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October 12, 2020

Review: 2020 Mazda CX-8 Signature 2WD

Mazda has been taking their approach to premium the same way the Germans have: plug very conceivable niche. It may not feel it, but the carmaker actually has five SUVs in its product range—that’s as many as Honda (three) and Subaru (two) combined. And though Toyota has seven, its price spread is rather large—P 3.967 million compared to Mazda’s P 1.65-million. With such a dizzying array of choices crammed into a small price bracket, where does the CX-8 fit into all this?

Admittedly, the CX-8 doesn’t really impress when it comes to its design brief. Compared to its SUV siblings, it comes across as unoriginal. From the house of KODO, it feels like it was designed on their day off, content on slapping on elements found in both the CX-5 and CX-9. From the B-pillar frontward, it passes for the compact CX-5 except for its unique horizontal grille insert. Meanwhile, from the B-pillar backward, it’s easily the full-size CX-9 from the elongated rear doors, long and flat roofline, and the chrome horizontal strip that cuts across the tailgate. However, when taken from the context of other mid-sized SUVs—be it the Fortuners or Everests of the world, it’s the slickest, best-looking one out there. Oh, and with 200 mm of ground clearance, it beats the Santa Fes and Sorentos as well.

The same goes for the CX-8’s interior which feels like it’s been lifted straight off the CX-5, and that’s not a bad thing, mind you. The air vents that jaunt out of the dashboard and the horizontal theme are all similar to Mazda’s compact SUV. That said, everything from the center console reward is clearly the CX-9—the seats, the butterfly-opening center console/armrest, the placement of the cup holders, and heck, even the oddly placed front power point (it’s by the front passenger footwell). The same thing goes for the choice of interior materials. While well-damped switchgear and soft-dash toppers are typical brand trademarks, it’s worth noting that Mazda opted to put stuff like real wood trim and Nappa leather in here as well.

Another thing the CX-8 inherited from the CX-9 is interior space. Using the CX-9’s platform (as opposed to stretching the CX-5’s), the wheelbase equals that of their full-sized SUV. It does share the CX-5’s width though. Mazda says their goal is to fit a person of any size in the front, while still being able to comfortably fit adults in both the second and third rows simultaneously. After sampling it, it’s job done. The third row’s headroom limits occupants there to about 175 cm (5 feet 8 inches), but at least the knees aren’t raised. Furthermore, the much-touted ergonomic seats—the one that promotes the spine’s natural S-shape—is found on all three rows. The second row seats don’t tumble; they merely fold and slide, allowing entry to the third row. Still, the rear doors swing an extra-wide 80 degrees making entry and exit fairly easy.

Competing against the more traditional pickup-based mid-sized SUVs, the CX-8 comes packed with luxury features shaming even the best of them—power adjustable front seats, triple-zone climate control with rear vents (sadly, those vents are only up to the second row), cruise control, rear side window blinds, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. It also has lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, a power tailgate, a 360-degree camera, and an electric parking brake with, get this, auto hold—a feature not found in the CX-9.

As you may have guessed by now, dynamically, the CX-8 is a mix between the CX-5 and the CX-9. The sole engine on offer differs from other mid-sized SUVs in that tractive effort is provided by a gasoline engine, specifically the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G also found in the Mazda6. Normally, its 190 horsepower and 252 Nm of torque outputs are considered good, but it’s something of a worry given this SUV weighs 1,761 kilograms. True enough, it’s adequate more than swift and a little bit strained under load at high revs. It’s noticeable that the 6-speed automatic is eager to kick down in search of torque. Still, it cuts the mustard, especially for those who’re keeping to the urban confines. And while it’s no road rocket, the century mark sprint is still done in 10.9 seconds, similar to a diesel-fed mid-sized SUV.

Now, if there’s one worrying thing about the CX-8, it’s the fuel economy. Despite having i-stop turned on during the entire week, and trying to be as gingerly with the throttle as possible, the trip computer registered an un-Mazda-like 7.2 km/L. This is better mileage than you’ll get in the turbocharged CX-9, but worse than in the all-wheel drive CX-5 with the same engine (this CX-8 Signature is front-wheel drive). With a P 10 per liter difference between gasoline and diesel, it means more frequent and more expensive trips to the pump. Still, for those in search of comfort and refinement, no other SUV in its price range comes close.

Through the bends, the CX-8 will never be mistaken for a sportscar; heck, it doesn’t even feel as light or agile as a CX-5. Yet, it delivers much more than what the average SUV needs to. In most situations, it masks its heft well with minimal body roll. It also manages to ride very well. It’s easily the most pliant mid-sized SUV, especially over big bumps and potholes. Equally impressive is its quiet cabin. Measures have been made to quell outside noise and as a result, holding a conversation at highway speed between those in the front and last rows is actually possible.

Sized between the smaller two-row CX-5, and the bigger three-row CX-9, the CX-8 turns out to be the Goldilocks of the Mazda SUV line-up. It gives up a bit of the CX-5’s agility and the CX-9’s space, but on Philippine roads, this comes across as the best balanced. With three rows of proper seats, a long list of standard features, a focus on comfort and refinement, a starting price comparable to pickup-based SUVs (P 2.190 million net of the P 100,000 discount offer), and five years of free service, the secret is finally out: this is the best family-oriented SUV in the market.

2020 Mazda CX-8 Signature 2WD

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Ownership 2020 Mazda CX-8 Signature 2WD
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 190 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 252 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.52 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,900
Width (mm) 1,840
Height (mm) 1,730
Wheelbase (mm) 2,930
Curb Weight (kg) 1,761
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Toyo Proxes R46A 225/55 R 19 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear, w/ 360 Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Hold Assist
Lane Keep Assist
Blindspot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 10-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 6-way
Seating Surface Nappa Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (Sliding),
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Tri-Zone w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 12
Steering Controls Yes


  1. 7.52 km/L is great for a 7-seater midsize SUV w/ an NA gas engine. Our Civic RS manages 7-7.5km/L in Metro Manila traffic for comparison, and that's just a puny 1.5T engine! The gasoline 2.7L Fortuner can barely reach 6 km/L, while the smaller, gasoline CR-V gets around 7 km/L.


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