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First Drive: Mazda CX-5

Refinement and technology improvements are at the heart of Mazda’s revisions, says Dan Gilkes.

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SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £23,695-£33,195 FUEL: 34.5-47mpg CO2: 132-159g/kmMazda has updated the CX-5 crossover, focusing on a premium cabin environment and upgraded technology. Though visually similar to its predecessor, the new CX-5 is 10mm longer and 35mm lower. The bonnet is 100mm longer and the A-pillar has been pulled back by 35mm to improve visibility. A far more structural front end, with thinner LED headlights, that highlight the 3D look of the grille and Mazda badging, complete the look.

There is far more change inside, where the smooth dash stretches the full width of the car, only interrupted by a new 7-inch multi-information display that sits at the top. A new steering wheel design and revised switchgear complete the look, while both driver and passengers benefit from updated heated seating front and rear.

A new Active Driving Display head-up system projects speed and navigation information directly onto the windscreen, rather than onto the fold-up screen of the previous generation car, while the glass itself now features heating elements beneath the wipers. At the rear the CX-5 is available with a powered tailgate for the first time.

There are three engines, including a SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre petrol engine that develops 163bhp (158bhp with all-wheel drive) and returns a best of 44mpg with 149g/km of CO2. Around 84% of UK buyers will however choose between the two SkyActiv-D 2.2-litre engines, available with 148bhp or 173bhp. The lower powered motor offers 56mpg and 132g/km in two-wheel drive manual form, while the 173bhp engine returns a best of 52mpg and 142g/km of CO2.

All come with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions and the two lower powered motors can be specified with front or all-wheel drive. The 173bhp engine is AWD only. In the previous model, 78% of UK buyers went with the manual gearbox and 66% opted for two-wheel drive.

The CX-5’s body shell torsional rigidity has been improved by 15% which, in combination with revised steering and suspension, plus the adoption of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control system, lead to improved handling and ride comfort. G-Vectoring Control monitors the steering and throttle position when entering a corner under power, momentarily reducing torque to increase grip and steering precision.

Increased body rigidity also plays a part in reducing noise, vibration and harshness in the cabin, making the CX-5 a considerably quieter place to spend the day, though the diesel engines still make their presence felt under hard acceleration.

Mazda UK has simplified the CX-5 offer, with just SE-L Nav and the slightly more popular Sport Nav trim levels. The only options are paint colour and a safety pack. Mazda’s MZD Connect system expands on the mobile connectivity already present in other Mazda cars, including Bluetooth, e-mail and SMS integration with the navigation and audio system. Optional connected services will make additional live features available, such as traffic updates and access to fuel pricing on route.

The Mazda Radar Cruise Control system has been upgraded and will now bring the car to a halt, rather than cutting out at 30km/h, so the system can be used in stop/start traffic. Traffic Sign recognition is available for the first time on the CX-5, along with Smart City Brake Support.

Launched in 2012, the CX-5 has been a big success, with more than 32,000 sold in the UK, of which 44% went to fleets. Emissions aren’t the lowest in the class, but with considerable upgrades in terms of equipment and interior ambiance the CX-5 should remain a popular choice with crossover buyers.What we think

Mazda may not be following the general trend to downsize engines, but the focus on refinement and equipment has certainly made the CX-5 a more desirable car.

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Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.