Mazda CX 5 Reviewed: An Even Firmer Favourite

A renovated CX-5, already the country’s favourite SUV, arrives this week packing among other things a bigger boot and upgraded safety.

There is a slight $800 price rise at the bottom end but Mazda Australia says it has increased value, from the basic manual Maxx at $28,690 to the fully loaded Akera diesel auto at $49,990.

There is also a new model, the Touring, to close the previous $7600 gap between the Maxx Sport and Akera.

At first glance, the CX-5 looks almost identical to the first generation but a closer look shows a bolder nose, more definition to the flanks and a dashboard that’s cleaner and easier to use.

It’s slightly longer and wider with a little more usable space inside and a lower rear-seat position, as well as a 40-20-40 split rear seat back.

2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5Source:Supplied

The technology matches the class standard, with a seven-inch infotainment display. It’s good to see a USB port in the back and rear-seat vents on all but the basic car.

Most materials appear to have been upgraded as Mazda tries to stretch the car into territory occupied by European luxury candidates including the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, even though its obvious opponent is the Volkswagen Tiguan, last year’s Carsguide Car of the Year.

“The goal was to make the next-generation CX-5 one class above,” says Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak.

“We wanted to evolve the areas where people thought we had done well and improve in areas where we needed some attention.”

Three engine options remain — 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel — with front and all-wheel drive. The individual model count goes up to 12 choices, all below $50,000.

The CX-5 is yet to be crash tested but Mazda is confident it will continue with five stars and it says the “real world” fuel economy is improved by more than 4 per cent.

Its popularity is reflected in its 115,000 sales in Australia to date and the objective is to continue deliveries at about 2000 a month — this should be easy at first as more than 13,000 people have registered interest in the newcomer.

The Maxx Sport will be most popular with about one-third of sales. Surprisingly, the basic Maxx is predicted to be the least popular.

ON THE ROAD

One word sums up the new CX-5: refined. It’s slightly more refined in the way it looks, noticeably more refined in the cabin and much more refined in the way it drives.

Prices start in the high-$20,000 bracket but as a competitor for similar-sized European SUVs the model could easily justify a price tag $20,000 higher.

2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5Source:Supplied

Complaints first: there is still no digital speedometer in the basic Maxx and Mazda sticks with a space-saver spare limited to 80km/h. I would also like paddle-shifters on the steering wheel to encourage the six-speed auto along.

The majority of my time is spent in the most popular variant, the Maxx Sport 2.5 auto — and it’s a very good thing. The engine is definitely more responsive than the base 2.0 and the gearbox is smooth.

It’s noticeably quieter, thanks to a thicker windscreen and extra sound deadening — far quieter than the previous CX-5 and more like the larger CX-9. That’s a familiar theme — Mazda’s improvements from the bigger model carry over to the mid-sizer.

It’s not the sharpest SUV on a twisting road, lagging behind the Tiguan, but the ride comfort is excellent and that’s more important.

Among the details, interiors look and feel more classy, the rear seat back can recline slightly and the boot is considerably bigger — up by 39L. My big bag slides easily into the boot where it would have needed to go sideways in the previous CX-5.

The CX-5 also passes my personal test, as the door linings in the back are soft-touch plastic and not the hard scratchy stuff hidden in most price fighters. Rear air vents in the Maxx Sport are a gratifying inclusion, I like the feel of the leather-wrapped wheel rim and the quality in little things such as the sun-visors.

Moving up to the Akera diesel, mostly to see how the noise control work has gone, the white leather trim pleases and there is a proper head-up instrument display instead of the cheaper flip-up plastic screen in lesser models. It is truly quiet, yet still with the solid diesel surge that makes it the load carrier in the family.

2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5Source:Supplied

I also like the auto-hold on the brakes — effectively a hill-start assist for flat ground — but would like more adjustment in the steering column. Some people might also complain that the steering is too light.

Safety basics are right — auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera and rear cross-traffic alert.

Available tech includes speed-sign recognition, higher-speed auto braking, radar cruise control, front and rear parking radar, and driver attention alert.

VERDICT ★★★★½

It’s going to take a head-to-head contest with the Tiguan and the all-new Honda CR-V due in about three months to see which takes the mid-size SUV title.

Meanwhile, the CX-5 is all I expect and a little more — so it jumps straight to the lead in this torrid competition.

2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5Source:Supplied

WHAT’S NEW?

PRICE

The base price is up by $800 to $28,690 but Mazda claims more than $2000 extra value across the board. All models are below $50,000; popular Maxx Sport starts at $34,390.

EQUIPMENT

The Maxx is nothing special despite its seven-inch infotainment screen but the Maxx Sport adds satnav and dual-zone aircon with rear vents. Higher spec variants add traffic-sign recognition, leather trim, 10-speaker Bose audio, LED headlamps and lane-keep assistance.

PERFORMANCE

There is nothing new to report from the engine room, as the emphasis is on more response and not extra power or torque from the petrol engines and diesel. Mazda says it has improved the “real world” economy, not the showroom sticker, by nearly 5 per cent.

DRIVING

The new CX-5 is quieter at all speeds in all conditions, thanks to upgraded materials, extra sound deadening and, to cut road noise, revised rubber. The steering is light, the ride is compliant and controlled but it’s not remotely sporty.

DESIGN

It takes time (or a side-by-side comparison with the outgoing CX-5) to see the extent of the styling changes. The nose differs and the sides are more sculpted. The dash is cleaner, materials are improved in most areas and the boot is bigger.

AT A GLANCE

MAZDA CX-5

PRICE From $28,690

WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km

CAPPED SERVICING $1395 for 3 years

SERVICE INTERVALS 12 months/10,000km

SAFETY Not yet tested

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 114kW/200Nm; 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 140kW/251Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 129kW/420Nm

TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD/AWD

THIRST 6.0L-7.5L/100km

DIMENSIONS 4550mm (L), 1840mm (W), 1675mm (H), 2700mm (WB)

WEIGHT From 1511kg

SPARE Space-saver

TOWING 1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked

Source : https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/new-cars/mazda-cx5-reviewed-an-even-firmer-favourite/news-story/acfd429fa2cdce9ddfead90169a8c799

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