2018 Mazda CX-8 SUV Launch Review

Mazda Launches the all new CX-8 SUV

Mazda CX-8 Overview

Mazda CX-8 joins the the Australian SUV market that has been steadily growing since about 2011. The segment now represents about 45-50% of the passenger and LCV market.

At the forefront of this surge sits Mazda. They have segment leaders in the CX-5 and CX9, both of which we have reviewed a number of times.

The launch I went to this week for the new CX-8 sees Mazda plug a gap that is amply filled by competitors.

Whilst the CX-5 comes in both diesel and petrol engines the CX-8 comes with a single engine, diesel, as the CX-9 comes with only a petrol engine.

The CX-8 range includes three model grades; Sport FWD, Sport AWD and Asaki AWD.


Mazda CX-8 External

There isn’t a lot to say about the CX-8. It carries the same design and look of both the CX-5 and CX-9. The familial resemblance is obvious.

This means that it looks sleek, smart and stylish. It sits lower than other SUV style vehicles, more wagon like. The roof rails accentuate the sleek design

While it shares the same platform and wheelbase of the CX-9 it is slightly shorter overall and much narrower, more towards the CX-5 in width and height.


Mazda CX-8 Internal

Inside, the first thing you notice is the clean, crisp lines that are typically Mazda, which means great quality.

Front occupants are well catered for, with the Sport fabric seats very comfortable and supportive, especially in the lumbar region. The Asaki seats are obviously leather appointed and with electric adjustment, able to be positioned for superior comfort.

I found the driver’s seat to be slightly off centre to the steering wheel, but others on the launch didn’t feel the same. The steering wheel (heated in the Asaki) is small framed and the stalks for the lights and wipers sit above the spokes of the steering wheel for better visibility.

The dash layout is a familiar three ring style, excellent clarity. The heads up display is amongst the best in terms of visibility and brightness and doesn’t polarise out like many.

The centre console and stack layout, again, is typically Mazda and functions without fuss. I do like the ease of use for the dial controls for the 7 inch touch screen display unit.

I don’t like the twin lid centre console bin. These seem unnecessarily fussy to my mind, but that is a personal dislike, rather than a design flaw.

All round visibility is as expected and the clever 360 degree cameras on the Asaki are a welcome safety feature.

Mazda CX-8 Diesel introduces a new colour pallet, with deep red tones introduced through sumptuous Dark Russet nappa leather on the Asaki, while Sport offers black cloth with the same dark red hues weaved into the material.

Asaki is also offered with Pure White nappa leather and adds real wood trim to the instrument and door panels for added warmth and elegance, befitting of a top spec model.

So the front occupants, with plenty of head and shoulder room are well catered for.

The second row occupants have relatively easy access and the outer two seats are suitable for adult passengers. The seat squab is a little short. The middle seat is better suited to sitting a handbag on or smaller teen passenger. On the Asaki the two outer seats are heated.

Being the same width as the CX-5 the middle row of seats are a little crowded with three people aboard. The third row seats are suited to occupants less than 170cm tall. The rear seats provide flexibility though, folding flat to provide a long load area.


Access to the third row seats is facilitated by wide rear doors that open out to 80 degrees from the body, and with a simple pull of a high-mounted lever on the second row, the back rest folds and the seat slides forward to allow extra space for easy access in and out of the third row.

Cabin storage is plentiful for all three rows, and luggage storage in the back is a generous 209 litres (VDA) when all three rows are in use. With the third row down, storage increases to 742 litres (VDA) and to an enormous 1,727 litres (VDA) when the second row is laid flat. There is also a sub-boot with an additional 33 litres of underfloor storage.


 Mazda CX-8 Features

The Mazda CX-8 comes in two grades.

The Sport features include:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels in Gun Metallic finish with 225/65 tyres
  • Headlamps (LED) with auto on/off function
  • Power mirrors (body coloured with heating and auto-folding function)
  • Wipers front 2-speed with rain-sensing function
  • Active Driving Display
  • Air-conditioning (three-zone climate control) with independent rear control
  • Rear-view mirror with auto dimming function
  • Rear seats with: Centre armrest storage and USB charging ports (2nd row)
  • Seat trim: black cloth 7-inch touchscreen display  (MZD Connect)
  • Audio system with AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth® capability, Digital radio (DAB+) and 6 speakers
  • Satellite navigation

Features of the Asaki over the Sport include:

  • 19-inch alloy wheels in Bright Silver finish with 225/55 tyres
  • Daytime running lamps (LED)
  • Front fog-lamps (LED)
  • Remote-operated power tailgate (open/close)
  • Heated steering wheel function
  • Front seats with: 2-position memory function (driver), 6-way power adjustment (passenger),  10-way adjustment (driver) and heating function
  • Rear seats with: Heating function (2nd row outer)
  • Rear door window sunshade
  • Seat trim: Dark Russet or Pure White nappa leather
  • Premium Bose® 273 watt amplifier and 10 speakers (including subwoofer)
  • Real wood door and dashboard trim inserts
  • 360° View Monitor
  • Parking sensors (front)
  • Adaptive LED Headlamps (ALH)
  • Advanced keyless entry


MZD Connect makes it easier to access the internet and social networking services while in the car. In addition to the usual audio functions, it supports hands-free mobile phone operation, web-based communication functions and navigation functions using data from an SD card. There is no Apple CarPlay®/Android® Auto (but coming soon).

Brand-New Mazda CX-8 Diesel is available in seven exterior colours: Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Machine Grey Metallic, Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Sonic Silver Metallic, Titanium Flash Mica, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, and Jet Black Mica, with a choice of three trims: black fabric on Sport, Pure White nappa leather or Dark Russet nappa leather on Asaki


Mazda CX-8 Engine and Drivetrain

Mazda has decided to fit the same diesel engine that sits in the CX-5 into the CX-8. This is an advanced 2.2L SKYACTIV-D twin-turbo diesel engine, producing a maximum of 140kW of power at 4,500rpm and a huge 450Nm of torque at 2,000rpm.

