Mazda CX-5 2.2D review
Mazda's CX-5 is a stylish option in the popular mid-sized SUV market, but one that can easily be overlooked by potential buyers. The likes of VW's Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai often top the sales charts in this sector, but the first generation CX-5 became the pick for those 'in the know'. NGC tests the second-generation CX-5 2.2D 150ps version to see if it earns its stripes as the clever choice.
Review by Chris Lilly
There is a range of petrol and diesel engines available, but the one fitted to the test model is likely to be a core specification for the range. A 2.2 litre 150 hp diesel with power going to the front wheels offers a good blend between performance and economy. With a 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds it's not going to bother any sports cars, but the CX-5 is far from sluggish. The 380 Nm of torque available helps shift the SUV along at a reasonable lick, and it is easy to make quick progress when on an open road. There is never a hint of the CX-5 being underpowered, even fully laden with a family and assorted paraphernalia. A six-speed automatic transmission is available, but it is the six-speed manual that was fitted to the test car. It's a good pick, with an easy but relatively short throw. The engine/powertrain combination is a fine one, and works well both in town and out of built up areas. For a large car, the CX-5 will nip out of junctions with surprising ease thanks to the slug of torque available at low revs. It is happier when on the motorway or an A-road though, when you can just let the refined engine take the strain.
The first-generation CX-5 was one of the picks of the market in terms of handling, and this latest version not only carries that reputation over but improves on it too. The SUV has very little body roll when cornering, surprising considering the car's height and size. It has plenty of grip too, meaning the Mazda can be an enjoyable drive when the mood takes and situation allows. Crucially, Mazda hasn't tried to make the CX-5 sporty, so the suspension remains supple enough to cruise comfortably on the motorway, and deal with uneven road surfaces at slower speeds too. Able to offer an entertaining drive though means it's not the most comfortable of SUVs around, but only those looking for maximum waft potential will be put off by the CX-5's suspension set-up - it's a well balanced approach from Mazda's engineers. The steering is similarly set-up, with enough weight and feedback at speed to let drivers know what's going on beneath the wheels. It's light at slower speeds though, making urban driving easier. Again, there are better options for tackling the urban jungle, but the CX-5 has been pitched well as an SUV for buyers that enjoy driving.
Mazda has a great design language flowing through its products at the moment, and its concepts indicate that that trend is only going to continue for a while yet. The CX-5 - as the largest model in the range - could have been a weak spot in terms of styling, but the designers have avoided such pitfalls. It's a handsome car, particularly for a big SUV, and is a clean, classy design that will only bring additional buyers to the brand. The details added to the surfacing and key features are genuinely excellent, and the CX-5 is right towards the top of the SUV style league if nothing else. The well-proportioned SUV is a practical one too, even if doesn't compete with the class leaders in terms of practicality. Skoda's Kodiaq and the Peugeot 5008 will offer more space for similar costs, but these are two of the most practical family cars on the market currently. Instead, the CX-5 picks up good, rather than top, points for interior space. Boot space will be plenty big enough for most, and swallows a pushchair plus luggage with ease. Rear seats will accommodate three adults at a push, though they would be best off slender of shoulder. Four adults, or two and three children, fit nicely in the CX-5, with space behind for kit. That's thanks to ample leg and head room in the back.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
There are more stylish cabins on the market, but the CX-5 does a good job anyway. The only point against it in my opinion is the relatively small infotainment screen. This is compared to some rivals, but at least the Mazda unit is easy to use thanks to a dial and button combo on the transmission tunnel. It's simple to navigate menus too, and the graphics are of decent quality. The rest of the cabin scores more highly, and is a comfortable place in which to sit. The quality of materials used makes the CX-5 feel almost like a premium product, and the build quality feels good across the board. The driver gets a great steering wheel to use, and some clear dials set a little back in the binnacle. Again, the CX-5 isn't as high tech as some competitors, but at least the analogue set-up has been designed well. If you're going to keep it simple, make sure you do it right, I suppose.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Mazda has resisted downsizing its engines, a ploy taken up with gusto by basically every other manufacturer. As such, the official economy figures lag behind those rival units, with an official NEDC test figure of 56.5 MPG a little behind the class leaders. However, I found it easier to get close to the official figures than in a number of other models driven. The average for my time with it was 48.5 MPG according to the trip computer, that after about 550 miles and a variety of driving styles and routes. CO2 emissions of 132 g/km for the CX-5 tested means the standard rate VED will cost owners £140 per year. The first year rate will cost £200, though this will change with the new tax year - and dramatically so. New diesel regulations will see the CX-5 taxed at a band above its actual CO2 emissions figures, which in the case means £515. However, all first year rates - both current and forthcoming - are included in a car's OTR.
Mazda's Skyactiv technology is present on both petrol and diesel units, which in this case has improved - in diesel's case lower - compression ratios and low friction components to boost efficiency. The CX-5 is fitted with auto stop-start to reduce emissions in heavy traffic. The Mazda also has a number of statistics pages available to help coach the driver into driving more economically. There's a fuel economy monitor, and i-stop history showing how long the engine has been cut when stationary, and the corresponding range increase. Fuel economy graphs for both the current trip and historically allow drivers to track fuel usage too, and there is a gear shift indicator to suggest the optimum gear to be in at any one time. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 46.
Keeping things simple, Mazda offers just two trim levels, with good levels of kit available for both. SE-L Nav is fitted with 17-inch alloys, privacy glass, automatic wipers and headlights, LED auto-levelling headlights, front & rear parking sensors, leather trimmed wheel and gear knob, keyless entry and start, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and 7-inch infotainment system with navigation, DAB, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrading to Sport Nav adds 19-inch alloys, a powered tailgate, sunroof, reversing camera, leather seats, electric driver's seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, wiper de-icer, and Bose sound system.
The family SUV market is a congested one, with some great options available for buyers - and the Mazda CX-5 is well worthy of consideration even amongst tough competition. There are few - if any - models in the class that offer as good a driving experience as the CX-5, and practical considerations such as fuel economy and practicality will be more than good enough for most buyers. It's stylish, fun to drive, fairly economical, and a characterful model that sits between mainstream and premium options.
Model tested: Mazda CX-5 2.2D 150hp 2WD Sport Nav
Engine / CO2: 2.2 litre diesel / 132 g/km
Trim grades: SE-L Nav and Sport Nav
On-road price: From £28,695
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars