From £27,0807

Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

Looking at the CX-7’s size and name, you would be forgiven for thinking you’d find a third row of seating lurking in the boot. You won’t. So with just five seats to fit into a bodyshell that’s 4675mm long and with an accommodating 2750mm wheelbase, the CX-7 should offer reasonable cabin space, and it does.

There’s room for adults both up front and in the back; our only space-related criticism being that if the driver has his chair set to its lowest position there is little foot space for rear passengers. 

Its hard to fault the quality and construction of the cabin

Surprisingly, boot space is less impressive; at 455 litres with the rear seats up, the CX-7 carries less than a Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V or Land Rover Freelander. However, Mazda’s ‘Karakuri’ 60/40 split rear seats are exceptionally neat: they can be folded flat by pulling a handle in the side of the loadbay.

The cabin’s design is refreshingly clean and equipment specification is excellent. As with other Mazda models, there’s a crispness to the dash layout, with tidy circular vents and heater controls. The quality of the materials, though, don’t always match that of Audi, Land Rover or Infiniti, but the finish is generally good.

Leather, electric seats, climate control and a superb nine-speaker Bose stereo are all standard. There’s also an impressive list of safety equipment. The only downside is that Mazda has squeezed a tiny 4in colour sat-nav screen into the dash-top display. This is hard to read and the screen graphics are crudely drawn.

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The cabin’s biggest success is the positioning of the major controls. Despite not adjusting for reach, the steering wheel is set far enough back for most and the gear lever is positioned appealingly close at hand. From this perspective, and with more than a little imagination, the driving position feels more WRC than SUV.