2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Petrol Automatic Review Photo:
2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Automatic Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Roomy with a fresh interior, quite a lot of car for under $30,000.
What's Not
Lacking torque, slightly austere in Maxx form.
Fresh styling, smart interior, nice handling, value buying - that?s why it?s selling its head off.
Kez Casey | Jul, 23 2012 | 12 Comments


Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $29,800 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.4l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.8l/100km



Mazda’s barnstorming CX-5 SUV may have a numeric value two places below the CX-7 it replaces, but it’s better in nearly every way. And in this case, less is more.

In Maxx 2WD form, the CX-5 delivers plenty of metal and on-road appeal for the money, and is only a fraction smaller in all dimensions (except height) than the old model.

What really impresses with the CX-5 is its superior fuel economy, without sacrificing practicality or driveability. In a thriving SUV market, with plenty of fierce competition, Mazda has hatched a very good mid-sized contender with this car.

We’re not quite so sure of the buying value in the range-topping Grand Touring diesel model - it’s pricey - but we find a heck of a lot to like in the entry-level Maxx.



Quality: Mazda hasn’t ever had issues building interiors that pass the test of time, and that hasn’t changed in the CX-5. Material quality has moved up a step though, with finely grained surfaces and rich-feeling tactile points.

Dare we suggest Mazda has toppled Volkswagen as the pinnacle of automobile interiors? Not just yet, but the CX-5 takes the lead over Japanese rivals.

One piece of console trim in the driver’s footwell did detach itself in our presence, but after a hard life of press-car duty we can’t solely blame Mazda for that.

Comfort: Bit of a mixed bag in the comfort department. For some, the fit of the seats was spot-on, for others (your correspondent included) the short squab and tall rear-seating was hard to settle into.

Space is certainly no issue though with ample legroom and decent width for plonking three in the rear.

Factor in a healthy range of seat and steering-wheel adjustment and the driving position is easy to tailor, but adjustable lumbar support is a noticeable omission.

Equipment: Features include cruise control, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, push-button start, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, trip computer, multi-function steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring.

There's also a 5.8-inch touchscreen with USB/iPod/aux connectivity, Bluetooth with audio streaming, climate control, fully integrated rear view camera, cloth trim and 17-inch stylised steel wheels.

Storage: Behind the rear seats there’s 403 litres of cargo volume on offer and all your odds and ends can be hidden from view with a cargo blind that lifts up with the tailgate.

The rear seats do fold to reveal 1560 litres of room, but curiously don’t drop flat and lack a release lever in the boot, a feature reserved for only the top-spec CX-5 Grand Touring.



Driveability: At first glance the all-new SkyActiv G petrol engine seems pretty conventional. From 2.0 litres capacity, it produces 113kW of power at 6000rpm and 198Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

There’s no turbocharger, but it scores direct injection and comes with start-stop for added fuel savings.

The most impressive technical aspect has to be the 13:1 compression ratio; that’s stratospherically high and almost rivals the compression of some diesels.

Usually an engine like this would depend on high octane fuel, but the CX-5 asks for nothing more than standard fuel, and runs without a trace of pinging.

The SkyActiv G engine is mated to Mazda’s SkyActive Drive six-speed automatic. It’s an excellent unit - smooth and rarely caught off-guard. There is a manual shift mode for those that prefer, but there’s very little need to use it.

Engine and transmission are very well-matched, and while the torque and power figures aren’t enormous, the CX-5 feels spritely off the line.

Once rolling however the engine’s middling torque output reveals itself. Through the midrange, performance is a little listless, arguably where you might expect it to perform at its best.

The engine is happy to spin though and, for brisk progress, it’s just a matter of holding a fistfull of revs on board.

We found that matching the claimed fuel consumption required glacial acceleration around town and on the road.

To keep up with traffic we needed to tip in a bit more juice, hence the 8.8 l/100km consumption recorded on test, well above the 6.4 l/100km that Mazda claims, but still quite thrifty.

Refinement: The four-cylinder petrol engine is a smooth free-spinning unit. It isn’t quite as silent as it could be however and the tinny exhaust note can become grating on longer trips.

Its seamless stop-start system however is very impressive: it’s quick to react, and smooth upon restarting - good enough to put some expensive Euro cars to shame.

Suspension: The suspension features a MacPherson strut front end and multi-link rear. On broken tarmac we found the ride to be well judged, level enough to be composed but with the right amount of comfort.

There is some body roll, but corners can be tackled with confidence.

Braking: The entire CX-5 range runs 297mm ventilated front disc rotors and 303mm solid rear discs. In AWD equipped diesel CX-5s we’ve found the package to be good, but in the lighter FWD Maxx the package makes great sense.

The pedal feels firm underfoot, but is still easy to control ensuring the CX-5 Maxx pulls up strongly.



ANCAP rating: 5 stars

Safety features: Front, side and full-length curtain airbags are standard, along with ABS, stability control, traction control, emergency brake assist, emergency brake-force distribution, hill start assist, anti-whiplash front headrests, a reversing camera and height adjustable, pre-tensioning front seatbelts with load limiters.



Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres

Service costs: Service intervals are 10,000km or six months. Mazda does not offer fixed-price servicing, check with your dealer before purchase.



Holden Captiva 5 2WD petrol ($29,990) - Holden’s Captiva misses out on interior room and is a long way behind the CX-5 in terms of quality-feel.

On the road, the more powerful engine is needed to lug the Captiva’s extra 240kg around, but fuel consumption suffers as a result. While it feels light on its feet, the Captiva’s dynamics aren’t so great. (see Captiva reviews)

Volkswagen Tiguan 118TSI ($28,490) - Thanks to its turbo and supercharged engine the Tiguan manages to produce the most torque in this comparison. As a result acceleration feels more lively with less throttle.

The 118TSI comes with a manual transmission only - ruling it out for many shoppers. While the interior is well presented (and the equal of the CX-5 for fit and finish) it isn’t quite as striking as the Mazda. (see Tiguan reviews)

Nissan X-trail ST 2WD ($30,990 ) - Rear seat accommodation is tighter and performance is off the boil, despite engine outputs and weight very close to the Mazda.

Age is the enemy of the X-trail against this newer competitor. (see X-trail reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



With strong open-road dynamics and an interior that really shines in terms of finish and quality, the CX-5 Maxx makes a very positive impression.

Keeping fuel use at a minimum without sacrificing driving enjoyment is a strong feature in its favour.

But, while it’s a very good car, certainly one of the better buys of the moment, it isn’t all roses - if we were to pick a debit we think the engine could do with a little more punch.

That of course can be fixed by opting for the diesel engine, but that requires stepping up to the AWD Maxx Sports, at over $9000 more.

In a bustling SUV market, the CX-5 stands clear of many of its (admittedly ageing) rivals as a very good buy. It is certainly one worth careful consideration if you’re hunting for a new medium SUV.



  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0 litre petrol FWD 6MT - $27,800
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0 litre petrol FWD 6AT - $29,800
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0 litre petrol AWD 6AT - $32,300
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.0 litre petrol FWD 6AT - $33,540
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.0 litre petrol AWD 6AT - $36,040
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.2 litre diesel AWD 6AT - $39,040
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.0 litre petrol AWD 6AT - $43,200
  • 2012 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.2 litre diesel AWD 6AT - $46,200

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price (unless otherwise noted) and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

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