We drive the newly-updated Mazda CX-5 SUV
Pros: Handsome styling, refined drive, premium interior quality
Cons: No Android Auto or CarPlay, petrol engine lacks mid-range
Such is the popularity of SUVs in Ireland right now that the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai are the two best-selling new cars of the year so far. Mazda’s CX-5 has been another popular choice with SUV buyers since it was launched five years ago, and while it hasn’t sold to the same extent as its aforementioned rivals, it has garnered a reputation for being one of the best to drive in its class.
The CX-5 has a growing list of rivals to compete with for 2017 including the newly-launched Skoda Kodiaq, so in order to keep up appearances, Mazda has overhauled it substantially for 2017 with revised styling, an upgraded interior and new engines. We spent a week driving the new CX-5 on Irish roads recently to see if it can remain a leading player in the heavily-contested SUV class for 2017 and beyond.
What is it like?
The CX-5’s styling has only changed slightly from before, but it is ultimately one of the most handsome SUV s on the market. Notable changes include a sharpened front end and new eye-catching lights, while our high specification 'Platinum' test car boasts 19-inch alloy wheels for added flair. It’s nice to note that LED Headlights are standard across the range, along with electric heated mirrors and alloy wheels.
Interior quality has taken a noticeable leap forward, so the CX-5 feels more upmarket than before, with soft-touch materials surrounding the driver and a neatly-integrated seven-inch touch screen infotainment system. The system is incredibly easy to use and it connects seamlessly with smartphones, athough it's slurprising that Android Auto or Apple CarPlay aren’t offered.
The CX-5 has a standard heads up display system that projects speed and other driving information onto the windscreen in crystal-clear fashion, and our the CX-5 that we drove also has an upgraded 10-speaker Bose speaker system, which is a must-have for music lovers. Space in the new model is similar to before with enough room to comfortably accommodate four adults and their luggage.
There is 506 litres of space in the boot and the flat loading floor helps with sliding bulky items in and out, though there still isn’t an option to upgrade to seven seats like the Skoda Kodiaq. The new CX-5 feels more comfortable than before from the driver’s seat with a commanding view of the road from the cabin.
The CX-5 is available with either a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine or a larger turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel unit in two states of tune (150hp or 175hp). We drove the 2.0-litre petrol which is an unlikely unit for a large SUV, but it churns out 165hp and delivers power smoothly with 0-100km/h taking 10.4 seconds. The petrol unit lacks the mid-range oomph and superior economy of the larger turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel unit however, which is likely to remain the popular engine with Irish buyers.
The petrol-powered CX-5 is only available in two-wheel-drive and with a slick six speed manual gearbox, while the diesel can be specified with all-wheel-drive or an automatic transmission. Fuel economy was better than we expected, as we averaged 6.8l/100km (42MPG) during a week of urban and motorway-based driving.
The CX-5 has always been one of the most engaging SUVs to drive and this continues in the new model. Thanks to weight savings, it feels sharper to drive than before and it is confidence-inspiring on twisty stretches of road. It is also more comfortable at speed with lower noise levels in the cabin, and the updated suspension soaks up bumpy road surfaces with aplomb.
Prices for the new Mazda CX-5 start from €28,995 for the base specification Executive model, which is in a similar ball park to the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq. Equipment levels are competitive, with Mazda’s 7-inch touch screen system, LED headlights, alloy wheels, auto cruise control, Hill Hold Assist and various other features as standard. Our range-topping Platinum specification test car is lavishly-equipped with a reversing camera, upgraded alloy wheels, a Bose sound system, electric seats, heated steering wheel and several other niceties, but it is priced at over €35,000.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The new Mazda CX-5 has evolved incrementally, but the updates are significant enough to reaffirm its position as one of the leading choices in the SUV segment. Interior quality has taken a significant leap forward too and now matches class leaders like the Volkswagen Tiguan, while comfort levels and equipment have also improved. The petrol engine ultimately lacks the all-round desirability and drivability of the larger 2.2-litre diesel unit, so it’s likely to be a minority choice for now. Our pick of the range would be the 150hp diesel with front wheel drive, which offers the ideal mix of performance, economy and practicality alike.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Mazda CX-5
Prices from: €28,995
Price as tested: €35,845
Annual Road Tax: €390
Engine: 1998cc four-cylinder petrol
Power/Torque: 165bhp / 210Nm
Top Speed: 201km/h
0-100km/h: 10.4 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 506 litres