FIVE STAR 28/04/2017 00:00:00
Mazda's CX-5 is a mid-sized SUV with a loyal following. Jonathan Crouch checks out the improved version of this MK2 model to find out why.
Ten Second Review
The second generation version of Mazda's CX-5 mid-sized SUV has been lightly improved. As before, it's a good compromise between a Nissan Qashai-style family Crossover and a Toyota RAV4-style SUV, offering good driving dynamics, efficient running costs and decent practicality. This may not be the first car you consider in this sector, but try one and you might just think it to be the best.
The CX-5 has proved to be a crucial car for Mazda. Launched in 2012 relatively early on in the current craze for mid-sized SUV and Crossover models, it's since sold prodigiously. To the point where this model line now accounts for a quarter of all the Japanese brand's global sales. Over 1.5 million CX-5s have been sold worldwide, with 32,000 examples having found UK owners.
Will those people continue to like this sharp-looking second generation version? It'll be interesting to see. The engine-ware hasn't changed as part of the minor update we're looking at here, but there's better infotainment provision and improvements to efficiency and refinement. All of which this car will need to stay competitive in the face of crowded competition for sales of cars of this kind. Let's judge this CX-5 on its merits.
Mazda reckons that NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) has been significantly improved on this enhanced CX-5. The engine range hasn't changed much, though the brand has incorporated a cylinder deactivation system into its 2.0-litre 165PS 'SKYACTIV-G' petrol unit - an engine which can only be ordered with front-wheel drive (though it does now feature an auto option if you want it). This petrol variant also now features what Mazda calls 'steering vibration counter-measures'. The volume 2.2-litre 'SKYACTIV-D' diesel unit that most UK buyers want offered with either 150 or 184PS and can be specified with auto transmission and (in 184PS form) with AWD too. AWD variants now get an Off-road Traction Assist system.
Like many new-era Mazda models, this one's a product of the company's 'Jinba-Ittai' 'car-and-driver-as-one' philosophy which aims to deliver more focused levels of levels of driver engagement and comfort. This time round, particular attention has been paid to reducing noise and vibration within the cabin. Plus a 15% improvement in torsional body rigidity, along with refinements to the steering, suspension and brakes, all contribute to an improvement in the handling precision that marked out the previous model. Further helping in this regard is a freshly introduced 'GVC' 'G-Vectoring Control' torque vectoring system that transfers traction to the wheel most needing it when you're going at speed through tight corners.
And off road prowess? Well, as with the systems employed by most of its rivals, this car has a set-up in which the torque is automatically split according to the terrain you're on, so it can direct 100% of drive to the front wheels in normal conditions, with up to 50% then directed to the rear wheels if slip is detected.
Design and Build
Nothing much has changed with the look of this second generation CX-5 - but then, nothing much needed to. This MK2 model takes its cues from the stunning 'RX Vision' concept car the brand displayed at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show and offers a sharp and mature design that British buyers seem to like. There's a sleek profile and a reatively low roofline that underscore this SUV's solid stance and elegant proportions. Under the skin, the body structure has been created under the concept of what Mazda calls 'Refined Toughness'.
Inside, changes to this updated model include the integration of a slightly larger 8-inch centre-dash touchscreen. As before, this display differs from rival set-ups in its provision of a lower rotary controller: and it includes navigation as standard. Other minor changes include the addition of LED interior lighting, a redesigned key and the availability of black half-leatherette seats on plusher variants. In terms of overall quality, the finish still isn't quite up there with a rival Volkswagen Tiguan, but it's certainly an improvement over what you'd get in competitors like Ford's Kuga and Kia's Sportage. In the back, there's plenty of legroom, despite the provision of a decently-sized 506-litre boot, extendable to 1,620-litres on retraction of the rear bench.
Market and Model
List pricing sees CX-5 ownership pitched much as before, with prices ranging in the £27,000 to £40,000 bracket. There are three trim levels - 'SE-L', 'Sport' and 'GT Sport' and three engines, a 2.0 165PS petrol unit and 150 and 184PS versions of the familiar 2.2-litre diesel. You have to have a 184PS diesel if you want to be able to pay the £2,000 premium that Mazda demands for AWD. Automatic transmission is an extra £1,500.
All models feature a generous standard equipment tally that includes LED headlights, auto power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a DAB radio and a 7" colour touch-screen display with Mazda's integrated navigation and 'Apple CarPlay/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. 'Sport Nav' cars add to this with a reversing camera, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat and Smart keyless entry, plus heated front seats and steering wheel, a power lift tailgate and a new head-up display that projects directly onto the windscreen and features Traffic Sign Recognition.
