Mazda CX-5 AWD Diesel Limited 2012 Review

August 15th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

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.

If you’re looking to purchase a CX-5, try here (opens in a new window).

Price: $55,990


  • Excellent all-rounder
  • Useful safety features
  • All-wheel drive
  • It’s almost perfect, except…


  • Blind spot warning system far too sensitive

Technical specifications

Vehicle Highlights
Price $55,990+ ORC
Style 5 door Crossover SUV
Tank capacity (Litres) 58 litres
Recommended fuel Diesel
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
Capacity (cc) 2,184
Compression ratio 14.0:1
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
Doors 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
Wheel Type Alloy
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
Cruise Control Yes
CD player Single disc MP3/WMA-compatible
Auxiliary input USB, iPod® and 3.5mm MP3 player compatible
Speakers 9
Bluetooth® audio Yes
Premium Bose® amplifier and speakers Yes
Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls Yes
Cup holders 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
Aerial Shark fin-type
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
Fog-lamps Front
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

Mazda CX-5 GSX 2012 Review

May 23rd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

I never call the Thames Coast road by its proper name. I call it ‘The Road of a Thousand Bends’. Apart from a couple of short straights at Manaia and a few villages dotted along the coast it is a relentless barrage of tight (often blind) corners wedged precariously between the sea and steep bluffs.

If you have a car with great dynamics this road is frustrating during the day but awesome at night. During the day there’s a procession of boaties, campervans and sightseers meaning you can’t stretch the vehicle’s legs; late at night, though, you can Continue reading “Mazda CX-5 GSX 2012 Review” »

Mazda to launch four new or updated models by 2014

November 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Big things are happening at Mazda and according to recent reports the Japanese carmaker’s product range is about to get a major overhaul with the introduction of four redesigned models by 2014.

For starters the redesigned CX-5 will be released, but the big launch is the all-new Mazda6 which is due to go on sale late next year.  Previewed by the Takeri concept (pictured), the production model is expected to blend sleek styling with a range of fuel efficient engines.

After the 6, Mazda will apparently introduce redesigned versions of the Mazda3, MX-5 and CX-9 in 2013. All the new models will use Skyactiv technologies and ride on lightweight platforms.

Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut

August 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has just revealed its all-new 2012 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover ahead of its world debut at the upcoming2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

The new crossover is based on the Minagi concept vehicle, which was revealed earlier this year, and is the first new model to use the ‘Kodo’ design language.

The CX-5 styling includes a new prominent corporate face with a five-point grille and touches of chrome trim. The word ‘Kodo’ means soul of motion in Japanese and there is plenty of dynamic flair to the CX-5’s shape. It also hints at the design of the next generation of Mazda’s hatchbacks and sedan models.

The CX-5 will also be the first model to feature Mazda’s new SKYACTIV green technologies which includes gasoline and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions and lightweight construction methods.

The engine range for the European-spec CX-5 will include the new SkyActiv-G 2.0 petrol engine and also the SkyActiv-D 2.2 diesel engine in two power outputs. The diesel models will push their power through a front-wheel-drive layout and a SkyActiv-MT manual transmission. Continue reading “Mazda reveals new CX-5 crossover ahead of Frankfurt debut” »

Mazda confirms new small crossover to be called CX-5

April 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has announced that its upcoming smaller crossover vehicle will be named the CX-5. It only makes sense really and keeps in with the Japanese carmakers current naming conventions.

Apparently the small crossover will take many design cues from the Minagi Concept (pictured) that Mazda unveiled in March at the Geneva Motor Show, and it will be the first Mazda vehicle to use the automaker’s new Kodo design language.

Mazda says the CX-5 will make use of the automaker’s SkyActiv technologies, which will include new engines, transmissions, body and chassis. SkyActiv refers to Mazda’s green technologies which means more efficient powertrains and lower overall body mass for improved fuel efficiency and performance in the new CX-5.

Mazda Minagi concept car uncovered before Geneva debut

January 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Like so many concept cars the Mazda Minagi may never see production but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important machine for the Japanese carmaker. The Minagi design will likely influence many of Mazda’s next-generation of production cars and one look at the front shows that Mazda’s new ‘Shinari’ design language is already in full bloom.

If the Minagi is produced, it will be positioned below the CX-7 within Mazda’s lineup. In fact, test mules for this new small CUV have already been spotted testing. Provisionally called the CX-5, Mazda is showing genuine intent to build a smaller crossover machine.

Little else is known about the Minagi concept vehicle at this stage but official information is expected to be released leading up to the Geneva Motor Show in March. Continue reading “Mazda Minagi concept car uncovered before Geneva debut” »

Mazda could be working on CX-5

July 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Back in 2008 Mazda spoke of expanding its range with a small crossover, it followed up with the striking Kazamai Concept. Now, according to reports, Mazda is preparing to have it’s new small SUV ready for sale by the end of 2011. When it was first suggested two years ago the idea was that the vehicle would better position Mazda as a growing brand but now it sounds like it could be a mixture of radical design and very frugal economy.

For Mazda, a CX-5 would give an entry into a segment it knows buyers are moving toward, and the vehicle being discussed could prove extremely thrifty. Mazda is reportedly boasting of a 100kg weight savings vs. the competitors, as well as greater power from the company’s already frugal Sky engines. Both three- and five-door versions have been rumoured, but for now, they remain just rumours.

Check out images of the Mazda Kazamai concept below.

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