Mazda CX-5

Great-to-drive SUV with efficient engines

7.6
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 13 reviews
  • Superb efficiency
  • Good to drive
  • Very spacious
  • Interior quality still not the best
  • Noticeable wind and road noise
  • Divisive looks on basic models
 

£23,195 - £30,995 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

47 - 61 MPG

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.

Buy your CX-5 from one of carwow’s trusted dealers and you stand to make a saving of £2,330.

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 includes cruise control, climate control, electric windows all round and central locking.

Take a look at our handy guides pages to find the perfect Mazda CX-5 paint-job and all the specific dimensions details or check out its upcoming replacement in our dedicated Mazda CX-5 price, specs and release date article.

Cheapest to buy: 2.0-litre 165 SE-L petrol

Cheapest to run: 2.2-litre 150 Sport Nav diesel

Fastest model: 2.2-litre 175 Sport Nav diesel

Most popular: 2.2-litre Sport Nav

The CX-5’s facelift has brought extra soft-touch plastics and a curvier design. The materials used are, on the whole, strong and sturdy, if not of the highest quality. The dashboard has a 5.8-inch touchscreen.

The steering wheel is adjustable, so everyone can find a comfortable driving position. Visibility is helped by the car’s raised ride height, but reviewers say that there are a few blind spots due to the thick rear pillars, although all models come with rear parking sensors fitted as standard.

Mazda CX-5 passenger space

The Mazda CX-5 sports a massive interior with rear seats that fold easily to create more space for bulky items. Of the five seats only the middle one in the back can feel tight for adults. The car also comes with Isofix child-seat anchorages. Most reviewers find the seats very comfortable, however, there have been some complaints about a lack of thigh support, which could be a pain on long hauls.

Mazda CX-5 boot space

The boot space for the Mazda CX-5 is 503 litres, which is great compared to the 430 litres in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai, 416 litres in the Skoda Yeti, and 406 litres in the Ford Kuga. The space can be extended to 1,620 litres by folding down the rear seats individually, all of which are spring loaded and easy to operate.

There are plenty of storage spaces scattered around the interior, but they are smaller than the ones found in some rivals.

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

There are two gearboxes and three engines options to choose from in the CX-5 range.

Mazda CX-5 petrol engine

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 mean annual road tax is £130 a year – its higher running costs make the petrol model harder to recommend than the diesels.

Mazda CX-5 diesel engines

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 and costs £30 on annual tax. 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), tax is £130 and £145 a year respectively.

The Mazda CX-5 falls into insurance rating groups 15 to 21, depending on the configuration. By way of comparison, the Nissan Qashqai sits in groups 14 to 19.

Mazda, offers a three-year/60,000 mile warranty which falls well short of the seven-year/100,000 mile warranty that comes with the Kia Sportage. Mazda also offers fixed-price servicing, which comes with neat pricing plans to keep maintenance costs low.

Mazda only expects 15% of CX-5 buyers to opt for this entry level petrol model, so as a result very few critics so far have tried out the new compact SUV with this engine. However, that doesn't mean the innovative new power plant should be ignored, as there seems to be plenty to like about it –all the testers agree it’s the most entertaining to drive, yet is almost as efficient as the cheapest diesel CX-5.

That said, people who prefer more torque or rack up plenty of miles a year may still be better off with diesel power at their disposal.

Of course, the lack of any turbocharging or low-down torque when compared with the diesel-powered CX-5 does play against the ‘SkyActiv-G’ model, but in almost all other areas, the petrol motor suits the car exceptionally well. Whilst there isn’t much punch to play with at lower revs, it does provide decent pace for a car of this size (though all critics agree it’s not that fast), yet fuel economy figures of 47mpg and 139g/km of CO2 emissions are on par with the least efficient diesel in the CX-5 range.

The petrol-powered CX-5 is only available with front wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission (the diesels have the option of all-wheel drive and a six-speed auto), which most testers say makes this spec the most entertaining to drive – the blend of a zippy petrol with what one report suggested was one of Mazda’s best ever manuals makes this a surprisingly adept as a mild-mannered driver’s car for a compact SUV.

For buyers who’ll prefer a bit more efficiency, more torque over more of the rev range or simply the appeal of AWD and an auto ‘box, the diesels may be the more appropriate choice. That said, the petrol engine does have its perks, and if the prospect of a family-orientated small SUV that also happens to be decent to drive yet is as efficient as a diesel appeals to you, the CX-5 SkyActiv-G is worth a closer look.

Most CX-5 buyers are expected to plump for the diesel engine, and the reports suggest that it is the pick of the range. If you’re interested in Mazda’s new compact SUV, this is the one we reckon you should lean towards.

Thanks to the efficiency technology and the technical innovations for the engine, the ‘SkyActiv-D’ family is the most efficient in the CX-5 range: in front-wheel drive guise with the manual gearbox (cars fitted with four-wheel drive and/or the automatic gearboxes aren’t quite as clean or as frugal), Mazda claims 61mpg and £30 road tax, which are figures you’d more associate with superminis and eco-special family hatchbacks, let alone an SUV!

There’s more good news too – the two turbochargers give the CX-5 plenty of low-down punch, yet the 2.2 four-cylinder motor is surprisingly refined and eager to rev for something that runs off black pump fuel.

There are a few negative points with this model, prices are a bit steep, and the petrol may make more sense if you don’t do big miles – but the 2.2 diesel is by far the best all-rounder in the range, and is the one we reckon you should go for if you believe the CX-5 is the right car for you.

With the Euro NCAP crash-test rating of five stars in 2014, the Mazda CX-5 should be very safe.

Most of the safety-gear is standard kit. That includes curtain airbags, driver and front-passenger airbags, traction control, emergency stop signalling system, Smart City Brake Support to automatically prevent collisions at low speeds, and Hill Hold Assist.

As options, customers can choose lane departure and blind spot warning systems – worthwhile considering the CX-5’s poor rearward visibility.

Equipment levels in the Mazda CX-5 come as a pleasant surprise – even the cheapest variation sports more than enough kit for most people’s needs.

Standard toys include a 5.8-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, CD player, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, plus a leather-trimmed steering wheel and air conditioning. Outside the CX-5 has daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding heated door mirrors, privacy glass and automatic wipers.

Mazda CX-5 SE-L Lux

SE-L Lux models get a nicer interior than the basic car. The standard sunroof makes the interior more airy, while the leather upholstery adds a touch of luxury and the electric driver’s seat is easier to operate than the manual one in the standard car.

Mazda CX-5 Sport Nav

Choose one of the Sport Nav models and you get racy looks courtesy of 19-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights, while there’s also a reversing camera, a Bose stereo system and LED front lights. The most useful addition, however, is the car’s sat-nav system.

Conclusion

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 by more than £3,000, 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 foglamps  – are only available on the top of the range model.

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