As part of the revised line-up, this model gets even more active safety equipment as standard, including an updated version of the CX-5's 'Advanced Smart City Brake Support' system, which incorporates night-time pedestrian detection for the first time. This Advanced SCBS set-up uses a forward-sensing camera to detect vehicles and pedestrians ahead and help avoid collisions or mitigate damage in the event one does occur. There's also Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic alert, High Beam Control and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning standard across the range. In addition, the optional safety pack on 'Sport' models features a 360-degree view camera and Adaptive LED Headlamps.
Cost of Ownership
The CX-5's unexpectedly imperious progress continues when it comes to cost of ownership and this is where the SKYACTIV technology really pays off. Let's get to the WLTP figures. The 2.2-litre 150PS diesel variant many will choose returns up to 49.6mpg in manual form (or 43.5mpg as an auto) and up to 151g/km (171g/km). For the 2.2 184PS diesel, the figures are 42.8mpg (39.8mpg) and 175g/km (186g/km). The 2.0-litre petrol model now manages up to 160g/km - or 173g/km in auto form.
Clever use of low compression ratios for the SKYACTIV-G petrol and SKYACTIV-D diesel engines means that ignition takes longer, ensuring a better mixture of air and fuel. This approach also enables the engines to run with less mechanical stress, which allows the use of lighter weight materials, in turn meaning that the finished vehicle will need less energy to move through the air. And no energy at all of course when it comes to a temporary stop, say at the lights or in traffic. At that point in this Mazda's case, an 'i-stop' engine stop/start system (the fastest-reacting set-up of its kind on the market) will cut in, reducing fuel consumption by up to 10% all on its own.
As for peace of mind, well given the reliability of Mazda products, you'd have thought the company might have wanted to improve upon its usual three year/60,000 mile package and take on the Korean brands. Not so. That familiar standard warranty remains in place for this car.
The CX-5 isn't one of those cars that jumps out at you on first acquaintance. But as with many Mazdas, its modesty hides a product packed with innovation. The result is excellent packaging, strong economy and emissions and driving dynamics that are amongst the best in this sector. Add in a high specification and competitive pricing and you've a compelling proposition, especially with the minor refinements made to this updated model.
In summary, what we've got here is yet another example of Mazda going its own way, doing things differently. Which means? Well something quite simple really. If you're looking for a car of this kind, make sure you also try this one.
MAZDA MAKES GOOD 02/02/2222 00:00:00
By Jonathan Crouch
For years now, the market's fastest growing segment has been that for Qashqai-like Crossovers and compact soft-roading SUVs. If you want a used car that offers the best of both and offers fine driving dynamics, low running costs, practical space and decent value, then it's hard to ignore this one, the first generation version of Mazda's CX-5. Not the first car of this sort you thought of is it? But try one and you might just think it to be the best.
5-door SUV [2.0 petrol / 2.2 diesel]
Mazda was late to the Qashqai-class Crossover party but when it did at last turn up with a model in this segment - in 2012 with this first generation CX-5 model - we found that the job had been done properly. So is this a soft-roading RAV4 or Freelander-style compact SUV with at least a modicum of off road gumption? Or the or the kind of family hatchback-on-stilts the industry calls a 'Crossover', Qashqai or Peugeot 3008-style models better suited to Sainsburys than the Serengeti? We're going to let you make up your own mind on that one.
Probably, the definition doesn't matter. Depending on your preference, you could pigeonhole this CX-5 either way -which is exactly as Mazda wants it. That's why it created modestly powered entry-level 2WD versions for school run mums. And pokey all-wheel driven variants with a tougher remit further up the range. Here's a brand who reaped the benefits of late arrival to this particular party. A maker who looked carefully at what was available, what buyers wanted and what they actually needed. A measured approach that paid dividends. This MK1 model CX-5 sold until it was replaced by a second generation model in mid-2017.
What You Get
Mazda certainly likes its catch phrases. Its marketers have familiarised us with 'Zoom Zoom'. Well, with this CX-5, the brand introduced us to its 'SKYACTIV' technology. Plus there was another buzz word for potential buyers to consider: KODO. This, we were told, is the Japanese word for 'soul of motion', the company's design theme, this CX-5 having been the first production car to embrace it. Does it work? Well the stylists were predictably enthusiastic, British design boss Peter Birtwhistle reckoning that the chromium line around the lamps and the grille represents 'a charging puma'. To our eyes, there's little of the muscle, tension and athleticism that characterised Mazda's Minagi, the concept car from which the CX-5 was developed. For all that, what we ended up with was a smart and certainly contemporary-looking Crossovery compact 4x4. And anyway, even if the shape isn't especially memorable, its aerodynamics are, an excellent drag coefficient of just 0.33cd helped by wing mirrors that are mounted directly onto the door shoulders and a rear roof-mounted wing that streamlines the flow of air over the car.
