Mazda CX-5 First Drive Review

Caroline reports from the international press launch in Barcelona

2017 Mazda CX-5
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 will arrive in Ireland in June

The Mazda CX-5 SUV first appeared in 2012 and quickly established itself as one of the core models of Mazda’s range, accounting for 25% of the company’s global annual sales. Now in 2017, Mazda is launching a new generation of CX-5 that sees significant changes under the skin and in styling, interior design and technology. I travelled to Barcelona, Spain to drive the new CX-5.

Styling

The new Mazda CX-5 has been significantly redesigned for a sharper and sleeker appearance. The front-end now has a more confident stance borne from a large grille and slim headlamps. The roof line has been lowered and the C-pillar tapers beautifully to the rear, which has also been redesigned for a more modern and dynamic appearance.  The new Mazda CX-5 comes with 17” or 19” alloys depending on specification and there is a choice of nine body colours including Soul Red Crystal and Machine Grey Metallic, both new for 2017.

Interior

The interior of the new Mazda CX-5 is comfortable, spacious and very stylish. The horizontal design is elegant and the materials used are of excellent quality. The two tone interiors look very premium. There are plenty of soft touch materials and newly developed decorative panels in the dashboard. Infotainment is provided via a new 7” centre display on the top of the dash that is controlled via a rotary controller on the centre console. This screen is designed to suppress reflections and present a clearer image. The front and rear seats have also been revised to provide better comfort. New equipment includes a power tailgate, heated steering wheel and a head-up display.

2017 Mazda CX-5
The interior of the new Mazda CX-5

Practicality

The Mazda CX-5 will seat five in comfort. The new car is 10mm longer than the car it replaces and 35mm lower. The wheelbase remains the same and the interior still feels spacious for this class of vehicle. Boot space has been boosted to 506 litres.

Engines

In Ireland, the new CX-5 will be available with the 2.0-litre petrol with 165hp and the 2.2-litre diesel with 150 or 175hp. The petrol model is front wheel drive only and comes with a six speed manual gearbox. The 2.2-litre diesel is available in front and all wheel drive form, and with a manual or automatic gearbox. The 2.2-litre 150hp diesel FWD model is the best for economy returning up to 56mpg with a manual gearbox. Motor tax for this model is €280 per year. At the launch, I drove the 2.0-litre petrol and the 2.2-litre 175hp diesel. The petrol engine is smooth and quiet, though its 210Nm of torque is no match for the torquier diesels. The 2.2-litre 175hp diesel is a strong and flexible operator, and very refined.

On the road

Key to Mazda’s engineering philosophy is ‘Jinba-Ittai’, which is a Japanese word describing the synergy between horse and rider. The body rigidity has been stiffened by 15%  and the steering, suspension and brakes have been revised.  Mazda has also introduced G-Vectoring Control to the CX-5 for the first time, as seen on the Mazda 3 and 6, which adds more stability in cornering. The new Mazda CX-5 is an agile and engaging drive, with plenty of grip and well-weighted steering. Refinement has been notably improved and the cabin is now a very serene place to travel in.

Equipment

There are three trim levels for new Mazda CX-5 in Ireland – Executive, Executive SE and Platinum. The Executive model comes with LED headlamps, 7” colour screen display, Smart City Brake Support, 17” alloys, keyless entry, cruise control, electric windows, air con and electronic parking brake. The Executive SE model adds dual zone climate control, lumbar support, digital radio, parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, LED rear lights and front fog lights. Top of the range Platinum models add rear view camera, heated steering wheel and front seats, leather upholstery, Bose stereo, heads-up display, 19” alloys and an electric tailgate.

2017 Mazda CX-5
The new Mazda CX-5 sees improvements in refinement, styling and tech

Pricing

The new Mazda CX-5 range starts at €28,995 including delivery charges for the 2.0-litre 150hp 2WD model. Executive SE models start from €30,495 and Platinum models from €34,295. Diesels start from €31,495. All wheel drive models start from €35,995.

Rivals

Competition for the new Mazda CX-5 includes the Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

Verdict

Mazda has treated this new generation of the CX-5 as more of a refining exercise than one of dramatic change or new direction. But it’s worked and they’ve taken a good SUV and made it more desirable. Though the compact SUV segment is huge, the Mazda CX-5 stands out for its engaging driving dynamics, premium-feeling interior and stand-out exterior styling.

The new Mazda CX-5 SUV will arrive in Ireland in early June 2017.

Caroline Kidd

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