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30 Nov 2022

Mazda CX-8 Super Luxury
Feels more upmarket
Offers more occupant space
More relaxed performance
Better ride quality
Skoda Kodiaq Laurin & Klement
Has a more advanced cockpit
More practical and versatile
Keener performance
Eye-catching design

The Mazda CX-8 offers convincing space and refinement for the chauffeur-driven, while the Skoda Kodiaq impresses with its versatility and sprightly performance.


Seven-seater SUVs have become the choice for drivers with large families. With their muscular presence and adventurous characters, buyers find them more appealing than MPVs.

One of the most well-known models in the market is the Skoda Kodiaq. Many buyers have found this Czech number very much to their liking, as it ticks numerous boxes. Following a recent facelift, it now offers more standard amenities than before.

Taking on the Kodiaq is Mazda's flagship SUV, the CX-8. Apart from being larger than its rival, the CX-8 also has a long list of standard features, plus a unique six-seater layout. Which of these contenders will prove more convincing to buyers?

Eye on design

The CX-8 (left) looks 'quieter' and sleeker than the more expressive Kodiaq
Walk up to both SUVs and you'll immediately be drawn to the Kodiaq and its more striking exterior design. The wider grille, slimmer head lights and more chiselled lines make it look more dynamic than the CX-8. It looks particularly good when viewed from the side.

But that doesn't mean the CX-8 is bland. On the contrary, Mazda has given it a more restrained, yet no less stylish presence. The white paintwork probably makes it look subdued, but the CX-8's simpler lines reflect a quiet elegance that's refreshing. Indeed, the CX-8's design is probably what enables it to play down its dimensions. It measures 4,900mm from tip-to-tip, compared to the Kodiaq's overall length of 4,697mm.

Design is subjective, and since I'm shy by nature, I prefer the quieter aesthetic of the CX-8 to the more extroverted appearance of the Kodiaq.

Opposing camps

The CX-8's cockpit (left) feels more upmarket and better-built, but the Kodiaq's is more advanced
If plushness and comfort are at the top of your list, then you'll feel right at home in the CX-8.

Get behind the wheel and first thing you'll notice is how gently your bum is cushioned by the soft Nappa leather that covers the seats. At the same time, there's still a decent amount of support for longer drives.

The surfaces in here are softer to the touch, and overall, the cabin feels even better built compared to the Kodiaq. The seat ventilation, for instance, is more powerful here than in the Skoda.

The CX-8 may only have a part-digital cluster, but it's supported by a head-up display that the Kodiaq does not have
The CX-8, however, holds less appeal for tech-lovers. Its instrument panel is still mostly analogue (and part digital), and while wireless Apple CarPlay is on hand, the infotainment screen is smaller and the graphics are dated. But it does come with a head-up display (HUD), which is absent in its rival.

Between the two, the CX-8 has a more optimal seating position, and the controls seem to fall more easily to hand. Mazda's penchant for catering to the driver still shows, even in a model nearly five metres long.

The CX-8's infotainment (left) looks more dated than the Kodiaq's, but it nevertheless offers the convenience of wireless Apple CarPlay
Now, despite not having a HUD, the Kodiaq still has the more advanced cockpit. The analogue dials in the pre-facelift model have been eschewed in favour of Virtual Cockpit, a digital instrument cluster with selectable layouts.

The infotainment is also more user-friendly, thanks to the intuitive layout and faster-loading menus. And the touchscreen can be operated on the go, unlike in the CX-8, where you must use the control dial when the car is moving.

The CX-8's ventilated seats (left) are even more powerful than the Kodiaq's, and can quickly cool superheated bums on hot days
Using the dial is more accurate than trying to tap a screen while the car is moving, but it's a safety precaution not every driver will appreciate.

The Kodiaq also has the edge in space and practicality here. While the CX-8 sort of cocoons the driver, the Kodiaq's lower centre console provides a bit more room. Storage points, especially the door bins, are also larger and hence more useful.

What drivers will also find useful are the handy umbrella slots by the doors, and plastic 'door guards' that pop out when the doors are open. These can help reduce the chance of dinging the car beside you.

Passenger accommodations

The CX-8's backseats (left) are the place to be, for apart from being plusher and roomier, they're electrically adjustable, too
The Mazda CX-8 takes the cake when it comes to second-row accommodations. Because it's a six-seater, there are only two seats in the second and third-rows, resulting in more space for the occupants.

