Motoring and Property Editor
5:00 PM 3rd August 2021
Mazda’s Latest CX-5 Under The Spotlight
The current Mazda range is one of my favourites. Each model impresses and aims to compete with the best in class.
The MX-5 has long been the default choice for anyone looking for open-top fun at an affordable price. I own an elderly example and not only has it been a huge amount of fun to drive, it has also proved to be faultlessly reliable.
Mazda3 and 6 models cater well for the family market and then there are the trio of SUV models, CX-3, CX-30 and the top CX-5. There is also Mazda’s first fully electric car, the stylish MX-30, which I reviewed earlier this year.
The CX-5 is the oldest model in the range and its arrival back in 2012 heralded the start of Mazda’s innovative SKYACTIV technologies, centring on three areas – sophisticated lightweight chassis technology, advanced engines and highly efficient six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.
The CX-5 remains an important car for Mazda, accounting for around 25 per cent of UK sales.
The second generation was launched around three years ago and externally not much was altered. The keener eye was able to spot a sharper front-end design, sleeker sides, and a lower roof line.
The focus was instead to improve the quality of the interior, as befitting a car with premium aspirations.
The improvements continue and this year saw further updates made with a larger and clearer 10.25-inch display screen and more connected services.
Also introduced to the CX-5 was Mazda’s new 2.5-litre petrol engine, with advanced cylinder deactivation, allowing two cylinders to seamlessly shut down in gentle driving conditions.
One such vehicle has just enjoyed a spell in Yorkshire, with yours truly behind the wheel, keen to find out if the CX-5 still cuts the mustard.
With automatic gears, all-wheel drive and GT Sport trim and priced at £37,185, this is the most money you can currently spend on a Mazda car.
The interior certainly impresses with the quality of materials, the Nappa leather seats in particular a standout feature. I rather liked their brown hue too.
The cabin is pleasantly hushed, even at motorway speeds with very little wind or road noise making their presence felt.
Although the touchscreen is now bigger, it can also be controlled by a rotary knob between the seats. The graphics are somewhat dated which is a shame.
Radar cruise control is now fitted which was appreciated on a couple of long hauls. It really does take the stress out of motorway driving.
Mazda has always eschewed the turbocharging route, preferring instead to use larger capacity engines to improve performance. The result is a car that doesn’t feel as eager as some of its main rivals, needing more revs to do its best work.
The six-speed automatic gearbox is a smooth operator, but unless ‘sport’ mode is engaged, the box seems to be geared more towards economy than performance.
Mazda quotes 35.3mpg for the combined cycle. I recorded around 32mpg during my test week, a reasonable result. My last CX-5 test car was diesel powered and looking back at my notes, it recorded over 10mpg more.
The CX-5’s ride comfort is a mixed bag. At town speeds, it feels overly stiff, with deeper ruts making their presence felt in the passenger compartment more than is ideal. Once free from urban confines, it feels more complaint.
I am not sure anyone buys a Mazda SUV to be thrilled on their favourite section of twisty B-road, that’s the MX-5’s job. Let me just say that safe and surefooted best sum up the CX-5’s performance, with grip aplenty from the all-wheel drive system.
So, how best to sum up the CX-5? I am afraid to say it does feel as though it has been left behind by the competition in some areas. The performance is at best adequate for a range-topping model, the ride a mixed bag and as yet there is no hybrid version, so needed these days by the company car user who is taxed on vehicle emissions.
The quality of the interior impresses, the refinement is excellent, but I am not sure that is now enough to merit a hearty recommendation.
I would certainly lower the spend and look at a 2WD 165PS SE-L model at more reasonable £27,545.
Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD GT Sport Nav Auto
Snowflake white pearlescent paint – add £580
Brown Nappa leather interior
194PS 2.5-litre petrol engine
Six-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 9.2 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Combined economy 35.3mph
Emissions 182g/km CO2
BIK Tax 37%
Towing capacity 2,000kg (braked)