Lots of interior space. Rock solid build quality. Good equipment levels. Good fuel economy.
The crossover market is a-boomin', with lots of car manufacturers releasing vehicles that aim to merge the off-roader looks of an SUV with the drivability of the city car. Nissan and Kia has this cracked with their offerings. So what of the Mazda CX-5?
Crossovers are all about style. The Nissan Juke looks awesome and the Kia Sportage looks classy. So where does the Mazda CX-5 fit in? Well, I'd say firmly in the middle - it isn't sporty in design but it isn't Rolls Royce either. That's not to say it's ugly though. On the contrary, I think it's rather cute, in a Steve Buscemi kind of way. Whichever angle you look at the CX-5 is looks like a city car ahead of an SUV, which is good, given the model I reviewed was the 2WD version. The car benefits from larger than life alloy wheels, grey plastic skirts and a very Far East look. It's not dissimilar to the Nissan Qashqui in many respects.
Due to the cars dimensions, this is not a masculine car. It's very feminine. If you want your husband to keep his hands off your secret lover this is the way to go.
To drive the Mazda CX-5 is relaxing with its pros and cons. Overall, though, it's a positive experience.
Now, I know most women won't care about this, but I have to say it - the 2.2-litre diesel engine in the CX-5 is SENSATIONAL. I drive an Audi A3 2.0 TDI during my everyday travels, and I was not just pleasantly surprised at the power plant in the Mazda, but I was overwhelmed. I thought German engines were good?
The reason the 2.2-litre diesel engine in the CX-5 is so good is because it seemingly defies the regular characteristics of a turbocharged diesel engine; yes, it has perky power delivery, but it's consistent throughout the rev range and no matter what gear you are in, it'll just pull and pull. It is also remarkably quiet - even more so than my 2.0 TDI - and it astonished me with its fuel consumption (read more on that below).
On top of the engine Mazda have thought of everything to make the driving experience as good as possible in the CX-5. Parking sensors ensure that you never accidentally back in to anything and cruise control makes for relaxed motorway driving. Motorway driving, as it happens, it the only downside to this car - at 65 mph+, road and wind noise comes in to the cabin. That's not a problem for a slow coach like me, though, but for motorway milers I suspect this will become very annoying very quickly.
Mazda has done a great job at making the all-new CX-5 a pleasant place to be. First, let's start with the good - the CX-5 has an incredibly spacious cabin and the rear passenger area is a particular highlight, transporting my two teenage children + friend with relative ease. The boot is also HUGE at 463-litres below the belt line. The boot is also shaped ergonomically, and putting 15 or so shopping bags in there is a piece of cake. On the move, the seats are very comfortable and they're also supportive; as noted above, you sit high up, which makes you feel like you're driving a nice big SUV. All switchgear is robust and has a satisfying click to it when used, and the centre console is well laid out. Materials, as you'd expect, are not class-leading but they are very good; the leather steering wheel and gears, along with the soft touch dashboard and arm rests, bring a touch of class to the cabin. It isn't as classy as the Audi A3 inside but it does have more personality. The only downside to the cabin is that there's some budget materials in sight. The foot well, for example, was clearly an afterthought.
Still, if first impressions count, the CX-5 impresses.
Despite being a rather large car with a kerb weight of 1145 kg, coupled with the 2.2-litre diesel engine the Mazda CX-5 will return an admirable 61.4 mpg on a combined cycle. In the real-world, I managed to achieve an average of 57.5 mpg on a 150 mile round trip, and the read out never once dipped below 40 mpg. Considering the performance on offer, these running costs are very good indeed and at current diesel prices, the cost per mile works out at 53p. The car sits in insurance group 18, and staggeringly, it only outputs 119 g/km C02. That's as low as some 1.4-litre diesel engines.
Trim and equipment
The CX-5 Crossover 2.2D Skyactiv-D 150 SE-L Lux 5dr tested here today has an on-the-road price of £23,995. Standard equipment is this middle-of-the-range car includes cruise control, climate control, heated power folding electric mirrors, CD player, iPod and MP3 connectivity, alloy wheels, front fog lights, satellite navigation, split and fold rear seats, Bluetooth and LOTS of safety features including passenger and side airbags, curtain airbags and there are also rain sensing wipers and front parking sensors.
Overall, the Mazda CX-5 is the best equipped crossover on the market for the price asked of it. In fact, the amount of kit you get is rather impressive. The most expensive CX-5 you can buy rolls in at £28,195 - called the 'Sport Nav', this includes leather seats as standard and all-wheel drive.
The Mazda CX-5 is a real peach of a car. It looks fantastic, it drives fantastic, and the 2.2-litre diesel engine offers good pulling power with class-leading emissions. It also has a 5 Star EURO NCAP rating and the interior is almost as good as an Audi Q3's. It lacks badge appeal, but the CX-5 is without any shadow of a doubt one of the most well-rounded cars I have driven in 2013, and that's saying something. Downsides? Well, wind noise can be an issue at motorway speeds, as can road noise, but theses miss-haps don't detract from what should be a very tempting proposition.
In conclusion, this is the best crossover you can buy right now, edging out the Nissan Juke and Kia Sportage by a rather significant margin.