Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017) Review

Mazda’s experience building sports cars such as the MX-5 has rubbed off on its CX-5 SUV and, as a result, it is one of the most fun-to-drive models in a class that includes the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Check out how it compared to the latter with our Mazda CX-5 vs Toyota RAV4 side-by-side comparison.

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Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017): what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

The Mazda is also quite cheap to run. Even the 2.0-litre petrol model offers fuel economy of 47.1mpg, but go for the 2.2-litre diesel and more than 60mpg is possible. The latter makes more sense in the CX-5 because its extra torque allows for quick overtakes and also means it can deal better with the weight of four people and their luggage.

No matter which engine you go for, though, the Mazda is fun to drive thanks to its accurate steering, lack of body lean in corners, and precise gearbox action.

Inside, there’s space to comfortably fit four adults. Of the aforementioned rivals, only the Kia offers a larger boot.

Although you’ll have to pay extra for sat-nav, standard equipment levels are good and include cruise control, climate control, electric windows all round and central locking.

The CX-5 combines the practicality of a mid-size SUV with the driving fun of a sports car

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The Mazda CX-5 has always been one of our favourite SUVs and this mid-life facelift has done nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. Prices have risen slightly, but the Mazda still undercuts the equivalent Honda CR-V, has a better diesel engine, and is much more fun to drive. The only negative is that the visual tweaks – to the headlights, grille and fog lamps  – are only available on the top of the range model.

What's it like to drive?

If you are looking for an SUV that is fun to drive on the road, then look no further.

The gearshift feels like taken straight from the brilliant MX-5 sportscar

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The 163hp 2.0-litre petrol comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and two-wheel drive. It achieves fuel economy of 47.1mpg, according to Mazda, however long motorway runs can up that to 55.4mpg. CO2 emissions of 139g/km – its higher running costs make the petrol model harder to recommend than the diesels.

The best option for fuel economy is the 148hp 2.2-litre diesel; which in two-wheel-drive form gives average fuel economy of 61.4mpg. The Nissan Qashqai can achieve up to 74mpg.

Pay a premium and you could have the 173hp 2.2-litre diesel, which only comes with Sports Nav trim and four-wheel drive – the latter makes it an excellent tow car. The top-of-the-range diesel returns fuel economy of 54.3mpg (manual) and 51.4mpg (automatic).

It’s actually fairly easy to compare the CX-5’s driving experience to the Mazda  MX-5 sports car – its handling is absolutely fantastic for a car of its size. The gearbox is light to operate and the brakes are easy to modulate.

Passengers will find the ride is stress-free and smooth, as the tyres and the suspension system soak up much of the pot-holes and vibrations, making it a great ride for long motorway journeys.

Four-wheel-drive versions of the CX-5 are great for those who like a bit of adventure or extra grip in bad weather, however, off-roading is not a CX-5 strongpoint. For mud plugging, we recommend the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

What's it like inside?

The CX-5’s facelift has brought extra soft-touch plastics and a curvier design.

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £22,380 - £31,590
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  • Dealers come to you with their best offers
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