We’ve already had a CX-5 – the 2WD petrol GSX, which we drove back in May – and we were impressed. The CX-5 is a vehicle that performs well on many levels – it’s aesthetically pleasing, fuel economy is good, interior features abound and, for an SUV, it handles well.
Now we’re in the top-of-the-line CX-5 AWD Diesel Limited. It’s a substantial $14,000 more than the GSX and for that you get a lot of extra features plus a more frugal (and torquey) diesel engine. You can read more about the GSX by clicking here (opens in a new tab).
Externally there are only two visible changes (apart from the AWD badge). The power sliding and tilt glass sunroof and the 19-inch wheels with 225/55R19 tyres as opposed to the 17-inch wheels of the standard car. These wheels make the CX-5 look even sharper and Mazda has managed to implement them without making the ride crashy and harsh.
There are two other external features that are all but hidden: bi-xenon auto leveling, adaptive front headlights will help you see more clearly at night as they swivel to help you see around the corners and will adjust based on whether another vehicle is approaching. The ultra-observant will notice a slight difference in the wing mirrors: a small icon illuminates orange to warn if a car is in your blind spot.
On the inside, this blind spot warning system (BSM – Blind Spot Monitor) beeps at you if you’re about to pull into a lane when another vehicle is there. This is useful feature, but it’s far too sensitive on the CX-5. It beeped at parked cars if I indicated to turn into a side road, at concrete motorway barriers as I exited (particularly in spaghetti junction where there is no hard shoulder) and occasionally for no apparent reason.
Along with the lane departure warning system the BSM provides for safer motorway cruising. The lane departure system activates at higher speeds and monitors the position of your car in relation to road markings using a windscreen camera. If you are about to drift out of your lane without indicating a low frequency burst of noise is played through the stereo.
Other features to aid visibility and maneouvring include the rear view camera and parking sensors front and rear. These are welcome because of the narrower visibility through the rear window.
The rear camera image is viewed on the 5.8-inch screen. This touch screen doubles as your entertainment and communication hub. There’s hands-free Bluetooth phone integration (wouldn’t connect to my Nokia N95, so you might need a newer phone), and iPod integration as well as the usual CD/radio/WMA options.
Mazda has been trumpeting its Skyactiv technology. This is a whole engine/gearbox/chassis/body revamp. There’s a low-friction six-speed automatic gearbox that’s lighter and smaller than its predecessors. The engine has been redesigned to produce more power while using less fuel and it has intelligent stop/start (automatically turning the engine off when you come to a stop). The chassis and body have been redesigned to be lighter but stronger, improving fuel economy. There is also a tyre pressure monitor that warns you if your tyres are starting to get flat – something which affects fuel economy and safety.
In the diesel the Skyactiv technology results in a much lower compression ratio than conventional common rail design engines, therefore components can be lighter and it can rev slightly higher (up to 5200rpm). The 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder engine liberates 129kW, but it’s the 420Nm of torque that gives it the bolt out of the gate. Drive it sensibly, though, and you might reach the quoted 5.7l/100km. I averaged 7l/100km but did drive it around town for most of the time.
Mazda has done an excellent job of making a typically poor handling SUV-style vehicle handle much more like a normal sedan. The CX-5 does sit tall, giving you good visibility, but the handling exudes quiet confidence. It is not a ‘driver’s car’, and it’s not designed to be. The CX-5 doesn’t create an ‘involving’ driving experience. Certainly, some journalists that hanker for the rawness of sports cars will decry this, but that’s not what the population wants. The popular wants a car that functions, has the right amount of room, is comfortable, well-appointed and doesn’t commandeer an unduly large percentage of cerebral power to drive.
It’s a car that gives you the kind of features that, on European equivalents, would cost tens of thousands more. Convenient features such as just being able to walk away from the car and it locks itself, opening the boot to find that the boot blind is connected to the tail gate and lifts cleverly out of the way,and being able to fold the rear seats to form a flat floor combine with premium features such as the Bose 231W, 9-speaker audio system and theTomTomsatellite navigation to create a car that seems like it should cost more. For the money it’s not quite perfect, but it’s not far off.
- Excellent all-rounder
- Useful safety features
- All-wheel drive
- It’s almost perfect, except…
- Blind spot warning system far too sensitive
|Style||5 door Crossover SUV|
|Tank capacity (Litres)||58 litres|
|Fuel consumption – combined||5.7 litres per 100km|
|Emissions standard||Euro IV 149g/km|
|Engine type||2.2 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC SKYACTIV-D intercooled turbo diesel engine with i-stop|
|Maximum power (kW)||129kW @ 4,500rpm|
|Maximum torque (Nm)||420Nm @ 2,000rpm|
|Throttle control||Electronic (drive-by-wire)|
|Transmission||SKYACTIV-DRIVE (6-speed Automatic) with manual shift function|
|Drive||All Wheel Drive|
|Number of seats||5|
|Overall height (mm)||1,710|
|Track – front/rear (mm)||1,585/1,590|
|Overall length (mm)||4,540|
|Overall width (mm)||1,840|
|Wheel base (mm)||2,700|
|Kerb weight (kg)||1,685 – 1,687|
|Towing capacity – braked (kg)||1,800|
|Towing capacity – unbraked (kg)||750|
|Cargo room volume (VDA)||403 litres (rear seats in use) 1,560 (rear seats folded)|
|Steering||Electronic power assist|
|Tyre size||225/55 R19|
|Rim size||19 inch|
|Brakes – front||Ventilated disc|
|Brakes – rear||Solid disc|
|Air conditioning||Dual-zone climate control|
|Cabin Air Filter||Ventilated pollen filter|
|Bluetooth® handsfree phone connectivity||Yes|
|Steering column – adjustable||Tilt and telescopic|
|CD player||Single disc MP3/WMA-compatible|
|Auxiliary input||USB, iPod® and 3.5mm MP3 player compatible|
|Premium Bose® amplifier and speakers||Yes|
|Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls||Yes|
|Interior illumination||Cargo room lamp, ignition key surround, map reading spot, power window switches|
|Leather wrapped shift knob||Yes|
|Leather wrapped steering wheel||Yes|
|Seat trim||Leather with 8-way power adjustment (driver) and heating function (driver and front passenger)|
|Sunroof||Power-sliding and tilt|
|Rear seats||40/20/40 fold|
|Satellite Navigation||In-dash, TomTom|
|Multi Information Display||5.8-inch colour, with touch screen control|
|Windscreen wipers – front||2-speed with rain-sensing function|
|Windscreen wipers – rear||With intermittent function|
|Door handles||Body coloured|
|Mirrors||Body coloured with power adjustment|
|Headlamps||Auto on/off Bi-Xenon with auto washers, auto leveling, Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) and daytime running lamps|
|Windows||Powered with one touch driver function|
|Body kit||Sports grille, rear spoiler, dual exhausts|
|Smart keyless entry||Yes|
|Push button engine start||Yes|
|Genuine Scheduled Servicing||3 years/100,000km (whichever occurs first) at no extra cost|
|On Road Assistance||3 year unlimited kilometre Mazda On Call Roadside Assistance|
|Warranty (years/km)||3 year unlimited kilometre Mazda Genuine Factory Warranty|
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham