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- Superb efficiency
- Good to drive
- Very spacious
- Expensive compared to rivals
- Mixed reports on ride quality
- Not everyone will like its looks!
On the contrary, the Mazda has plenty to brag about, such as its low running costs, class-leading space and ‘better than most’ driving characteristics and dynamics. However, the CX-5 isn’t quite as complete as an all-rounder as its maker would lead you to believe.
The first thing that strikes you about the CX-5’s interior is the sheer amount of space on offer – thanks to the longest wheelbase in this class, there’s more than enough space for people in the front and back seats, and the boot is a class-leading 503 litres in size.
The rear seats also fold away in Mazda’s clever ’40:20:40’ layout, and the luggage bay increases to just over 1,600 litres with all backs folded completely flat. It’s worth pointing out though that the middle seat in the back is very narrow, and would even struggle to accommodate a child!
Interior build quality is also decent, with praise being given to the tactile controls and the fit and finish you’d expect from a Mazda. However, whilst there are quite a lot of soft-touch plastics, the rest of the cabin is made up of ‘inferior’ materials, and the dash design was criticised by some for looking a little bland.
Those expecting the CX-5 to be the ‘MX-5 of the compact SUV class’ will undoubtedly be disappointed, but that’s not to say this new Mazda is rubbish to drive. Quite the opposite, in fact –the critics seem to be very pleased with the way this car drives, with praise being given to the sharp handling, ‘snickety-snick’ gearbox, grip levels and impressive body control.
It’s also good at slower speeds, too, with the reports stating there’s clear visibility all-round and, despite the CX-5 being one of the largest cars in this class, it’s not that tricky to drive in built-up areas, and all the main controls are light and easy to use. Most critics also say there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver, so whoever’s at the helm should be able to get themselves comfy and into their ideal driving position.
There are though a few niggles with the CX-5: reports seem to be mixed with regards to the ride quality (some thought the ride was always firm, whilst others reckoned it was supple enough), the levels of refinement at higher speeds and the feedback from the steering, with some members of the press saying it was ‘fuzzy’.
Only two engines are on offer in the CX-5 range – a 2.0 petrol and two variants of the same 2.2 diesel – and both are, on paper at least, very impressive. All the engines in the range have decent punch, with the turbocharged diesels offering considerable poke across most of the rev range, and all boast decent levels of refinement.
It’s the fuel economy figures, though, that have been grabbing all the headlines – the diesels, with their 54-61mpg ratings, are by far the most efficient, but even the 2.0 petrol can return a very impressive 47mpg. The engines also emit incredibly low amounts of CO2 for the class standard, so road tax bills also aren’t that expensive.
With regards to transmissions, a six-speed manual and, on some models, a six-speed automatic are available, and both transmissions have been met with quite a bit of praise from the critics. Both appear to be very well sorted ‘boxes that are easy to use, and both suit the car exceptionally well. However, the auto does compromise the fuel economy, so it’s best to stay with the manual if it’s optimum efficiency you’re after.
Value for money
From some angles, the Mazda CX-5 does offer very good value for money. As stated earlier, the low running costs makes this one of the most affordable cars in this class to run, hardly any rival can touch it on space and standard equipment levels are generous: all cars come with climate control, parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, stop/start, cruise control and a 5.8 inch display a standard.
The elephant in the room, though, is the car’s price. Though the CX-5 isn’t overwhelmingly more expensive than a handful of its more notable rivals, some of them do undercut the Mazda by a noticeable margin, though it’s worth pointing out that some of the CX-5’s arch competitors are cheaper because they come with less equipment as standard –specify them to identical levels, and the price gap between them is marginal at best.
Some critics haven’t been that complimentary towards the car’s ride quality, though all agree that it’s worth sticking with the standard 17 inch wheels if you want the compact SUV to be as comfortable as it can be. However, the smaller wheels do look ‘lost’ in the wheel arches, and one critic did reckon the ride and handling improved with the optional 19 inch rims.
If you want four-wheel drive with your CX-5, then you’d better steer clear of the petrol, as it’s only available with front-wheel drive. That said, all the critics seem to agree that the FWD cars have more than enough grip and road holding for most needs, so unless you absolutely want or need the added security of knowing all the wheels are driven, it’s best to save some extra pennies and stick with the standard setup.
As befitting of something that’s all-new (and we do mean ‘all-new’: all of the major ‘SkyActiv’ tech on offer is making its world debut in the Mazda), the CX-5 is, in many ways, a breath of fresh air. It may be a large car, but Mazda has somehow given it the handling that only a handful of its rivals can match, the space of a big SUV and the running costs that are more akin to a supermini.
It’s not entirely perfect, and some rivals do provide a package that’s as competitive and as likeable as the one on offer in the Mazda, but that doesn’t stop the CX-5 from being one of the top cars in this class, and only a few tweaks away from being crowned king of the compact, family-orientated SUVs. If you’re in the market for such a car, the Mazda CX-5 should be right up there at the top of your wishlist.
- Price range:
- £21,395 - £28,995
- 47 - 61
- Safety rating (NCAP):
- Date released:
- Replacement due:
- Not for at least a few years
- Other variants:
- There's also the bigger Mazda CX-7
Mazda CX-5 User Reviews
The handling of the CX5 is easy considering the size in this class. Easy to get into small parking sport, equipped with reverse camera, sensors, it make handling a breeze. The dashboard is also very informative on fuel consumption, and mileage.
Dislikes?…… The Tom Tom navigation system, not a friendly as the PaPaGo system. It stops functioning once in a while and drivers depending on it can get into a fix. No light in the boot. Would be nice to have more storage compartments e.g. For coins.
Overall it is a great SUV.
- By JJC, who owns this car
I’m really impressed with the ride and feel of this car- much better than I thought it would be for a car this size. I’ve not experienced the wind noise some reviewers had but there is some tyre rumble on certain surfaces.
The engine seems to perform well but so far after 2500 miles the fuel economy on the 2.2D is disappointing. Even after a long motorway haul in France - admittedly fully loaded - I was only getting 37 mpg. The dealer says you will only get proper economy after 5000 miles is this really true- I hope so!
- By John, who owns this car
Happy with the comfort and ride, no slouch on excelloration. certainly could do with more storage compartments, but not a deal breaker.
I’ve noticed, when connecting 2 mobile phones to the bluetooth that switching between them isn’t straight forward.
Economy, 48mpg combined, worryingly low, wouldn’t mind if it was over 55mpg, but am a little conecerned.
Hope the previous reviewer JJC is right and it gets better after 5000 miles.
Still, I like this car very much, rating reflects economy & bluetooth
- By David