Mazda: MX-5 ticks all the right boxes

November 25th, 2015 by Matt Greenop

It may be slighted as a ‘hairdresser’s car,’ by some circles, but you can’t take away the fact that Mazda’s MX-5 is the biggest selling sportscar on the planet. More than a million of the lightweight ‘pure’ roadsters currently roam the planet, and with a ground-up new car now in showrooms, that number’s sure to grow. Continue reading “Mazda: MX-5 ticks all the right boxes” »

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

Mazda3 GSE Skyactiv 2011 Review

February 21st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Fuel economy wasn’t a strong point in the outgoing Mazda3, something that’s been rectified in the new model. In fact, it’s a gigantic 25% more efficient than the previous version. That was a little on the thirsty side, so the changes to the 2-litre, 113kW motor, and the bits that are driven by it, are welcome.

The engine has been completely redesigned. Reductions in friction and weight, modifications to the cooling system to reduce resistance, better fuel atomization in the injectors, electrically operated sequential valve timing (S-TV) – these are the things that people that belong to car clubs talk about while standing around the open engine bay. But most of voluminous amount of private buyers of the Mazda3 (because it is the second-best selling compact car behind the Corolla) will want to simply spend less time queuing to pay for fuel, and subsequently ‘up-sizing’ their purchase with chocolate bars that are two for the price of one. The very fact that the Mazda requires fewer trips to the gas station could influence the Continue reading “Mazda3 GSE Skyactiv 2011 Review” »

Mazda ends production of RX-8 sports car

August 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has ended the manufacture of its RX-8 sports car and subsequently finished mass production of the rotary engine. While the news may come as a shock to rotary fans it may not be the end of the road for the hard-spinning motor.

Unofficial reports are stating that the final RX-8 rolled off the production line last month and the remaining stock should be sold by the end of this year.

The RX-8’s demise into extinction didn’t happen suddenly and has been on the cards since Mazda stopped offering the car in Europe last year. The RX-8 couldn’t make the grade with the stricter EU emission standards and was sent packing. Over in the States, Mazda sold just 1,134 of the models last year and 2011 has been even slower.

It’s a tough end for a car that was coveted and admired when it launched back in 2003. The best sales year for the RX-8 was 2004 when it sold 23,690 units. It’s hung on as the last in the long line of rotary-powered sports machines that started back in 1971 with the RX-2, continued through the years with the successful RX-7, which lasted for three generations, and ultimately ended with the sharp-handling RX-8. Continue reading “Mazda ends production of RX-8 sports car” »

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” »

Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mazda Demio is big in Japan, and while we know it as the Mazda2 it does alright here in NZ as well. To keep things going strong the 2 has just received a minor facelift and one of Mazda’s new eco-friendly motors – a direct injection 1.3-litre SkyActiv gasoline engine.

While the updates are only for the Japanese domestic market at this stage, they show some serious intent from Mazda to lower its fuel figures. With a compression ratio of 14.0:1 and an advanced start/stop system that requires less fuel to re-initiate the combustion cycle, the 1300cc four-cylinder is set to be one of the most frugal mills around. Apparently the SkyActiv equipped Mazda2 can achieve fuel consumption as low as 4.0l/100km on the JC08 combined evaluation cycle. Continue reading “Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine” »

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.

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