Road Test: Mazda CX-5 2WD 150hp Sport Nav
Mazda’s game-changer gets its heaviest update yet. By Alex Grant.
SECTOR Medium SUV PRICE £28,695 FUEL 56.5mpg CO2 132g/km
Mazda ushered in a new era with the original CX-5. The first with the Skyactiv Technology chassis and drivetrains under a fresh family design, it was an SUV with hatchback-like handling and genuine real-world fuel economy to shout about. It almost doubled the brand’s fleet sales in its first year on sale, and more than 32,000 were sold in the UK during its time on sale.
Subtle evolution tends to be a Mazda trait but, after a couple of minor revisions to keep the old car up to date, the new one launched last year, adopting the shark-nosed styling of the CX-3 and with heavy updates to the components underneath. If recent concept cars are anything to go by, it’s the sort of sharply-creased generational advance you can expect to see mirrored on the Mazda3 and Mazda6, which age suggests are not too far away.
Around half of the chassis components are new this time around, with lower suspension, widened front and rear track, and a stiffer structure behind it all. The old CX-5 had been one of the best driver’s cars in its class, and this does nothing to dent that reputation, feeling almost as light and precise as a Mazda3. That’s helped by technology which automatically reduces engine torque going into a corner, shifting the weight and grip to the front axle and then winding it back on again as it goes through the curve.
At just over 4.5 metres in length, this is still one of the largest cars in the segment, which makes that agility even more impressive. Cabin space is predictably generous and the boot volume, almost unchanged compared to its predecessor, is equally capacious with a wide tailgate and large, flat load area. It feels familiar from the old car; quite firm-riding, though not uncomfortable, but noticeably quieter at motorway speeds.
Sport Nav is the higher of the two trim levels on the new model, adding larger wheels, keyless entry, heated leather upholstery and a powered tailgate to a standard equipment list that already includes LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and satellite navigation. It feels solidly built and well finished inside, but the infotainment system feels a generation behind rivals; it’s not overly intuitive to use, and doesn’t have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, even as an option.
The engine line-up is unchanged from the outgoing car, which means there’s still no low-power 1.5-litre diesel as offered in the Mazda3 and CX-3. So the most efficient option is the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel tested here, upgraded for more precise responses and lower noise levels. The automatic gearbox is a £1,700 option, but bumps CO2 up to 147g/km – thankfully, the six-speed manual is an absolute pleasure to use, with short throws and a lever moved closer to the wheel, a little like the MX-5.
It’s a strong performer, too, with plenty of pulling power throughout the rev range and fuel economy close to brochure figures, though it never feels overly eager like Mazda’s petrol engines do. Unusually, for a relatively large diesel engine, there’s also no exhaust aftertreatment to meet the Euro emissions standards, which means there’s no AdBlue refills to worry about. It’s an evolution rather than a revolution – despite the heavy restyle – but with plenty of reasons to take a fresh look.
What We Think:
The CX-5 puts the best bits of Mazda’s sports cars into a capacious SUV bodyshell – but it’s let down a little by the dated infotainment system. Especially at this price point.