By Ian Strachan
Over the last few years manufacturers have been falling over themselves to turn out cars which defy pigeon-holing in any particular sector, combining the attributes of at least two market sectors writes Ian Strachan.
Mazda is no exception and the Japanese firm’s compact crossover is the recently restyled, attractive-looking CX-5, which combines the performance and handling of a sports car with the stability and size of a compact sports utility available in two or four wheel drive.
The result is an adept vehicle with a tough appearance and a stable ride. It’s also a good towing vehicle and has won awards for its towing abilities.
The new Mazda CX-5 is powered by a potent but supremely quiet direct injection turbo-charged 2.2 litre diesel engine delivering brisk, sporty performance. The front-wheel drive version which I tested has a more-than-adequate 150 bhp output. The capable four wheel drive version pumps out a bit more power, up-rated to 175 bhp.
The CX-5 uses electronics which combine advanced engine, transmission and chassis technology to improve efficiency and environmental performance. So you can safely buy this vehicle without putting the planet at risk, even in 4×4 set-up.
The CX-5 handles remarkably well for its size, with an intelligent drive system backed up with long travel independent suspension. Cornering is sure footed with no body roll, and the suspension set up ensures a comfortable ride. The car is exceptionally well put together and feels solid.
The engine provides decent performance throughout the speed range, delivering power smoothly but with plenty of mid-range pull. It’s helped by a pleasant-to-use six speed manual transmission.
Performance engines in big cars often have a penalty with unimpressive fuel consumption. However, this Mazda manages a respectable 56.5 mpg in mixed driving. The Mazda’s frugality is appreciated, as filling the big 58 litre tank can be an expensive exercise.
The interior is well laid out and spacious with plenty of room for five adults. The large luggage area can be further improved with the ability to fold the three rear seats flat.
Equipment levels are generous. Standard features on this version include smart 17 inch alloys, a good DAB radio with MP3 compatibility and iPod connection, a clear navigation system with a seven-inch colour touchscreen display, steering wheel-mounted controls, keyless entry and ignition, front and rear parking sensors, an excellent dual-zone climate control system, and electric windows all round. You also get automatic cruise control and rain sensing wipers.
This is a solid and enjoyable vehicle that doesn’t look out of place on a suburban driveway and at £25,695 won’t break the bank. This is a good, well-specified vehicle which is a pleasure to drive, and undercuts many of its rivals without sacrificing quality.