Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv-D 2.2 150
Attractive new 'Kodo' styling is fluid and muscular
- Fluid and aggressive looks are very attractive
- Excellent driving dynamics for the class
- Comfortable seats for front and rear occupants
- Stylish interior is modern and welcoming
- Certain interior plastics could be of higher quality
- Relatively small model choice at launch
- Automatic gearbox does not suit the diesels
- Tyre roar more obvious to rear seat passengers
Mazda's CX-5 is the first vehicle to combine all its SkyActiv technologies in one package. It was chosen for two reasons: firstly the CX-5 is an entirely new model and represents a new start for Mazda, and secondly the compact SUV segment into which the CX-5 is entering is one of the fastest growing in the market.
To succeed in such a competitive market sector after other brands have gained a large head start, the CX-5 needs to be class-leading in the key areas of efficiency, quality, driving enjoyment and ownership cost. With a petrol engine alongside standard and high-power diesels, the standard-power diesel achieves a very tax-friendly CO2 rating, with equally impressive fuel consumption figures.
Unlike some engines, which sacrifice performance in the name of efficiency, the CX-5's units don't. Mazda is passionate about driving enjoyment and even the lower-powered of the two diesels has 148bhp. The result is a ground-breaking combination of power and efficiency. The diesels use two turbochargers, one smaller and one larger, to reduce turbo lag and give efficient running on a light throttle. The engine mapping has also been developed to make it easier to achieve high fuel economy.
New steering systems mean that the CX-5 feels more natural and involving to drive than some other cars of its type, in an attempt to maintain the Mazda ethos that a car should always be more than just a tool. In particular the six-speed manual gearbox, which uses ideas taken from the MX-5 sports car, is slick and positive, giving the CX-5 credible driving enjoyment. Its overall weight is low, which helps a lot.
Inside the passenger area the seats are comfortable, the leather on high-end models is soft and luxurious, and the instrument panels are stylish and well laid out. A few examples of plastics and finishes indicate slight cost-cutting in less important areas, but on the whole the interior is a very modern and appealing environment. Some road noise enters through the rear wheel arches but from the front seats the CX-5 is a quiet cruiser.
Our verdict on the Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv-D 2.2 150
Advanced engine, chassis and materials technologies have endowed the CX-5 with all the qualities it needs to succeed in the class. Its ability to combine performance, driving satisfaction and low purchase and ownership costs make it as appealing, if not more so, than the other cars in the sector.
High potential fuel economy and low road tax bills put the CX-5 among the cheapest cars in the class to run, whether as a private purchase or a company car. The low CO2 ratings make it a particularly attractive choice as a company vehicle, attracting a smaller BIK cost than many of its rivals.
Space and practicality
While three adults will fit across the rear bench seat, the CX-5 is only a compact SUV and things are likely to get cramped over longer distances. It would be perfect for two adults or up to three children. The boot floor is relatively high but offers a good surface area to spread luggage out on. There is space beneath the boot floor as well, because there is no spare wheel.
Controls and display
A simple three-dial instrument cluster layout is simple but effective, with a digital screen on the right hand side than can display a variety of trip computer information. On models with satellite navigation, the main functions are controlled by a dial on the lower centre console behind the gearstick. It's very intuitive and easy to use, even on the move. The remainder of the controls are a mixture of stylishly simple and utilitarian.
The seats are comfortable front and back, and a well-controlled ride minimises jostling and jolting from the road. Some larger bumps are transferred into the cabin more forcefully as the dampers reach their limits, but the CX-5 generally manages to create a very composed and comfortable environment.
A typical set of security features is present in the CX-5, as well as other systems less well publicised. It has an alarm with internal sensors, an immobiliser and remote central locking. Mazda has an excellent reputation for building secure cars, and the CX-5 will follow on in the same trend.
The completely new body shell has been designed with the very latest in crash safety in mind. Each section of the body works together to disperse crash energy and to protect the people inside. A comprehensive list of active safety equipment is available on the CX-5, but some of it is optional at extra cost, but as standard the model is among the safest in its class.
This has always been a key aim for Mazda, and it is most evident in the CX-5. It's genuinely enjoyable to drive with a lightweight body, strong diesel engines and a very engaging manual gearbox. While its steering system is good and feels natural through corners, there is some body roll. In more relaxed driving it's a quiet cruiser and will return good fuel economy at a 60-70mph cruise.
Family car appeal
The CX-5 is an example of a near-ideal family car, combining the convenience and all-round ability of a hatchback with the commanding seating position and extra visibility of a 4x4. It should also be cheap to run, making it good for ever-tightening monthly family budgets. There are child seat mounting points as standard in the CX-5, should parents need them.
First car appeal
The CX-5 has many skills and attributes, but few of them fit with the needs of a typical first-time car buyer. It's too expensive, too family-focused and too big to make a very sensible or appealing first car. Mazda has other models that better cater for first-time buyers and most young or inexperienced drivers would look at those instead.
Quality and image
Mazda has been making very reliable cars for many years, and the CX-5 carries the expectation that it will be a very sound choice for people who crave dependability. Its striking looks, part of Mazda's 'Kodo - Soul of Motion' design theme, help to maintain the image of brand sportiness that older models like the MX-5 and RX-8 have created.
A combination of relatively short doors, a tall roof line and a high seating position makes the CX-5 very easy and comfortable to get in and out of, whether in the front or the back. The boot has a high load floor that can make it more difficult to lift luggage in and out of, but there is plenty of space available for family holiday duties.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The standard stereo is adequate for most people, and can play music via a USB input socket. High-grade models have a satellite navigation system including a screen mounted in the centre console that also acts as a media interface. It's clear and easy to use, and the navigation program issues straightforward instructions.
Colours and trim
A fairly typical selection of colours is available for the CX-5, and few buyers are likely to be disappointed. Mazda's paint finish is notably high quality and, if looked after, it will stay looking fresh for years. The interior trim is partly soft-touch and looks up-to-date and stylish. Some small plastic areas are less appealing.
The CX-5 has speed-sensitive power steering that lightens considerably at low speed, making it easy to turn the wheel lock-to-lock and complete tight manoeuvres. A high seating position gives an excellent view all around, making it easier to judge where obstacles are. It's not a narrow car but relatively short doors make it easier to get in and out in tight spaces.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (163bhp). Diesel options - 2.2-litre (148bhp and 173bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic.
Nissan Qashqai Popular crossover model is still highly desirable
Skoda Yeti Compact SUV boasts lots of character
Ford Kuga Good to drive, great looks and affordable
Volkswagen Tiguan Excellent build quality and commanding driving position