The Mazda CX-5 has been one of the best mainstream SUVs since its launch in 2012. It has entered a market filled with talent – from Kia’s Sportage to Ford’s Kuga – and has brought its own set of attributes.
It was more spacious than its rivals, it performed well for an SUV, and its clever design made it stand out from the crowd.
Nine years later, the second generation Mazda CX-5 has just been refreshed at mid-life. The already good appearance has been changed very slightly, while inside is a larger and sharper screen. Another change is the option of a 2.5-liter gasoline engine as an alternative to the 2.0-liter gasoline and 2.2-liter diesel that CX-5 buyers are familiar with.
This comes with 194bhp and turns the Mazda CX-5 into a pretty quick beast, with 0-62mph coming in in 9.2 seconds. Intelligent Cylinder Activation Technology means it shuts off two of the four cylinders when cruising speed is reached to improve fuel economy. The result is an average of 35.5 mpg – not bad for a big four-wheel drive car.
I spent a week with this flagship 2.5-liter all-wheel drive engine in a premium GT Sport finish.
Spacious and elegant interior
The interior layout is centered on a 10.25-inch screen. Unlike the majority of the competition, this is not a touchscreen. You will push it and push it in vain. Instead, you operate the controls using a downward rotating dial in the center console.
Some people may like touch screens, but I much prefer this style of control. It’s more tactile, you can use it without taking your eyes off the road, and you won’t accidentally turn off the GPS instead of changing radio stations because you hit a bump in the road.
Not that bumps in the road are a big deal for the CX-5. One of its greatest strengths is its suspension. It drives wonderfully, making imperfect roads as smooth as pool tables. The smooth ride is combined with excellent noise cancellation. At 70 mph, the CX-5’s cabin is exceptionally quiet, making it a fantastic car for long journeys.
Another great strength of Mazda is its space. The rear passengers have plenty of headroom and legroom, and the 506-liter trunk is very spacious.
A great long-distance cruiser
During my week with the CX-5, I was everywhere with jobs and other errands. From a long journey to Highland Perthshire With a twist of a few back roads in Fife and a climb up the A92 to Arbroath, he took all the roads and all the weather conditions in his stride.
The Mazda CX-5 can be equipped with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. At this time of year it doesn’t matter which one you have, but in the Scottish winter I would certainly be reassured by the extra traction that all-wheel drive brings. Winter is also the time when the heated seats and heated steering wheel of my top-of-the-range version would take on their full meaning.
Unlike most of its rivals, Mazda is not yet taking the electrification route with most of its cars. There is no such thing as an electric or hybrid CX-5 (although Mazda does make a great all-electric car called the MX-30). Instead, Mazda relies on an army of buyers who prefer gasoline or diesel engines to electrified powertrains. Whether they are right or wrong, only time will tell.
I came away very impressed with the CX-5. It’s superb, extremely spacious, as refined as a luxury sedan, and with four-wheel drive it has enough off-road capability to take you around a muddy campsite or down a forest trail.
If it was my money, I would go for a diesel over gasoline. The low power of diesel is more suitable for SUVs. And Mazda appears to be the only automaker to use tiny old-fashioned sunroofs instead of large panoramic glass roofs.
Other than these minor gripes, there is very little to criticize here. The Mazda CX-5 is reasonably priced, looks great, has tons of space inside, and is beautifully comfortable and stylish.
It’s a car that is very hard not to like.
Price: £ 37,185
0-62 mph: 9.2 seconds
Maximum speed: 121 mph
Economy: 35.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 182g / km