Review: Mazda CX-8 2.5 Turbo High Plus AWD - For high-speed 'Balik Kampung' trips
An ideal vehicle for a family of seven, with a lot of power
Launched last June, this is the newest variant in the Mazda CX-8 range. Assembled locally at the Inokom plant located at Kulim Kedah, the main highlight of this variant is the addition of the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine that delivers 228 hp and 420 Nm torque with a maximum speed of 200 km/h, which is quite a massive number for a vehicle in its class.
Sitting below the range-topping 2.2L Diesel 2WD High Plus variant, the CX-8 2.5 T High Plus here is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and comes with AWD as well.
Impressed by the specifications sheet, we couldn't help it but feel curious about how it would feel as the 228 hp and 420 Nm mentioned are numbers that are usually found in performance-oriented hatchbacks.
After a few months, the opportunity to put the CX-8 2.5 Turbo to the test finally came a couple of weeks ago and here is how it went.
Design wise, what we love the most about the CX-8 2.5 T is that the striking radiator grille announces to the whole world that you bought the high-end variant, which also comes with adaptive LED headlights. This variant also receives larger 19-inch alloy wheels which add to the whole appearance.
Moving into the cabin, the CX-8 feels very 'premium' and more refined than most Japanese SUVs in the segment.
Since this variant comes with a 2-2-2 seating configuration which includes two individual seats in the second and third rows, the feeling was as if we were VIPs in a luxury SUV or MPV as the second-row occupants have their own private space.
As this is the six-seater 'Super Luxury' trim, there is a second row centre console which offers generous amount of storage space as opposed to the regular 'peasant' middle-seat that is folded to be a "table" which we're used to seeing.
Adding to the luxurious seating arrangement and refinement are the many newly added features that are standard across the board, such as the additional USB ports for the 3rd row passengers, a 7-inch Instrument Cluster meter, a six-way power seat for front passenger, the hands-free Power tailgate, and also the auto-folding mirrors.
The multitude of controls also makes the CX-8 feel like an aircraft cockpit, and drivers may require a bit of time to familiarise where everything is. Still, having physical buttons is much better than having everything jam packed onto a screen.
Speaking of screens, we felt that the displays in the CX-8 seems slightly outdated, but they are very user-friendly and still function flawlessly.
Other than that, the CX-8's cabin was a very enjoyable place to be in, making it perfect for family-commuting.
The Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre engine residing in the CX-8 which churns out a respectable 228hp and 420 Nm of torque is actually as smooth as butter throughout the journey. What we loved about it was that power is delivered in a very progressive manner that it doesn't pounce and scare you when you put the pedal to the metal.
Complemented by the AWD system, handling and grip were top-notch, and there was little to no body-roll while cornering. This made the CX-8 2.5T such an enjoyable vehicle to drive even along twisty bits.
The CX-8 also has a surprisingly pleasant exhaust note which never failed to put a smile on our faces every time we accelerated. Speaking of acceleration, hitting the limited top speed of 200 km/h was actually not difficult, which meant that we had to be gentle with the throttle at all times.
Thanks to the suspension that is tuned to offer high level of comfort, we rarely felt tired after driving the CX-8 even for hours. Despite being comfortable, handling was not compromised at all as the SUV handles corners respectably.
Adding to the whole experience is the long list of safety and driver assistance features which worked like a charm to make sure that we were always aware of what's happening around the vehicle.
Out of all the features, our favourites were the Adaptive cruise control which was quite easy to operate and the Lane Keep Assist system which always ensured that we stayed within the lane.
As nice as it was to drive the CX-8 2.5 Turbo, the rear seats are actually the highlight, especially the second row as you'll be pampered with the comfortable and supportive seats, your own storage compartment and charging ports.
Combine that with fantastic legroom and ample amounts of headroom, and you get a winning package for long road trips with your family.
Priced at RM212,225, the CX-8 2.5 Turbo High is not a cheap vehicle, but is it overpriced? We don't think so. Not only is it one of the most powerful Japanese SUVs in the market, but it also comes with mighty impressive level of refinement, safety, comfort, performance, and space.
There is also a 5-Years Manufacturer Warranty + 5-Years Free Maintenance (except Mazda BT-50) according to manufacturer’s standards inclusive of labour, parts and lubricants which gives owners great peace of mind.