The cabin isn't as obviously 'styled' as some of its main rivals but the piano black inserts and chrome splashes look good in a low key kind of way. The materials quality is especially impressive on the upper dashboard, though not quite so eye-catching lower down with slightly lower grade panels that Mazda justified as part of this car's weight loss plan. There are certainly plenty of switches - 55 in all, not counting the chunky column stalks - but it's pretty easy to adjust to the way everything works. We could be fussy and talk about the way the USB charge socket in the centre console crushes your iPhone charge cable when you close the lid but that would be nit-picking. Ergonomically, it's all pretty sound.
As the driver, you're faced by a hooded binnacle which houses three circular dials, ahead of a lovely chunky three-spoke multi-function leather-trimmed wheel. The 5.8-inch infotainment touch screen is fairly easy to figure out, with the menus able to be accessed by the BMW iDrive-style Mazda Multimedia Commander control located between the front seats. Once you're familiar with the system, this is quicker and safer than jabbing at the touch screen when the vehicle's on the move.
And in the back? Well, like most models in this segment, this one doesn't offer a seven seat option, but the rear bench is one of the most accommodating in the class, offering more space in fact than Mazda's supposedly larger CX-7 model. Head and legroom is relatively generous, with space to stretch out aided by the fact that back seat occupants can get their feet under the front seats. As in all vehicles of this type, the middle perch is the short straw, but even here, you'll be better off than you would be in most of this car's rivals thanks to a comfy seat back and a low-set transmission tunnel.
Out back, once you've raised the rear hatch and admired a tonneau cover that neatly opens and closes together with the tailgate, you'll find a luggage bay that's the largest in the class, measuring 503-litres, a figure that extends to 1,620-litres when you drop the Karakuri rear seats. This is a three-piece independent 40:20:40 remote controlled fold-down system. The seats fold virtually flat and although there is a little intrusion from the rear suspension, it's still a hefty load bay.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most CX-5 buyers were came across in our ownership survey were enthusiastic about this car but inevitably, there were a few rogue examples; make sure you avoid them by checking out the things below on your test drive.
One owner had a problem with faulty engine injectors necessitating frequent oil changes. Another found his manual model would continually get stuck in reverse and would crunch in 1st and 2nd gear. Another found he was getting through tyres at an unreasonable rate - 3 sets in a year, the issue compounded by the fact that only two brands make tyres for a CX-5, so prices are high for replacement rubber. One owner experienced a knocking sound on full lock, an issue traced to faulty suspension mounts. And another found the iStop engine start/stop system on his car ceased to work.
Otherwise, the issues we came across were relatively minor ones. Check out the infotainment system; there were lots of reports of faulty Bluetooth connections and faulty sat nav set-ups. A lot of these issues can be solved by software updates and a larger SD card. One owner had a faulty rear parking sensor. And another found warning lights randomly coming on in the dash.
(approx based on a 2013 2.2 diesel) An air filter costs around £11-£12 and an oil filter costs in the £3 to £7 bracket. Brake pads sit in the £12 to £15 bracket for a set, though you could pay up to around £46 or even up to around £61 for a pricier brand. Brake discs can cost as little as around £70-£78, though you could pay as much as around £105 for pricier brands. Wiper blades cost in the £3 to £15 bracket. A replacement radiator is priced from around £120. A water pump costs around £105. A wing mirror glass is around £20 - and you'll pay around the same for the outer shielding.
On the Road
The key to understanding this CX-5 is getting to the bottom of what Mazda means when it uses the term 'SKYACTIV Technology'. Basically, it's Mazda's programme for radical lightweight efficiency and it debuted on this car. This claims clear benefits in terms of economy and emissions but it also means that the CX-5 is a vehicle that drives quite differently to most of its key rivals. And by 'differently', we mean better.
The entry-level petrol model weighs little more than 1,400kg - which is remarkable. To put that into perspective, a similarly-sized Land Rover Freelander weighs over 1700kgs, which means that you could sit two average sized adults and a pair of kids in a Mazda CX-5 and it would still weigh less than an empty Freelander. You'll feel that this car is light on its feet as soon as you pull away. Mazda has worked hard at reducing friction in the drivetrain and the gearbox feels light, the pedals perfectly spaced and the steering responsive.