The second-row feels particularly luxurious, for apart from the soft Nappa upholstery, the seats are ventilated as well. In addition, both are electrically adjustable, whereas the Kodiaq's rear seats are manual.

Owing to the CX-8's longer wheelbase (2,900mm vs 2,790mm), legroom is more generous here as well. But buyers might not like the fact that it does not have a panoramic sunroof like the Kodiaq - even if this results in more headroom for taller passengers.

Second-row passengers in the CX-8 (left) also get ventilated seats, while occupants in the Kodiaq 'only' enjoy a third climate zone
Although the Kodiaq has a shorter wheelbase, its interior is more useful. The second-row bench can accommodate an extra passenger, and though it takes more effort, it's quicker to manually fold the seats to enable access to the third row.

Naturally, the Kodiaq's third-row is best suited to kids or petite adults, for anyone taller than 1.6m will find this space to be a squeeze. Meanwhile, the third-row in the CX-8, with its longer wheelbase, is actually useable, with the taller backrests providing more comfort for occupants.

The CX-8's last-row (left) is actually able to accommodate adults, but the Kodiaq's third-row is really only good for kids
However, while the CX-8 excels at pampering passengers, it is less adept at carrying luggage. The boot offers 209 litres with all seats up, and 775 litres with the third-row folded. The second-row seats cannot be folded flat.

The Kodiaq, on the other hand, is more versatile. Boot volume is 270 litres with all seats in use, and expands to 630 litres once the third row is folded. Collapse the second-row seatbacks and the cargo capacity grows to a massive 2,005 litres, making it useful for hauling bulky items.

Drive or be driven

The CX-8's 2.5-litre thrives on revs, while the Kodiaq's 2.0-litre unit offers plenty of low-end grunt, helping it overcome its inertia
Whether it's transporting luggage or people or both, it's the Kodiaq that drivers will prefer. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine delivers 188bhp and 320Nm of torque, enabling the SUV to finish the century sprint in 7.7 seconds.

Helped by the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the Kodiaq feels as sprightly as the figures suggest. It's also relatively easy to handle when searching for a space in a multi-storey carpark, with the sharp 360-degree camera helping make parking less tricky.

CX-8's pliant and unruffled ride complements its upmarket interior, whereas the Kodiaq's nimbler handling gives it a sportier vibe
Although the CX-8 has a larger 2.5-litre powerplant with 192bhp, its naturally aspirated nature means there's only 258Nm of torque. At full tilt, it takes 10.7 seconds for the car to go from a standstill to 100km/h.

However, rather than being a weak point, the CX-8's more relaxed nature is actually its strength. Between the two, I prefer the CX-8's more pliant and cosseting ride. Besides, faced with so much congestion on a daily basis, a quicker car does not necessarily make for a quicker commute.

Indeed, the CX-8 makes me wish I was sitting in the second-row, where I could relax while getting a head start clearing my e-mails. I'd reach the office feeling less stressed.

Points to ponder

The CX-8 (left) is better to be chauffeured in, while the Kodiaq is ideal for families who need more practicality and versatility
There's no question that the CX-8 is the larger and more refined of the two SUVs. Its many strengths include quality finishing, an upmarket feel and more space for passengers. The ride quality is more agreeable, too.

But drive-wise, the CX-8 prefers a more relaxed pilot. Coupled with those excellent second-row seats, it's an ideal SUV for the chauffeur-driven. They will definitely enjoy reaching their destinations feeling (and looking) fresh.

However, since I'm no towkay and have no chauffeur to speak of, it's the Kodiaq that speaks to me.

Despite being smaller than the CX-8 and having a last-row that's only for small kids, the Kodiaq makes up for this with a more advanced cockpit, and a more practical and flexible cabin. Tying it all together is the livelier experience behind the wheel - something most self-driven family men and women will enjoy.


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Car Information
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Price

: $256,900

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1984cc

Horsepower

:

140kW (188 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

320 Nm / 4100 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.7sec

Top Speed

:

215km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.3km/L

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Promotion
There's a promotion for Mazda CX-8

Price

: POA

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC

Engine Cap

:

2488cc

Horsepower

:

143kW (192 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

258 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

10.7sec

Top Speed

:

196km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12.3km/L

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