Steering Column 16.10.09


Mazda is preparing to launch a new version of its four-wheel-drive five-door known as the CX-7. It’s classed as a “crossover” car which means it’s mostly road-orientated but with some limited ability in slippery conditions.

The biggest change is to the engine. The old CX-7 was only available with a turbocharged, 2.3-litre petrol engine which punched out a snorting 254bhp and could rip off down the road quickly enough to reach 60mph in eight seconds. There’s still only one engine available, but now it’s a 2.2-litre diesel unit with a more sedate power output of 170bhp which is enough to lengthen the time it takes to reach to 62mph (there’s no 0-60mph comparison available) in 11.3 seconds.

It’s now slightly more expensive than the outgoing model, but the extra grand and a half will soon be made up with the fuel economy which has leapt by over 30 per cent from an official average of around 28mpg of petrol to a more reasonable 38mpg of diesel.

It goes on sale on November 1st with what Mazda describes as “drive characteristics more attune to a sports car, an imposing road presence and good everyday practicality”.

There’s only one model available with a price tag of £25,785 and a colour palate of five shades. It’s described as being roomy enough for five adults to travel in comfort, with a large boot and with flexible seating which folds down at the touch of one button to make the cabin flexible for load and people carrying.

It’s normally a front-wheel-drive car but when the going gets slippery, the Active Torque four-wheel-drive system can put up to 50 per cent of the torque to the back wheels to keep you going.

It’s well kitted out with safety equipment including the usual clever brakes, traction control and things like that, but it also has the new Rear Vehicle Monitoring System that uses radar to check the lane behind you on the motorway is free of vehicles before you pull out in front of them. Anyone used to using a combination of mirrors before manoeuvring on the road could be forgiven for wondering whether this sort of thing is gadgetry for gadgetry’s sake, but if it floats your boat, you can get it here.

The car looks a bit fresher now too with a wider grille in what’s becoming the new smiling family face of Mazdas, big 19-inch alloy wheels and a large rear spoiler. Inside there’s all sorts of kit, including a nine-speaker BOSE music system with a six-CD autochanger.

Future icon?

So, like I said last week, Honda motorcycles has ripped the covers off its new sports tourer, the VFR1200F, and if it proves anywhere near as universally praised and lauded as the VFRs that have brought us to this place, it’s going to be a world-beater.

The pictures show how it has been so deeply sculpted that the rider’s virtually wearing it like a suit of clothes. Honda says it has used its experience on the race-tracks of the world to develop this multi-purpose vehicle and some of the “engineering solutions” have never been seen on a road bike before.

At its heart is a new 1237cc V-four engine with the rear two cylinders close together and the front ones wider apart – a layout that has come about not only because of performance engin­eering design but also to give the bike a narrow “waist” and further improve that feeling of being sculpted to the rider’s shape.

It’s a shaft-drive bike with a fly-by-wire throttle for simplicity and accuracy, but performance and technology alone don’t sell bikes … it’s the look of the thing. No problem here. I’m not a natural fan of sports-bikes or sports tourers, but I have to say this bike is almost literally mouth-watering to look at.

I may be tempted into a test ride, but until I hear what the price will be when it’s available here early next year, I’ll maybe just keep away from it for fear of being hooked in.

Mike Grundon


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