea. It’s been sold
since early 2006 in Japan and the US, and the positive response from those
markets has encouraged Mazda to bring it to the UK. </p><p>The
suspension has been altered - presumably hardened - for the European market,
but aside from that the CX-7 remains the same. 

Powered by the 2.3-litre turbocharged four-pot from the
Mazda3 MPS, the CX-7 develops 256bhp - put to the road through a six-speed
manual ‘box. The power delivery curve is slightly broader than that of the MPS,
with peak torque arriving at 5,000 rather than 5,500rpm.

That’s good for a 0-60mph time of eight seconds flat and a
top speed of 130mph: not exactly blistering, but rapid enough in the
high-riding CX-7.

Despite being fitted with Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system -
which uses two magnetic clutches to transfer torque between the front and rear
wheels - the CX-7 doesn’t pretend to be an off-roader. 

“The CX-7 is not a huge vehicle designed for the
country that will be brought into town,” said Cameron. “It’s an urban
 soft-roader.” 

But is it any good? We like the CX-7’s looks - all swoopy
curves and raked windscreen - and when our man Bill Thomas got a sneak
test-drive, he was impressed by its road manners.

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