2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP FWD review - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP FWD review


It might now sit out of Mazda’s showroom spotlights, but there is still merit in buying the brand’s forgotten seven-seat SUV as it enters its runout phase.

2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP FWD

Mazdas have a great reputation in Australia for being affordable, reliable, spacious, and stylish. But the car maker’s latest push upmarket with its range of Large Architecture SUVs has moved the brand away from being one of the strongest mainstream players in the market to an unproven premium one.

The premium push has also been at the expense of traditional Mazda nameplates such as the CX-8 – the model now only has limited runout stock available. The call to discontinue the seven-seat model came in October 2023, so its time inside Mazda showrooms is limited.

As an alternative, pricing for the five-seat medium-sized CX-60 kicks off from around $60,000, and the massive CX-90 SUV tops out beyond $100,000 for the flagship specification. It feels as though the brand is leaving behind its traditional space in the market to find new types of well-heeled buyers – you need only look at the exquisite cabin detail of these new models to appreciate as much.

One model that has been pushed out of showrooms as Mazda prepares to launch even more premium SUVs is the CX-8 seven-seat SUV. It blends aspects of the renowned CX-5 with the popular seven-seat layout of its larger CX-9 alternative.

It’s not flashy and new like other models in the brand’s line-up, but has Mazda turned its back on the CX-8 too soon? It’s now in run-out as the brand attempts to rid its remaining stock ahead of the CX-80’s debut, but there could still be merit to buying a CX-8 – especially at a discount.

I’ve spent time in the well-specified Mazda CX-8 GT SP front-wheel drive and here are my thoughts.

How much is a Mazda CX-8?

The Mazda CX-8 line-up is extensive. You can have all-wheel drive paired with a diesel engine (originally the point of difference for the CX-8) or a front-wheel-drive layout with a petrol motor.

Even with one of those drivetrains, there are six derivative trim levels that buyers can choose from. Pricing starts from $42,810 before on-road costs and extends to $72,160 plus ORCs for the top-grade version.

The car concerning this review is the middling GT SP variant that costs $59,310 before ORCs. It’s powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine that sends 140kW/252Nm to a six-speed automatic transmission and the front wheels.

But spend $7000 extra and the brand will slip a 2.2-litre diesel engine (as well as all-wheel drive) under the CX-8’s skin.

It slots into the large-sized SUV segment to compete with alternatives such as the Kia Sorento Sport+ FWD ($58,230), Skoda Kodiaq Sportline AWD ($61,490), and Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer AWD ($55,190).

Despite the model getting on in age, it still comes stocked with some appealing features and equipment. Buyers can look forward to black or burgundy leather upholstery, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, power-adjustable front seats, adaptive LED headlights, gloss black grille accents, 19-inch black alloy wheels, a sunroof, wireless phone charging, and a power-opening boot.

This comes in addition to bits and pieces such as the 10.25-inch infotainment, tri-zone climate control, tyre pressure monitoring, and keyless entry that you get on more affordable CX-8 variants.

There are relatively few additional options available on Mazda products – they come fairly well equipped as standard.

Key details 2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
Price $59,310 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Deep Crystal Blue Mica
Options None
Price as tested $59,310 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $64,697 (Melbourne)
Rivals Mitsubishi Outlander | Kia Sportage | Volkswagen Tiguan

How big is a Mazda CX-8?

I’m a big fan of this test car’s dark blue exterior paint and how well it pairs with the burgundy leather upholstery inside the cabin. The burgundy leather seats are on the firmer side, but the supportive bolstering keeps drivers and passengers put.

It’s far from the newest car in its segment, but the dashboard design has kept pace with its rivals and it feels like a premium space. The CX-8 only gets a small sunroof over the front seats that doesn’t allow in too much light, and while it looks smart, the black headlining doesn’t help the darkened cabin.

There is seat heating, as an added convenience, which is quick to warm up on a winter’s morning, plus an easy-to-operate tri-zone climate-control system found just above the centre console.

Storage-wise, there’s a small, lidded centre console bin between driver and passenger, plus two large cupholders that I tended to stow my phone, wallet and keys inside. A small stowage tray is found in front of the shifter with a wireless phone charger, while other options include the door pockets and glovebox.

The second-row space accommodates tall passengers like my 194cm height, and it’s handy that the seat base slides (manually) forward and back as needed. Plus, the backrest reclines. There are map pockets, air-con controls, sun shades, a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, and two USB ports. There’s also outboard seat heating.

