A new suit of clothes on the outside and a fresh take on interior design make the new Mazda CX-5 different enough from its predecessor to buoy buyer interest, yet Mazda has been slightly conservative with this crucial new model so as not to interrupt sales success.
With SUVs having topped passenger car sales for the first time in Australia this year that’s a prudent move, and Mazda has turned its attention to criticisms of noise and refinement to ensure that the showroom shine doesn’t wear off in day-to-day use.
At its core the CX-5 uses the same mechanical package as before, which is Mazda’s way of getting the best value out of it’s expensive SkyActiv platform investment, but that doesn’t mean the Japanese company has cut corners with its latest model.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $28,690-$49,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, 140kW/251Nm 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol, 129kW/420Nm 2.2-litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp manual, 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.0-7.5 l/100km
Mazda Australia has taken the opportunity to expand the CX-5 model line-up with the addition of a new mid-grade Touring variant that takes the total number of models to a neat dozen, stretching from $28,690 (plus on-roads) - up $800 on its predecessor - for the entry-level front-wheel drive Maxx out to $49,990 (plus on-roads) - a $460 discount - for the flagship Akera turbo diesel.
No matter which model you look at, there is an air of familiarity about the CX-5 when viewed in the metal for the first time. Dig a little deeper - or park one next to a first-gen model - and the devil in its detail becomes more apparent, from the beautifully minimalist yet extremely complex front end treatment, to the chrome outline on the lower edge of the side glass, its extended rear hips and the more horizontal graphics on the bootlid that make it look wider and more substantial from behind.
It isn't a radical departure in terms of style, but it looks more refined than its predecessor, upholding Mazda’s near-premium ethos.
- Maxx: Cloth seat trim, manual air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, rear park sensors, multi-function trip computer, push-button start, LED headlights, 17-inch steel wheels
- Maxx Sport: (in addition to Maxx) dual-zone climate control, rear seats with centre armrest storage, rear air vents, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Touring: (in addition to Maxx Sport) keyless entry, leather/suede-look seat trim, head-up display with traffic sign recognition, front park sensors
- GT: (in addition to Touring) sunroof, powered tailgate, adaptive front lighting, leather seat trim
- Akera: (in addition to GT) radar cruise control with Stop & Go function, adaptive LED headlights, driver attention alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, side camera, smart brake support
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, USB and Aux inputs, Pandora, Stitcher and Aha internet radio interface (via smartphone), satellite navigation (optional on Maxx, standard on Maxx Sport and above) six-speaker audio (10-speaker on GT and Akera)
- Cargo Volume: 442 litres to rear seats, 1342 litres with seats folded
All CX-5 variants are equipped with push button start and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen multimedia display with digital radio, Bluetooth and internet radio apps.
The base-model Maxx rides on 17-inch steel wheels, has basic cloth trim and regular air conditioning and is the only variant offered with a manual transmission - with the 2.0-litre engine.
The popular Maxx Sport adds 17-inch alloy wheels, higher-grade cloth trim, front fog lamps, dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, satellite navigation and a centre rear armrest with a USB power outlet.
The new Touring grade adds a flip-up head-up display with traffic sign recognition, suede and fake leather interior trim, keyless entry and front parking sensors, while the penultimate GT specification brings 19-inch alloys, leather trim in either black or white with power adjustable front seats, sunroof, adaptive headlights, a more advanced windscreen-projected head-up display and a 10-speaker Bose audio system.
The flagship Akera essentially adds even more safety features above the GT, bringing radar cruise control with stop-and-go for heavy traffic, LED headlamps, lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, a side camera and a driver attention alert.
Inside the cabin familiar controls and a simple instrument cluster take away from the elegance of the new dash design, which features a nice mix of soft-touch materials and brushed aluminium highlights as well as industrial-looking trapezoidal air vents laying in a horizontal recess and a top-mounted tablet-style touch screen.
Everything is logically positioned and easy to use, there's excellent small item storage, plenty of power outlets to keep multiple devices charged up, the instruments are clear and the windscreen head-up display in the top-tier models clearly projects all the right information for the driver.
