Burger and fries?

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By Nick Jones

In America, where petrol has just nudged over the $1 (65p) a gallon mark it’s insignificant whether or not your car has a 2-litre or 7-litre engine under the hood (bonnet).

Indeed, diesel and America isn’t the burger and fries it ought to be, but nowadays it’s getting there.

Making a car just for the land of (gas) petrol is all well and good then, but in the UK we need a diesel version and having started without one Mazda has dropped in a 2.2-litre unit that will definitely satisfy the masses.

Here in Britain Mazda has had the CX-7 now for four years but it was available only as a petrol 2.3-litre turbo which was mightily fast, but on tax and fuel alone the bills stacked right up and often proved unworthy.

Now, however, that has changed with the introduction of a 2.2-litre common-rail engine with 170 brake horsepower and a maximum speed of over 120 miles per hour.

It’s a quiet, frugal engine that really hits the sweet spot around 2,000 revs as the turbo kicks in and delivers its 400Nm of torque – great for overtaking.

The 0-60mph time is commendable at 11.3 seconds, but where this engine really scores is the low tax banding and the environmental issues. The emissions are under the 200g/km figure which brings its own advantage for company car users.

Plus, it can achieve nearly 38mpg. So, I hear you ask. So this Mazda has four-wheel drive making it a good combination.

It doesn’t, however, look like a cumbersome 4x4, nor indeed like the vastly improved off-roaders we see today. It looks more car-like than I’ve ever seen before and that’s a good thing.

I’m sure if it were to tackle the snow and muddy stuff then it wouldn’t be like a Land Rover, but with Mazda’s Active Torque-Split system it would suffice.

In a nutshell, this system enhances grip and ability in slippery conditions by sending torque to the wheels needing it most.

The comfy ride is significant and I can put that down to the tried and trusted fully-independent suspension system.

Mazda has always loaded its cars with lots of standard goodies and the CX-7 is no exception.

My test car was the Sport Tech version which offers large, smart alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a rear spoiler and a lowered front spoiler; I’m guessing now that’s why it has ‘limited’ off-road ability due to the fact it has a lower ride height.

On the inside it’s a mixture of bumps and swirls but my test car had air conditioning, leather seats, electric front and rear windows, brilliant sound system with six-CD interchanger, plus a neat and integrated navigation system.

Interior design is good, it’s nice and comfortable, with good leg, arm and headroom all round.