The top range-topping diesel version offers four-wheel drive and a twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre unit putting out a healthy 175PS. With the powerplant in this form, you don't get the option of a front-wheel drive-only variant, something that so many customers for this kind of car now seem to want. Still, this is available on a model with the de-tuned 150PS version of this unit. And 2WD is the only choice if you go for the entry-level 165PS 2.0-litre petrol variant.
Like so many other things about the CX-5, the driving experience may not instantly grab you as being unique right at first: it's only when you spend some time with it that you appreciate what it can do. For a start, we can't think of any other compact 4x4 or Crossover model from this era that covers ground quite so effortlessly. The 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D engine isn't short of pulling power, but it isn't just down to that. After all, the 150PS version of this unit has, on paper at least, slightly less torque than the equivalent 150PS 2.2-litre TD4 diesel you'll find in a comparable Land Rover Freelander - but consider this. Sprint that Freelander to 62mph from a standstill and it'll take 11.7 seconds. Do the same in this Mazda and you'll get there in just 9.2 seconds - nearly 25% quicker. Now you're starting to understand why this is quite a special vehicle.
Go for the top 175PS model and 62mph is dispatched in just 8.8s on the way to 129mph, but don't despair if budget limits you to the entry-level 2.0-litre petrol version of this Mazda. This is not a car in which you have to pay top dollar to get a decent drive. Indeed, the petrol variant is possibly an even sweeter drive than the diesel, thanks to its lightweight engine, with 62mph 9.2s away from rest on the way 124mph. You do have to rev it a bit though to get to that performance, which is where the diesel models hold a slight edge, especially when it comes to overtaking prowess, something you'll find genuinely impressive when you plug it into the meat of the power band.
But it isn't the sheer straightline speed that you really remember after spending some time in this machine: it's the way it rides and responds. We'll admit it: we were sceptical when Mazda claimed they were trying to bring the spirit of their MX-5 sports car into the CX-5. This, after all, is a fairly big and tall vehicle. Once we'd tried a CX-5 though, we saw what they meant. Take the steering. It's an electric set-up, so you don't initially seem to get quite the level of feel that some of the better hydraulic systems used to have but adjust, as you can quickly, and you'll find yourself using it to place this car through corners with real precision.
This CX-5 takes them with real composure and you feel a huge amount of trust in the front end. There's not too much body roll and the car doesn't pitch about either, so you don't, for example, get a load of dive when you prod the brake pedal, nor do you get that boat-like feeling that the prow is rising when you accelerate hard away - the kind of thing that plagues a lot of other compact 4x4s that aren't quite so well tied down. There's a directness that you get at the helm and a tautness to this Mazda's responses that is unlike anything else in this class. Get out of one of these after driving hard and into a Freelander or a CR-V and you'd do well not to plough clean off the road at the first corner you come to. For keen drivers, this is the best car in its class. It's as simple as that.
Which is all well and good but, as Mazda's competitors will point out, you don't buy something from this class with the primary objective of hurling it around the lanes. So the school run basics need to be right. They are, something you notice from the moment you get behind the wheel and realise how easy it is to get a comfortable driving position. How this is one of the few 4x4s where you feel that you sit in the car, rather than being perched upon it. Though there's a bit more road and wind noise than we would like and rearward visibility can be slightly affected by the thick rear pillars, little else merits much criticism. The brakes are good and ride's supple and forgiving unless you hobble the whole set-up with a set of 19-inch alloy wheels. And the six-speed manual gearbox is a gem with a sporty feel and just the right kind of shift quality for crisp wrist-flick changes. Even the six-speed auto transmission that was optional on diesel models was developed to enhance the CX-5 driver's feeling of connectedness. Instead of that usual vague, slushy feel of an automatic when you're on and off the throttle, it genuinely does feel very direct and responsive.
And off road prowess, assuming that you're one of the minority of CX-5 customers who've opted for an all-wheel drive variant that will test it? Well, it says much that we've got this far without even mentioning that. The bar is set almost embarrassingly low in this class when it comes to ability off the beaten track, but this Mazda will be quite as capable as any of its target customers will need it to be. As with the systems employed by most of its rivals, this car has a set-up in which the torque is automatically split according to the terrain you're on, so it can direct 100% of drive to the front wheels in normal conditions, with up to 50% then directed to the rear wheels if slip is detected. There's no low-range transfer case or clever hill descent systems offered, so we wouldn't advise tackling anything much more arduous than a forest track. Think of it instead as an all-weather carry-all and you'll be nearer the mark.