Access to the third row is made simple thanks to a one-touch button that folds the second row away, or there’s a latch which is slightly quicker. Room in the third row isn’t horrible for adults, but I imagine it’d be quite commodious for a couple of kids.

The only caveat with the CX-8’s back-seat space is that it’s tight width-wise when fully laden with passengers.

Boot space stands at 209 litres behind the third row and up to 775L behind the second row. Handily, there is underfloor storage that makes for a neat hiding place for valuables, though the high load lip doesn’t make hauling heavy items in easy.

2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
Seats Seven
Boot volume 209L seats up
775L seats folded
Length 4925mm
Width 1845mm
Height 1725mm
Wheelbase 2930mm

Does the Mazda CX-8 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

The latest version of the Mazda Connect infotainment system does service in the CX-8 GT SP, and it’s a slick unit to use and navigate through. Instead of a touchscreen that almost all rivals use, Mazda persists with a rotary controller to cycle through menu systems and between functions.

It’s simple to use when cycling through Mazda’s own infotainment, but it’s a downright pain when using wireless Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto).

The main infotainment display measures 10.25 inches and the smaller digital instrument cluster is 7.0 inches. This trails rivals such as the Kia Sorento which has a 12.3-inch main screen.

Other functions of the software include embedded satellite navigation, AM, FM and digital radio, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. I had issues with the Bluetooth phone connection throughout my time with the car – all of a sudden the connection dropped and I was unable to pair my phone for the remainder of the week. It wasn’t ideal, though at least I could use tethered Apple CarPlay.

There is no provision for app-based phone connectivity for controlling things like remote climate control, heated seats, and remote locking yet. However, Mazda is beginning to introduce this technology on the 2024 MX-5 soon. More models will follow in due course.

There’s a small display housed within the instrument cluster that shows graphics for car-following, rev-counting, and fuel data. Many competitors will use a fully-digital layout if that’s something you’re looking for in a family SUV, but the Mazda unit presents nicely and contains enough information.

Is the Mazda CX-8 a safe car?

The Mazda CX-8 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating that was awarded in 2018. This will expire at the end of 2024.

Rivals such as the Kia Sportage also earned five stars with ANCAP – as do most other medium SUVs.

Calling out the specifics, the CX-8 earned a 96 per cent score for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 72 per cent score for vulnerable road user protection, and 73 per cent score for safety assistance systems.

2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
ANCAP rating Five stars (tested 2018)
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

What safety technology does the Mazda CX-8 have?

The Mazda CX-8 comes with a suite of active safety measures summarised below.

I loved the Mazda’s adaptive cruise-control system that kept appropriate distances to the car ahead, though the lane-centring isn’t the most sensitive to road markings. There were times when the car bounced within its lane, and it didn’t always keep steady.

There are annoying beeps for blind-spot monitoring that caught my ire during highway driving, though it can be turned off in the settings.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Yes Includes pedestrian detection, night-time awareness
Adaptive Cruise Control Yes Includes traffic jam assist
Blind Spot Alert Yes Alert function only
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert Yes Alert and assist functions
Lane Assistance Yes Lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, lane-centring assist
Road Sign Recognition Yes Speed limit alert
Driver Attention Warning Yes Can toggle on/off inside infotainment
Cameras & Sensors Yes Front and rear sensors, reverse camera

How much does the Mazda CX-8 cost to run?

Included with all new Mazda models is a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty that is accompanied by a five-year roadside assistance program. This is basically par for the segment – many manufacturers are doing better, but several rivals offer the same coverage.

Services are scheduled to take place every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever occurs first). Cumulatively, the first three visits will cost $1325, while five will run out to $2235. As a comparison, servicing for the Mitsubishi Outlander petrol costs $947 over three years through Mitsubishi’s network, while five years costs $1495.

The Mazda CX-8 GT SP FWD costs $1635 to insure per year based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

This compares with a $1358 quote for a Skoda Kodiaq Sportline or $1779 for a Peugeot 5008.

At a glance 2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1325 (3 years)
$2235 (5 years)

Is the Mazda CX-8 fuel-efficient?

Thankfully, the Mazda CX-8 only needs to be refuelled with 91-octane regular unleaded petrol – some other medium SUVs, particularly from European manufacturers, require their vehicles to be refuelled with more expensive 95-octane premium unleaded.

Mazda claims the CX-8 GT SP sips 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres over mixed driving conditions. In my experiences with the car that claim is fair – I saw 8.2L/100km. However, my driving leant towards highway use.

