19 July 2012, under
Car / Travel; More Car / Travel articles...
CX5 - exterior
CX5 - interior
CX5 - rear
MAZDA IS A LOYALTY BRAND
I was especially interested in trying out this week's review car, because my son in New York recently bought one, trading in the family Mazda6 for a CX-5. Reluctantly, but necessarily because of the arrival of their first-born and all the lifestyle shift that entails.
Turns out they're quite thrilled with the car now. Ticks all the practical boxes, plus it's a Mazda because they didn't want any other brand.
The CX-5 is Mazda getting into a fast-growing segment here and across Europe. The company doesn't muck around with 'crossover' stuff, are quite happy to call it an SUV. A compact one, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's a space or size compromise.
Because the CX-5 is a fairly big car when you stand outside it. There's a high front, a tall stance, and a big tailgate. And inside there's room for five quite big people, with more leg and headroom in the rear than you'll get in many a larger category car.
The style is substantial, and very Mazda in its current 'Kodo' mood. 'Soul of Motion' that translates to, looking like it's always flowing on even when stopped. Or something. I'm never sure about how much the Japanese try to deflect us with ethosical phrases.
Much more important is the underlying technology. The CX-5 may be a substantial beast in its class but it is also the lightest. Mazda has been going the weight-shaving route for some time in its quest for economy. It seems to work, and again without compromise because in my time with it the car always felt solid.
They've been working the engines too, and the power available is high while fuel economy is good. So for the review car, the 2.2 diesel Sport, a 61+mpg equivalent is achievable, with the car in Band A for Irish tax purposes. Not bad at all for a 150hp motor, and a 175hp option due later in the year will also be in that category.
That latter engine will be offered with 4WD, which tells you straight away that the review one is FWD. And for most of the family purposes at which the car is aimed, that's really all you need. There's enough electronic safety stuff on board all the CX-5s to keep you on the straight and narrow in virtually all weather conditions.
As a family car option it has to be flexible. And it is. The people space I've already mentioned, but there's 503 litres of volume for cargo as well. And if you want to lug more stuff, the flat-folding rear seats offer up to 1,620 litres in total.
Those same seats have three options of folding, and there are really neat 'pulls' just inside the rear hatch to flip them with just a finger.
Standard in this version, which is the one they plan to sell most of, are sat-nav, Bluetooth, cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, and more.
Inside fit and finish is solid, but in the review car there was rather too much black for my taste. And though the main instruments are clear, I'd like to see some colour in them, just to cheer me on a long grey daytime journey.
I'm not impressed either with the console-mounted 'fiddler' for managing the various functions of radio and sat-nav. Too Audi, too distracting. HMI needs work ('human/machine interface').
But the drive is good. Very good, in fact. Long distances will be travelled in very comfortable order, and the high viewpoint is relaxing. You don't generally throw these kind of cars around, but I expect it is very throwable nevertheless. And the 150 horses in the review version provided a satisfyingly punchy acceleration.
It's a hotly contested segment, with Ford's Kuga, the various VW brands offerings like the Tiguan as well as the highly competitive Korean ix35 and Sportage players, and of course Nissan's runaway (in sales terms) Qashqai. But Mazda buyers want to buy Mazda and aren't easily deflected. While the new car is a tempting option for those who might be looking at those other brands. So I expect to see a significant number of these around when the 2013 selling season gets going.
The price range is €25,195-€34,895. The review car is €29,495. I've said it before: forget the unfair bad press that SUVs got in the last few years of the Greens, they are possibly the most efficient and competent family cars around. Especially in this segment.
And take a spin in a CX-5. There are reasons why people buy Mazdas, and I think this is one which will bring more of them to the brand.
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