The CX-5 isn't one of those cars that jumps out at you on first acquaintance. But as with many Mazdas, its modesty hides a product packed with innovation. The result is excellent packaging, class-leading economy and emissions and driving dynamics that set a new benchmark in this sector. Add in a high specification and competitive pricing and you've a compelling proposition.
Nothing less was necessary given the Japanese maker's tardiness in entering this segment. The styling may not be anything special but everything else about this car is. It's yet another example of Mazda going its own way, doing things differently. Which means? Well something quite simple really. Looking for a car of this kind? Start here first.
CX IN THE CITY 27/06/2020 17:42:00
Mazda's CX-5 isn't your typical compact SUV. June Neary puts the second generation version through its paces.
Will It Suit Me?
Big bumpers, bulging wheelarches and ferocious looking grilles were a big part of what fired 4x4 vehicles to mainstream popularity. They were a bolder choice than a conventional car with extra attitude and a youthful image that had a powerful appeal for a lot of people, even if off-road driving wasn't on their agenda.
Today, SUVs have become a lot more circumspect in the way they look and the secomd generation version of Mazda's CX-5 is a perfect example. In these more environmentally enlightened times, maintaining a lower profile is a more attractive option and 'car-like' is a quality that's increasingly highly prised. Few SUVs do car-like more effectively than this CX-5.
The CX-5 will net some sales purely on the basis of the way it looks. This MK2 model takes its cues from the 'RX Vision' concept car the brand displayed at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show and swaps the previous soft and curvy look for an altogether sharper and more mature design. This is exactly what many prospective buyers will want. The smarter exterior looks see this car get a sleeker profile and a lower roofline to underscore its solid stance and elegant proportions. Under the skin, a fully-revised body structure that's been created under the concept of what Mazda calls 'Refined Toughness'.
Take a seat at the wheel and you're treated to a master class in how it's possible to completely change the look and feel of this part of the cabin without altering any of its essential dimensions or hard points. Two things are primarily responsible for this and the first change is predictable given the fact that interior quality was one of the original CX-5 model's biggest flaws. This time round, it's a very different story, with an up-market feel that's clearly been inspired by the German brands that Mazda wants to emulate.
When I took a seat in the rear, I realised that not all mid-sized SUVs are the same. Whereas in a rival Qashqai or an Ateca (or even a slightly bigger competitor like Ford's Kuga), a couple of adults might struggle a little for comfort on a longer trip, in the back of a CX-5, you feel like you're in an environment that hasn't solely been designed around the needs of children. You can stretch out a little, with proper space for your head, leg and shoulders on the more supportive rear bench. There's a decently-sized 506-litre boot too.
Behind the Wheel
A 2.0-litre petrol engine's offered, but it's the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel that buyers tend to want, offered with either 150 or 184PS. With either diesel, you get a choice of front wheel drive or AWD and the option of auto transmission if you want it. The volume 150PS 'SKYACTIV-D' unit manages 56.5mpg and 132g/km of CO2 in front-driven, manual form. As for the dynamic improvements made this time round, well the body's 15% more rigid and Mazda's clever 'G-Vectoring Control' system has been adopting to improve cornering traction.
The CX-5 gives only the merest nod to the concept of off-road ability, preferring instead to concentrate its efforts on the tarmac ride and handling that owners will experience day to day. As I said, there's four-wheel-drive, Mazda's Active Torque-Split system, but the CX-5 is no mud-plugger. Its low ride height and lack of body protection see to that. What you do get is enhanced grip and ability in slippery conditions as the 4x4 system automatically distributes torque to the axle that can best use it. There's also fully-independent suspension to bring added finesse to the drive.
Value For Money
CX-5 customers have always received a lot of equipment for their money and nothing is set to change in that regard. Even base 'SE-L Nav' trim comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights that include LED daytime running lamps and fog lights, auto headlamps and wipers and heated power-folding mirrors, plus rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors and the brand's sophisticated 'GVC' 'G-Vectoring Control' system for extra traction through the turns.
Inside, the primary feature is a standard 7-inch centre-dash 'MZD-Connect' colour touchscreen incorporating satellite navigation, integrated Bluetooth, a 6-speaker DAB audio system and app integration for internet radio, Facebook and Twitter, plus you get the usual USB and iPod ports. Other interior features include dual-zone climate control, leather for the gearknob and the multi-function steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and a 40-20-40 split rear seat backrest for the reclinable rear seat.
Could I Live With One?
I have a lot of time for the CX-5 and that's coming from someone who can generally take or leave SUVs. Its focus on on-road driving suits me fine and it looks good too, which is always a help.