Fitting the CX-7 with the excellent 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine in place of the potent but thirsty 2.3-litre turbo petrol engine with which it was saddled originally is Mazda’s belated but welcome attempt to level the car's SUV playing field.

In the CX-7 the motor makes 171bhp at 3500rpm and an impressive 295lb ft of torque at 2000rpm, and is linked to a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s also one of the least polluting diesel engines available in the UK, thanks to its Adblue injection system, which uses urea to break down the nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gases.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Mazda can do no wrong with its manual gearboxes - they're always a joy to use

It may not provide the same level of performance as the old 2.3-litre turbo petrol unit, but the diesel engine is a highly credible unit and far more appropriate for the CX-7. Although it sounds like it’s working hard under acceleration and the 0-62mph time (11.3sec) isn’t anything to write home about, there’s plenty of torque on tap which gives the CX-7 strong mid-range shove and easy motorway pace.

The six-speed manual ’box has short throws and the pleasant snickety action of most other Mazdas, although you can’t help but feel that the drivetrain might be even better (and undeniably smoother) with a good auto ’box.

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