When I was first tasked with this twin test for the new Mazda CX-7, I spent some time considering which other SUV model in the market to feature it with. I thought the likes of the Subaru Forester, Nissan Murano, Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Tucson, and I could probably pick one of these for the twin test. But none of these choices gave me a compelling feeling to use it for the test, so I decided to give it more thought. And then while I was reviewing the Audi Q7, it occurred to me that I could feature the CX-7 with the Audi Q5.
Why? Because the CX-7 can make a worthy opponent to the Q5. I’m referring to the 2.3-litre turbocharged Mazda CX-7, which is actually an SUV with five seats – dont be misled by the number 7 in its name – and the 2.0 TFSI Audi Q5, as in turbocharged. Both the CX-7 and Q5 are purported to give a sporty drive, and provide the versatilities of a family-mover at the same time.
Just introduced in Singapore earlier this year, the CX-7 was designed with the intentions of combining Mazda’s RX-8 and the MX-5 sports cars. For example, the pronounced wheelarches and narrow lights hint at the RX-8 and this slight resemblance extends inside to the sport-inspired instrument panel too. The Q5 looks like how an Audi usually does, with its aggressive large single-frame grille and LED daytime running lights. In terms of physical size, both cars are actually similar in height, length and width; except that the Q5 is 60mm longer in wheelbase, hence giving that bit more of interior space.
This part is a bit tricky, as the Q5 quattro is a permanent all-wheel drive and comes with the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission and the Audi drive select control system, whereas the CX-7 is a two-wheel-drive with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both cars are closely matched in terms of torque though the CX-7 has almost 30bhp more power than the Q5 – probably because of its higher engine capacity, amongst other reasons. However, although the CX-7 is significantly heavier, it takes almost three seconds more than the Q5 to reach 100km/h from zero. Steering in the CX-7 can do with more feedback, although sharp. The suspension of the CX-7 is pleasantly flexible, allowing the CX-7 to be quite quick on its feet in spite of its size.
The cavernous dashboard of the CX-7 gives an impression of a low-slung coupe, but with a tall ride height for a good and far view ahead. Dials and controls are neatly laid out, coupled with the intelligent multi-function steering wheel, giving the interior of the CX-7 quite a high-end feel. However, the plastics in the CX-7 fall short of those in the Q5, hence overall giving a less superior feel than the latter. Head and leg room in both cars are similar, except that the boot of the CX-7 is smaller than the Q5.
Standard features on the Q5 include electrically-adjusted front seats, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, steering-mounted controls and self-adjusting automatic headlights. Likewise, the CX-7 comes with automatic air-conditioning, audio controls on steering wheel, cruise control, powered driver’s seat and automatic HID Xenon headlights. However, whilst the Q5 could do with keyless entry and a motorised tailgate, the new turbocharged CX-7 comes standard with keyless start, rain sensor wipers and a factory-fitted reverse camera. It also houses a BOSE nine-speaker in-car sound system. Enhanced features on the Q5 like rain sensor wipers or an upgrade to a Bang and Olufsen sound system are optional.
The badge appeal and refined driveability of the Q5 helps to explain a large part of the premium its price commands over the CX-7. However, if you don’t need such advanced driving technology in your car, the CX-7 should suffice for you. In addition, its host of standard amenities is pretty impressive.
Mazda CX-7 2.3 (A) turbocharged
Engine: 2,300cc 16v inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic with manual quick shift
Max Power: 238bhp at 5,000rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm at 2,500rpm
0-100km/h: 10.0 secs
Top speed: 181km/h
Distributor: Mazda Singapore
Audi Q5 2.0 (A) quattro
Engine: 1,984cc 16v inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch
Max Power: 211bhp at 4,300rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm at 1,500-4,200rpm
0-100km/h: 7.2 secs
Top speed: 222km/h
Distributor: Premium Automobiles