The high-perched front seats are comfortable for long distances with adequate support when driving through the bends, there's good adjustment to suit most drivers and all-round vision is pretty good.
While there is plenty of space in the front, the rear seat still doesn't offer as much legroom as rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, and Hyundai Tucson. There is still enough for two adults to travel short distances, but it's better suited for small families on a more regular basis.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 140kW/251Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, 129kW/420Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Six-speed manual (Maxx only) or Six-speed automatic, front and all wheel drive (depending on specification)
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, 297mm vented front, 303mm rear (petrol) or 320mm rear (diesel)
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.0m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked
The 2.0-litre engine is only available with a front-wheel drive layout in the Maxx and Maxx Sport model grades and produces peak outputs of 114kW and 200Nm while consuming a claimed average of 6.9L/100km.
The 2.5-litre petrol motor is offered in every model grade with an all-wheel drive transmission and six-speed automatic gearbox only. It has been tweaked slightly to improve driveability, increasing peak power to 140kW (up 2kW) and maximum torque to 251Nm (up 1Nm), but, along with a weight increase of around 40kg across the board, it comes at a cost to fuel consumption which rises slightly to a claimed 7.5L/100km - a figure Mazda concedes isn't the benchmark but says is more achievable in the real world.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel remains largely unchanged, producing 129kW and 400Nm with a claimed average of 6.0L/100km, and is offered on every model grade from Maxx Sport and above.
As for how it drives, we sampled a variety of models during the preview drive around Brisbane recently and, like the changes to the interior and exterior, its overall on-road manners remain the largely the same, even if there are incremental improvements in key areas.
Like before, the CX-5 has one of the more dynamic on-road characters in the compact SUV segment, with well weighted and accurate steering, a solid and sure-footed stance and predictable handling through the corners. The trade-off for being more engaging to drive is the suspension settings are a little firmer and, while generally comfortable, it isn't as compliant over bumps as the locally-tuned Tucson for example.
The biggest improvement comes in how much quieter it is on a variety of road surfaces, an attribute that was always a bugbear in its predecessor. It's still not whisper quiet on rough roads, and there's a little more tyre noise on top-end models with larger wheels, but in most environments it is a vast improvement.
As for the engines, we only tested the range-topping 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel on the preview drive. And it's hard to pick which one suits the CX-5 better.
The petrol engine doesn't have the same degree of low-end urgency as the diesel, but it is a sweet motor that revs freely, is quiet and refined at cruising speeds and generally feels effortless in everyday normal driving conditions.
It also feels willing and spritely, as well as generating a fruity four-pot exhaust note, when the Sport mode is engaged.
But the turbo diesel has a broader spread of pulling power, even if it doesn't rev as high, and it feels as though it would be better suited to lugging a full family around while also being more efficient in the long run.
ANCAP Rating: The 2017 Mazda CX-5 has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: All CX-5 models come with six airbags (dual front, front seat side, and full-length curtain) electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with emergency brake assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera, rear ISOFIX child seat mounts, forward and reverse autonomous emergency braking.
CX-5 Akera variants add driver fatigue monitoring, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, side-monitoring camera, traffic sign recognition, and radar-guided cruise control with Stop & Go.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres.
Servicing: Service intervals are 12months/10,000km (whichever comes first) and Mazda’s capped price servicing alternates between $300 (odd-numbered intervals) and $238 (even-numbered intervals) for the 2.0-litre petrol Maxx up to $316 and $386, or $316/$333 for the 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel GT up to five years/50,000km. Mazda’s service schedule also includes separate replacement intervals and costs for items like cabin filters and brake fluid. Consult your Mazda dealer for full terms and pricing.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Mazda has safely updated the CX-5 by addressing some of its shortcomings while refining a winning formula in all other areas.
It hasn't stretched itself into unchartered technologies, projected its design into the future or re-invented its driving characteristics. Instead, it has polished what was already the country's favourite SUV.
Extra equipment and minimal pricing changes keep the CX-5 competitive in is class, but sharp new looks and a freshly presented cabin should help keep up sales momentum.