Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Mazda CX-8 2023 review: GT SP diesel

The Mazda CX-8 GT SP is another large SUV in Mazda's stable but what sets it apart from the CX-9? (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Mazda has a tendency to have a lot of similar looking horses in the stable; blink and you'll miss the (very) subtle differences between the CX-8 and the CX-9 but if you're not super keen on the bulk of the CX-9 and you've outgrown the space of the CX-5... this one's for you.

Especially, if you've been considering its competition - the Hyundai Santa Fe Elite CRDi AWD and Toyota Kluger GXL AWD. Both of which have become known for their features and space.

So, how does it compare? The CX-8 GT SP diesel all-wheel drive seats seven, has a decent boot space (albeit, when the third row isn't in use) and handles like a dream.

Perfect combination? Maybe. I've been driving it for the last week with my family to find out for you.

ShowHide all sections

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 

The GT SP diesel AWD is one of the premium models, sitting third from the top and will cost you $65,560, before on road costs.

However, its price tag positions it as the most expensive compared to its rivals. With the closest rival being the Kluger at $65,310 and the most affordable being the Santa Fe at $60,000.

10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan) 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

You do get a stylish-looking package with lots of features for your cash, like heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a tilt and slide sunroof, and premium leather interior trim.

There's some great tech scattered throughout, too, like the 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system, wireless charging pad, USB-A ports in the third row, Bose Premium sound system with 10 speakers, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

To be honest, I can't really tell the CX-8 and CX-9 apart on the road. They're both large SUVs that sport the classic Mazda bonnet - sharp and long. Up close, the CX-9 has a bulkier shape but otherwise they are remarkably similar.

The CX-8's darkened grille generates some interest with its lattice-work and there are enough shiny chrome accents scattered about the car that it looks pretty.

The CX-8's darkened grille generates some interest with its lattice-work. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The CX-8's darkened grille generates some interest with its lattice-work. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Yet, the sporty sharpness that Mazda is known for is still hinted at with its shaping and the 19-inch black alloy wheels.

Our model is finished in 'Platinum Quartz Metallic' and it is the highlight for the exterior styling for me. I think because it's such an interesting colour to look at - it varies a lot depending on lighting conditions. Sometimes, it almost has a sheen of pink to it and at others, it looks like pearly sand.

19-inch black alloy wheels. (Image: Glen Sullivan) 19-inch black alloy wheels. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The interior looks polished and refined with its burgundy leather trim and soft-touchpoints. Again, there is a lot of chrome inside to make otherwise dull features, like air vents, pop out.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The CX-8 is a very practical family hauler because there's ample room in all three rows. Yes, even adults will be able to squeeze into that third row without too many complaints!

All rows enjoy well-cushioned seats and up front they are electrically adjustable, but unfortunately, only the driver's side has lumbar support.

The middle row can slide forward manually or by using the electric button found on the side of the seats... but doing it yourself is way faster.

They do slide far enough forward that you won't embarrass yourself too much when you have to clamber into the third row. Where the seats have a 50/50 split-fold and manual adjustments (accessed via the boot).

  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior
  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior
  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior
  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Interior

In the first two rows there are lots of individual storage options but the front enjoys the most. The middle console is deep enough to be useful and I like the dual opening lid. Each row gets a couple of cupholders and drink bottle holders, too.

The charging options are great, with each row getting two USB-C ports and the front getting a wireless charging pad and 12-volt socket.

All of the controls and dials feel within easy reach and the 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system graphics are clear.

You can use it as a touchscreen or opt for the rotary dial but switching between the two was awkward for me. Especially, since the touchscreen function is disabled when you are using the wireless Apple CarPlay. This also has wired Android Auto, for those users. 

All of the controls and dials feel within easy reach and the 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system graphics are clear. (Image: Glen Sullivan) All of the controls and dials feel within easy reach and the 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system graphics are clear. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The amenities are practical throughout with a dark headliner, three-zone climate control and heated outboard seats and retractable sun-blinds in the middle row.

Good news for families because there are five top-tether points across the back rows and ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in middle row, in case you need them.

