Sharp Mazda CX-5 a compelling package

20 December 2018
Bob Nettleton | The Star, Dunedin

Mazda CX-5 Rating out of 10: Performance 7 Handling 7 Build quality 8 Comfort 7 Space 7 Fuel Economy: Rightcarwebsite rating Petrol 6.4L/100km, on road test average consumption 7.8L/100km Value for money 6 Safety: Five-star Ancap crash rating.

Overall points out of 10: 7.5 Underlining Mazda's commitment to constant improvement and always striving to do things better, has helped it along the road to becoming a highly respected brand on our new-car market.

A good example of this is the upgrading of one of their most popular SUV, the CX-5. The current model made its debut here in 2017 and enjoyed the same enthusiastic response as its popular predecessor. While a relative newcomer the "we can do better attitude" of Mazda has seen this model revamped with several engine upgrades, and re-engineered for even greater efficiency and responsiveness. When combined with new safety technology and improved specification levels, it makes the CX-5 an even more compelling SUV package.

A lower centre of gravity, shorter overhangs and wider front and rear tracks make the CX-5 one of the sharper lookers in its class. It's helped in this regard by a distinctive front end with a lower and wider grille and sleek LED headlamps. All models continue with the proven SKYACTIV-Drive automatic.

There are six models on offer starting at $39,995 for the 2.0-litre 2WD GLX petrol and $42,995 in mid-range GSX guise. The GSX steps up to AWD when teamed with the 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel that retail for $46,245 and $48,495 respectively. This same engine combo is offered in the flagship model Limited. The petrol model provided for this road test is priced at $55,745 with a modest $2000 premium for the turbo diesel.

Powering the Limited model I test drove with its 140kW 2.5-litre petrol SKYACTIV-G engine was a lively enough driving proposition. A major point-of-difference between this motor and those found in its rivals is a clever cylinder deactivation system, to reduce fuel consumption when driving at constant cruising speeds.

The outside two cylinders can shut down when the vehicle is operated at steady speeds between 40kmh and 80kmh, but all four cylinders work instantaneously when needed for maximum power. With its effortless real-world driving performance, and brisk acceleration, even from the low revs, the motor revels when put to work over hilly and undulating roads. This is yet another in a long line of quality engines we've come to expect from Mazda and they rarely disappoint.

The smooth shifting sixspeed SKYACTIV-Drive transmission did all that was asked of it. A modern and contemporary cabin looks modern and sharp, less endearing is the dark and dour cabin colour scheme. The elevated driving position is good and so too are the panoramic views the driver enjoys. There isn't an abundance of cabin space compared to other models in this class, and taller back seat passengers will lament the lack of rear head and leg room.

The Limited is fitted with an impressive array of safety features headed up by i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies. These include Autonomous Emergency Braking-Advanced Smart City Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring and Traffic Sign Recognition. Exclusive to the Limited is Lane Departure Warning, Driver Attention Alert, a good tool for raising driver awareness of fatigue and Radar Cruise Control. This always ensures a safe distance between the CX-5 and the vehicle in front.

The CX-5 has a well-earned reputation for exceptional roadholding over a range of roads and in all weather. The adoption of G-VECTORING Control on this latest model provides even crisper handling and a more compliant ride by providing more cohesive chassis control. Sweeping corners or tight bends that wear their poor road surfaces and alignment like a badge, couldn't shake the composure of the test vehicle's suspension. The Active Torque Split AWD is computercontrolled, constantly monitoring wheel speed and engine data to provide traction when and where it's needed, and all in an instant. This along with accurate and responsive steering take the driveability of the CX-5 to new heights.

BT-50 commercialcare disclaimer

** is also available to new BT-50 owners where every scheduled service completed by Mazda specialist technicians for a 3 year/100,000km term (whichever wherever occurs first) will cost no more than $200 (incl. GST) per service for models built after 1 November 2012. *** 3,350kg applies to earlier models.

* whichever occurs first