Toyota’s Kluger seven-seat SUV last recorded 10.0L/100km on test with us in 2023. The last time we reviewed a Skoda Kodiaq Sportline it was rated at 9.7L/100km.

Fuel efficiency 2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.1L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 8.2L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane unleaded
Fuel tank size 72L

What is the Mazda CX-8 like to drive?

The reoccurring thought I kept having while driving the Mazda CX-8 GT SP is that although it’s getting on in age, it drives extremely nicely. I wish Mazda’s newer Large Architecture SUVs were this plush.

Comfort levels inside the cabin are high, and the suspension disperses imperfections big or small. Ruts in the road are ironed out without fuss, you can hit speedhumps at a decent clip and not upset the car, and even potholes don’t deter the CX-8’s progress on-road.

Unfortunately, this motor isn’t turbocharged like the old CX-9’s and only makes do with 140kW/252Nm sent to the front wheels. However, the Mazda’s feels punchy enough down low in the rev range, so it’s unlikely you’ll be left stranded when pulling up to a speed limit after a corner.

The transmission is responsive to kick-down throttle inputs and serves up the right ratio when needed. It’s just a lack of top-end power that can frustrate when touring away from town on highways. Overtakes need that little bit more thought before they’re safely performed, and the CX-8 needs more of a ‘run-up’ than alternatives such as the bigger Kia Sorento and its 3.5-litre V6.

Buyers might worry about the petrol CX-8 being front-wheel drive only, but I didn’t need the extra traction throughout my week with the car. In all likelihood this car will spend its time ferrying family, not conquering off-road trails, so the front-wheel drive is more than adequate for this kind of car.

Steering efforts are smooth and true, offering decent feedback about front-wheel traction underneath. The CX-8’s body is easy to place within lanes and even manoeuvring into parking spots isn’t arduous.

The only struggle I had with the CX-8’s outward vision was the annoyingly magnified driver’s side mirror. This is a consistent Mazda problem endemic throughout the Mazda range and it makes for tricky right-hand merging. I wish they’d simply utilise normal mirrors.

Key details 2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP
Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 140kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 252Nm @ 4000rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 76.6kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1827kg
Spare tyre type Temporary spare
Payload 554kg
Tow rating 1800kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.6m

Can a Mazda CX-8 tow?

Petrol Mazda CX-8s are rated to tow up to 750kg unbraked or 1800kg with a braked trailer. Our test car didn’t have towing hardware installed, but it felt as though the car could tow quite sturdily. However, if there were one scenario where the Mazda’s lack of torque might become a problem, it’s likely towing uphill.

The CX-8 has a maximum payload of 554kg, accommodating for up to seven passengers weighing 79kg each.

Should I buy a Mazda CX-8?

While a lot of the attention is levelled at the new Large Architecture SUVs, the CX-8 is a familiar nameplate to Australians and the model continues to offer a roomy interior, smooth and comfortable driving refinement, and is nicely equipped for the money. It’s also much cheaper than Mazda’s newer seven-seat range.

It misses out on some niceties you’d expect in similar alternatives – such as a touch-enabled screen and a fully-digital instrument cluster – but the overarching package is well appointed and feels premium.

The CX-8 continues to exude the right experience we look for in a seven-seat SUV – but it’s worth checking out its rivals too, such as the Kia Sorento Sport+, to decide whether that alternative better suits your needs. 

But bargain hard on a CX-8 purchase, as the brand attempts to rid its dealer lots of existing stock, and you’ll be rewarded with a good seven-seat SUV for years to come.

How do I buy a Mazda CX-8? The next steps.

This review focused on the Mazda CX-8 GT SP variant with a petrol motor. At Drive we recommend the GT SP variant as the healthy balance between price and features – so it’s the model grade to go after when shopping for a Mazda CX-8.

I asked Mazda about the remainder of its stock and learned the brand has two months’ worth of supply sitting in dealerships around the country. This stock is largely made up of Touring petrol FWD, Sport petrol FWD and GT SP petrol FWD variants.

The next step on the purchase journey is to check the Mazda website for stock of your preferred CX-8 variant. You can also find Mazdas for sale at Drive Cars For Sale.

We strongly recommend taking a test drive at a dealership before committing because personal needs and tastes can differ. Find your nearest Mazda dealer via this link. We’d also recommend test-driving the Toyota Kluger because it is popular with consumers and is a good benchmark.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

The post 2024 Mazda CX-8 G25 GT SP FWD review appeared first on Drive.


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