Sharp new Mazda CX-5 cuts it in SUV sector
Mazda is looking to build on the success of its best-selling CX-5 sport utility vehicle with the new model now also targeting more premium models. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if it delivers on the promise.
The CX-5 is hugely important for Mazda. Launched in 2012, as sport utility vehicles really took off, it marked a new era for the Japanese car-maker and is now its best seller.
The first sixth-generation Mazda, the CX-5 introduced Kodo: Soul of Motion design language and Skyactiv engine technology and accounts for one in five Mazdas sold in the UK.
Now, with increased competition, Mazda rises to the new challenge with the second-generation CX-5 – more refined, upmarket and even better to drive.
The CX-5 is all new – only the engines have been carried over and the diesels have been tweaked to be quieter, smoother and more responsive.
Longer and lower, the smart evolutionary exterior is clearly CX-5 but I wasn’t alone in seeing a hint of Jaguar F-Pace in the back end and lights – no bad thing as Mazda sees the new CX-5 bridging the gap between mainstream and premium SUVs.
What blows you away is the new premium look and feel to the interior and fascia – an area where the previous model fell short despite being user-friendly – with quality materials, tasteful trim highlights and twin stitching adding to the upmarket ambience.
Under the bonnet
Diesel is the overwhelming choice for customers, pretty evenly split between private and fleet.
The 150PS 2.2-litre turbo diesel is the big seller, with front and all-wheel drive – the latter only in SE-L Nav, offering plenty of mid-range punch and noticeably quieter when worked hard yet still capable of returning 45 to 50mpg overall. The 175PS diesel is AWD range-topping Sport Nav only but also has the choice of manual or auto gearboxes.
The 165PS 2.0-litre petrol is smooth and quiet, just as well as it needs to be revved to avoid feeling flat.
How it drives
The CX-5 has always been on of the best-driving SUVs and it’s just got even better.
A stiffer body and tweaks to suspension, chassis and steering hone Mazda’s ‘Jinba-Ittai’ car and driver as one philosophy. New G-Vectoring Control momentarily reduces the amount of torque delivered to the front wheels when going into a corner, switching a little more weight to the back axle so increasing front tyre grip and giving more precise turn-in.
Sport Nav, with big 19in wheels, is the best drive, with good poise and precision on twisty roads, but the ride is firm and tyre noise evident.
SE-L Nav is more comfortable - with smaller 17in wheels – but, while still agile, there’s more body roll through corners.
That said, neither will disappoint keen drivers.
Space and comfort
The new CX-5 retains the same wheelbase so it’s no bigger inside, not an issue given the generous head and legroom allowing six-foot adults to stretch out, front and back. New seats are more supportive while rear seat backs now have a two-step reclining mechanism.
The well-shaped boot has grown very slightly to 506 litres – drop the practical 40/20/40 rear seat backs flat and it rises to 1,620 litres.
Underfloor storage has trebled to 30 litres and there’s more cabin stowage too.
At the wheel
Mazda interiors and fascias have always been more functional than fancy but, for me, the highlight of the CX-5 is the new-found quality, both feel and looks.
It’s easy to tailor the driving position, whether you are tall or short, while the all-new fascia makes it a very pleasant place to be with big, clear dials, a user-friendly central controller for most functions and excellent heating and ventilation switchgear.
The cabin and dashboard are now a match for premium German rivals.
SE-L Nav includes LED headlights, daytime running light and front fog lights, adaptive front lighting, auto power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, auto wipers and lights, cruise control, DAB radio, satellite-navigation and Bluetooth.
Sport Nav adds power lift tailgate and colour head-up display – both firsts for Mazda, reversing camera, black leather seats, power and heated front seats, traffic sign recognition, keyless entry and ignition and 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
With SUVs and crossovers getting ever more popular, if you’re in the market for one, you can’t afford to ignore the new Mazda CX-5 which is now good enough to worry premium models.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Mazda CX-5 2.2 2WD Sport Nav £28,695 (range £23,695 to £33,195)
Engine: 2,191cc, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel mated to six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.4 seconds; top speed 127mph
MPG: Urban 47.9; extra urban 61.4; combined 56.5
CO2 emissions: 132g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 28%
Insurance group: 20 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,555mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,840mm; H 1,675mm