You can fit a 0-4 rearward facing child seat and it shouldn’t impact on front passenger comfort. 

My six-year old found it super easy to get in and out of this car because of the 205mm ground clearance and wide door apertures. He enjoyed the high seating position, too, but was disappointed he couldn’t see out of the sunroof!

The boot space is a bit cramped with all three rows are in use at 209L but folding the third row opens up a more respectable 775L - perfect for the average family and its stuff!

  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Boot 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Boot
  • 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Boot 2023 Mazda CX-8 GT SP I Boot

The loading space is level, with the temporary spare tyre and clever storage compartments housed underneath. There is a retractable cargo blind and net, luggage anchor points and a 12-volt port, too. 

And, as always, I love a powered tailgate, which this has!

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission? 

There are two engines available for this grade, a petrol version and our model’s 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

It has a maximum power output of 140kW and 450Nm of torque. The combination allows this to happily cruise on the open-road.

There are two engines available for this grade, a petrol version and our model’s 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There are two engines available for this grade, a petrol version and our model’s 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

This is an all-wheel drive and despite only having a six-speed auto transmission, it delivers a settled ride experience.

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

I was a bit worried that this big SUV would mean a dip in efficiency but I was pleasantly surprised. The official combined cycle fuel figure is 6.0L/100km and I achieved 7.1L/100km.

I did a lot of open road driving this week, so it may be higher in an urban setting, but that's fantastic for a family hauler!

The official combined cycle fuel figure is 6.0L/100km and I achieved 7.1L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The official combined cycle fuel figure is 6.0L/100km and I achieved 7.1L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Based on the combined figure, you should be able to get a driving range of 1233km, which is great for families which travel a lot.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

Like I said, the on-road performance feels settled and even when you push it hard, you feel confident because of how firmly placed this CX-8 is on the road.

The same can be said about how it utilises its power, you can get up to speed quickly or overtake smoothly.

Despite that it's 4925mm long, 1845mm wide and 1725mm tall- it's a fairly forgiving SUV to park. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Despite that it's 4925mm long, 1845mm wide and 1725mm tall- it's a fairly forgiving SUV to park. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

I traversed a mountain this week and it didn't feel as if I was handling a large SUV, and besides the suspension being a little firm, the ride comfort is good and the cabin is quiet.

Despite that it's 4925mm long, 1845mm wide and 1725mm tall- it's a fairly forgiving SUV to park! I missed having a 360-degree view camera, though, and think this should be a standard feature for a car of this size. Still, the reversing camera is clear and the 11.6m turning circle was okay in a tight car park.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Safety is always important on any car, but more so on a family one. I’m happy that this has the usual specs, like rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, driver attention warning, lane keeping/departure aids, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, plus rear child door locks.

It has autonomous emergency braking with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection and is operational from 4.0-80kmh (up to 160km/h for car detection).

With all the usual specs, including a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. (Image: Glen Sullivan) With all the usual specs, including a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The CX-8 was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating but it was done ages ago in 2018. Which means it's due to expire next year.

Surprisingly, it only has six airbags which is low for a family SUV but that does include curtain airbags covering all three rows.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The ongoing costs are reasonable with it coming with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and a five-year servicing plan.

Services average $488 per service, which is competitive for the class but the servicing intervals aren’t as great as it’s petrol siblings, being every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first.


The Wrap

So, what did my family think about the Mazda CX-8 GT SP diesel all-wheel drive? I love how it performs on the road - it's super easy to drive and you don't notice how large it is in a car park.

There are some great family-friendly features scattered throughout and I like how practical this is too with the extra seats and top-tether points. The multimedia system isn’t my favourite and I would have preferred to have seen a few extra airbags and a 360-degree view camera, but overall, it’s a good family car and gets an 8.0/10 from me. 

My son loved the sun blinds and the cool colour of the seats. He also gives it an 8.0/10.

Likes

Practical family features
Luxe factors throughout
Easy-as-pie to drive

Dislikes

Misses out on a 360-degree view camera system
Expensive compared to similarly specified rivals
Low number of airbags for family SUV

Scores

Emily:

4

The Kids:

4

$65,560

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.