Do you know what Jinba-Ittai is? It’s a Japanese word to describe the synergy between horse and rider and engineers at Mazda think they can emulate this feeling behind the wheel of a car. Jinba-Ittai is certainly a guiding principle for Mazda along with KODO – Soul of Motion design. In simple language, if Mazda engineers execute these two principles well, they have a chance to create a great looking car and a great driving car. Which brings us to this week’s review – the Mazda CX-5 SUV.

For 2017, there hasn’t been a revolution of what is already a very successful offering for Mazda, so far accounting for 25% of global Mazda sales since its introduction in 2012. The second generation of the Mazda CX-5 has been redesigned under the concept of ‘Refined Toughness’. Major revision is the name of the game here.

As such, the Mazda CX-5 is wearing a sharp new suit, and looks all the better for it. The front end now has more presence. The car looks slimmer and more elegant, while retaining the essence of ‘soul of motion’ Mazda design language.  There are two new colours: Soul Red Crystal Metallic and Machine Grey Metallic.

Inside the interior has a simple horizontal design with a high quality finish. The two tone interiors look particularly 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. It feels slightly old-fashioned in light of the touchscreens you will find in rivals, but it’s neat looking and works perfectly well.  New equipment for 2017 includes a power tailgate, heated steering wheel and a head-up display.

2017 Mazda CX-5 Review Ireland
The interior of the 2017 Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 will seat five in comfort, though the transmission tunnel does eat into the middle passenger’s legroom. 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.

In Ireland, the Mazda CX-5 is available with a 2.0-litre petrol with 165hp and a 2.2-litre diesel with 150 or 175hp. All wheel drive and an automatic gearbox is available on diesel models. Diesel tends to dominate in this segment but a petrol engine would make sense for an urban driver. I test drove the 2.0-litre petrol model that comes as standard in front wheel drive and with a 6 speed manual gearbox and it is overwhelmingly very smooth and very quiet. Out of town, you miss the torquier diesels, but get the revs up and the 2.0 petrol is not slow. Over a mixture of roads, I returned 39 mpg. The 2.2-litre 150hp diesel FWD model is the best for economy returning up to 56mpg with a manual gearbox.

For a large SUV, the Mazda CX5 is not cumbersome to drive, even with the standard 6 speed manual gearbox. It feels light and agile on the road with well weighted steering, lots of grip and well contained body roll through the corners. The torsional body rigidity is 15% stiffer than the outgoing model, and refinements to the steering, suspension and brakes, plus the introduction of G-Vectoring Control make the car even more responsive. The Mazda CX-5 is well damped and comfortable across a variety of road surfaces, and sound insulation has been improved, giving premium levels of refinement.

The new Mazda CX-5 range starts at €28,995 for an Executive model. Executive SE models start from €30,495 and Platinum models from €34,295. All wheel drive models start from €35,995. Standard equipment includes LED headlamps, 7” colour screen display, Smart City Brake Support, 17” alloys, keyless entry, cruise control, electric windows, air con and electronic parking brake.

2017 Mazda CX-5 Review Ireland
Mazda has made significant revisions to the Mazda CX-5 SUV to make it even more desirable

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.

You will find a slew of models close to the Mazda CX-5 in price that follow a similar five seat SUV blueprint.

But few are as desirable as the CX-5 for design, interior finish and an engaging drive. The Mazda CX-5 makes a compelling and good value choice in its price range.

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.

Model tested: Mazda CX-5 2.0 SKYACTIV-G Platinum
Price: €34,295 (Range starts at €28,995)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Torque: 210Nm
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 201km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for an SUV, you might also like this review of the Volkswagen Tiguan.