This power and torque is delivered either to the front wheels or all wheels through a SKYACTIV Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

The many SKYACTIV technologies at play help to achieve combined fuel consumption of 5.7L/100km for the Sport FWD variant, and 6.0L/100km for the Sport and Asaki AWD variants.

Mazda’s i-ACTIV AWD predictive  all-wheel-drive system, used for both  the Sport and Asaki models, uses 27 individual sensors to monitor both driver actions and constantly changing driving conditions, to maximise grip and prevent front wheel slip.


Mazda CX-8 What is it like to drive?

Around town the CX-8 performs more than adequately and more than most drivers would want or expect. The diesel engine and 6 speed transmission are enough to move the CX-8 along with the traffic.

Around town the CX-8 provides a very comfortable, quiet and smooth ride for its occupants. The suspension geometry is better suited to city roads and freeways.

The CX-8 was found lacking some dynamism on the back roads where the combination of soft suspension and a hefty 200kg weight penalty over the CX-5 meant that it felt at times sluggish and wallowed on some corners etc.

You also needed to plan some overtaking manoeuvres as the take-off was delayed at times. Put simply more weight and the same power means less performance.

To be honest, given how pleasing the CX-5 and CX-9 are, this was disappointing.  However when you look at the majority of buyer profiles, it will suit their purpose comfortably.

There was little road, tyre or wind noise in most conditions. The Asaki on 19 inch wheels with 225/55 profile tyres felt more connected to the road without sacrificing ride comfort.

Mazda CX-8 Dimensions

The Mazda CX-8 shares the same platform as the CX-9 with the same wheelbase but is some 175mm shorter overall. It is also the same width as the CX-5.

The CX-8 has an

  • overall length of 4900mm,
  • wheelbase of 2930mm,
  • width of 1840mm and
  • Height of 1725mm.
  • Unladen ground clearance 205mm
  • Turning circle is 5.8m
  • Kerb mass of 1957kg.
  • Towing capacity is 2000kg and tow ball rating is up to 100kg


Mazda CX-8 Safety

While the ANCAP rating it yet to be determined, Mazda has applied a comprehensive list of i-ACTIVESENSE safety features as standard to the Brand-New Mazda CX-8 Diesel, offering drivers and passengers the best technology available, along with a reassuring peace of mind.

Standard features include:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM),
  • High Beam Control (HBC),
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA),
  • Lane-keep Assist System (LAS),
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW),
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with Stop & Go function,
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA),
  • Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse] (SCBS F/R),
  • Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR),
  • Reverse camera and rear parking sensors.

Asaki adds even more safety equipment, including:

  • Mazda’s new 360° View Monitor,
  • front parking sensors,
  • Adaptive LED Headlamps (ALH) and
  • Advanced keyless entry.

A number of designed-in, passive safety features further strengthen Brand-New Mazda CX-8 Diesel’s credentials, including a high-strength SKYACTIV-Body, which effectively absorbs and disperses impact forces from the front, sides and rear to suppress cabin deformation in the event of an accident.

Mazda CX-8 Fit for Purpose

The Mazda CX-8 is designed for the family, obviously. For drivers than need 7 seats, but find the CX-9 just a little too big for their liking.

Obviously having the width of the CX-5 means that three across the middle row is a little cramped, however the third row seats have adequate room for early teen passengers.

Even with the rear seats in use there is a little room for school bags etc. As mentioned the two rear seat rows fold flat to give a flexible load area.

As an around town family SUV and as a family getaway vehicle the CX-8 is an excellent fit for purpose.

Mazda CX-8 Summary

Mazda has built a sterling reputation with quality built vehicles. The CX-8 continues that tradition.

There is a large gap between the Sport and Asaki in pricing, more than the value of what is offered, I believe. The Sport is impressively stocked with standard features.

While the CX-8 really is well built and has an impressive list of safety features on the Sport, it doesn’t live up to the expected levels of dynamic ride and handling on Australia’s outback roads that has been established by the CX-5 and CX-9.

If you are buying the CX-8 for a city run-around then it will deliver in spades.

The pick for me is the CX-8 Sport AWD. It is packed with safety features, comfortable and I have some difficulty in seeing the extra value of $15,000 jump in price to the Asaki, as feature laden as it is.


What is good?

  • Internal space and practicality
  • Style, comfort and features
  • Value for money (Sport AWD)

 What is not so good?

  • Open road ride and handling
  • More weight means less performance
  • Tiptronic counter intuitive

Model    Mazda CX-8

  • Model Price       $42,490 FWD Sport, $46,490 Sport AWD and $61,490 Asaki AWD MLP.
  • Engine                 2.2 4Cyl SkyActive
  • Drivetrain           6 Sp AT AWD and FWD
  • Power                 140kW @ 4,500rpm
  • Torque                450Nm @ 2,000rpm
  • Safety                  TBA
  • CO2                     TBA
  • Economy ADR   6.0L/100 km
  • Servicing             Maintenance program
  • Tow Rating         2,000 kg
  • Tow Ball Rating 100 kg
  • Warranty           3 Yrs. / Unlimited km No Roadside Assist

Overall Rating: 77/100

  • Behind the Wheel           9
  • Comfort                                          8
  • Equipment                       8
  • Performance                    7
  • Ride & Handling              8
  • Practicality                        9
  • Fit for Purpose                9
  • Towing Ability                  6
  • Off Road Ability               5
  • Value for Money             8