2012 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport Diesel Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Spacious interior, fabulous finish and grunt-filled diesel.
What's Not
It?s a bit pricey; sporty diesel can be thirsty.
It?s a Mazda; the brand can?t put a foot wrong with young buyers.
Tim O'Brien | Apr, 30 2012 | 14 Comments


Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $39,040
(Maxx Sport 2.2 litre diesel AWD with six-speed automatic)
Consumption (claimed): 5.7 l/100km (and 149 g/km)
Consumption (tested): 8.2 l/100km



When we first met Mazda's new CX-5, the SkyActiv 2.0 litre petrol version, it had just one shortcoming: we found it a little underpowered when put to the test on mountain roads.

It was otherwise a very complete, comfortable and fun-to-drive little wagon. (And in fact, not so little.)

Enter the 2.2 litre CX-5 diesel rocking 129kW and 420Nm of torque under the bonnet. Those are muscular figures in any language. Enough to tow a horse float, for instance, and more than enough to give the new CX-5 diesel real get-up-and-go.

This is one strong, eager little unit.

And, unlike the CX-7 it replaces, this diesel comes mated to a very well-matched six-speed auto transmission.

We drove the Maxx Sport 2.2 diesel. It's sporty, stylish and well-appointed. It might not be as frugal as some might expect, but sets a new high-water mark for the compact SUV sector.



Quality: Mazda rarely fails when it comes to interior style and feel. Though the Maxx Sport is the mid-spec model, its fit and finish is as good as you’ll find.

Everything fits snugly, and dashboard, trims, surfaces and switchgear - all the important touch-points - are of a high quality and feel.

Comfort: Ditto: no complaints with these seats. Although it misses the leather of the premium-spec 'Grand Touring', the seats in the Maxx Sport, front and back, are well shaped and nicely bolstered (but not too deeply).

There's ample adjustment to the driver's seat and reach and rake adjustment to the steering wheel.

Legroom front and rear is excellent - better by a long chalk than the CX-7. There's a surprisingly spacious and airy feel inside and shoulder room is generous.

Equipment: Features across the range include air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, push-button start, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, trip computer, tyre pressure monitoring, 5.8-inch touchscreen, USB and Bluetooth with audio streaming, iPod playback (with on-screen music information) and aux-in, sat-nav with live updates, climate control and fully integrated rear view camera.

The Maxx Sport diesel adds auto-on/off headlamps, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker audio, leather wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake and steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, front fog lamps, satellite navigation, rear seats with 40/20/40 flat-folding backrests, and centre fold-down armrest.

It is also comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/65 tyres.

Storage: The CX-5’s flat cargo area kills contenders like the Tiguan for useable cargo space. The boot is wide and deep and the loading lip is low. It will swallow 403 litres with the rear seats up, 1560 litres when folded down.

Importantly, there’s enough height to have things neatly tucked away under the security screen.

Braked towing capacity is 1800kg.



Driveability: Available with all-wheel-drive models only, the 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D common-rail diesel engine delivers a gutsy 129kW at 4500rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm.

Mated to the six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission (no manual available), it’s the most eager and responsive in the sub-$40k part of the segment.

Up hill and down dale the CX-5 diesel feels strong. It will overtake effortlessly, has no trouble with a family-sized load on board, and is quick and lively around town. Our acceleration testing, two-up, indicated a 0-100km/h in the low 'nines'.

We gave it a right old flogging while in our care - you would treat it more kindly. This pushed the fuel consumption average over 9.0 l/100km at one stage, but lifting the foot sees the diesel returning to numbers the planet likes.

Overall, with a mix of treatment, we averaged 8.2 on a very tight, very new motor (you should do quite a bit better). Claimed fuel consumption is listed at 5.7 l/100km and carbon emissions at 149g/km.

Refinement: The diesel makes a nice deep murmur on the highway. It’s more intrusive when working hard, but not unpleasant or coarse.

It spins unusually freely – a benefit of Mazda’s SkyActiv technology – and is certainly one of the better small diesels of the moment for both power and refinement, and a willingness to rev.

Wind noise is low, and road noise – a bit of weak spot for most Mazdas – is quite well muted: the CX-5 is quieter than the Mazda6 on road.

Suspension: The CX-5 employs a conventional front strut and multi-link rear set-up. It tracks nicely to the road, requires less work at the wheel than the Sportage (which can be a tad fidgety on jiggly tarmac), and is well damped with a firm but elastic feel.

Some commented that they found the ride too firm – I didn’t. Point it at a corner and you’ll notice that it certainly handles better than most SUVs.

It’s not in the Audi Q3’s league, but, provided you don’t mind a bit of body roll, it can be placed accurately into a corner and hustled around a winding road.

Braking: Braking is good: you’d expect nothing less. The pedal lacks a little feel (compared to the Q3 and Forester), but it will pull you up straight and true every time.



Safety features: Standard across the CX-5 range are front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock braking, stability control, traction control system, emergency brake assist, emergency brake-force distribution, hill start assist, whiplash minimising front seats, and reversing camera.

Available with the Grand Touring only, a $1990 Tech Pack adds blind-spot monitoring system, high-beam control and lane departure warning system.



Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometers.

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



Sportage SLi 2.0DT ($35,720): Arguably the segment leader for value until the CX-5 came along. The Kia is considerably cheaper and has more power but less torque.

The CX-5 however betters the Sportage for refinement, road feel and interior finish. Our pick, the CX-5, is worth the extra expense. (see Sportage reviews)

Tiguan 103TDI ($38,490 with DSG): The Tiguan leads the pack for all-round handling verve and balance. But the well-rounded CX-5 is close dynamically, more comfortable on road, has a bigger cargo area and is more spacious inside. Our pick, again, the CX-5. (see Tiguan reviews)

Subaru Forester 2.0D ($36,490): No auto option counts against the Forester diesel. It’s a good drive though, is versatile enough to get a little way off-road, and has a reasonably spacious boot.

But, worthy though the Forester is, it’s a clean sweep for the CX-5 which is again our pick. (see Forester reviews)

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



So, yes, Mazda would seem to have got the formula right with the diesel CX-5.

Its interior finish, trim and style, is, as Mazda claims, “a cut above”. With the more potent diesel engine under the bonnet, the CX-5 is the best driving and best-buying SUV of the moment sub-$40k.

You’ve got to extend the budget to Audi’s Q3 Quattro 2.0 TDI to find a better one.

Mazda Australia has landed a very good car here with the CX-5. Petrol or diesel, it’s one you’ll be happy with. But if you need a bit more power, go for the diesel.



  • 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 2.2 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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