B1 Intermediate 2533 Folder Collection
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Spring may finally be just around the corner, but with the recent spell of almost Biblical
weather, many people are considering investing in something with a bit more ground clearance
and a double-helping of traction. While Mazda is relatively new to the SUV world with the
CX-5, they've taken the opportunity to showcase their various SkyActiv technologies as well
as their Kodo design language. The latter is most obvious in the shape of the front
grille, the wing motif that crosses into the headlights, the flared wheel-arches and sculpted
flanks, and the high shoulder line that flows into the rear lights. Inside, there's steering
wheel adjustment for both reach and rake, while the sportily bolstered front seats offer
a good range of travel, especially for height. The dashboard has a simple layout, with the
ventilation controls deserving a special mention for their satisfying action. The hooded dials
are nice and clear, with a screen on the right that can display a variety of trip information.
The rest of the car's functions are governed by Mazda's Multimedia Controller, a twisty-turny
iDrive-style wheel that provides access to a series of menus displayed on the colour
touch-screen in the centre console, and this allows you to flick through radio stations
and your MP3s, change various vehicle settings, or program the TomTom navigation system. If
the controller isn't for you, you can at least resort to poking at the menus on the screen
with your finger, or use the not-always-successful voice control system. Cabin storage is OK,
although you do only get one cup-holder because of the multimedia controller, but there's
space for coins, drinks and phones under the central armrest, complete with a charging
point and a USB input. Rear seat passengers should be happy enough, and there's good headroom
despite the sloping roof-line. Middle seat passengers might feel a little short-changed,
but the reason for that becomes apparent when you fold the seats forward. The CX-5 is unusual
in having a 40:20:40 split rear seat, and that allows you to carry long loads and two
rear-seat passengers at the same time. In fact, this sense of flexibility continues
into the boot, with Mazda's excellent load cover that attaches to the tailgate so it
never gets in your way, and there's a dedicated space to stow it under the floor when not
in use. The underfloor storage is easy to get into, too, with a split-folding floor
and even a clever little hook to hold it up out of the way when fiddling with the tools.
The rear seats can be folded independently and easily using levers mounted in the boot
walls, and with all seats folded space increases from 503 litres to 1,620. The CX-5 is available
with three engines: a 2.0-litre petrol with 165PS, plus a pair of 2.2-litre twin-turbo
diesels with either 150PS or, as in our test car, 175PS. The 150 diesel is likely to be
the pick of the bunch, chiefly because of its impressive economy of 61.4 mpg and CO2
emissions of just 119 g/km. For sheer grunt, however, it's difficult to argue with the
175 diesel, its 420Nm of torque squirting the CX-5 from 0-62mph in just 8.8 seconds.
It's quite efficient, too, and although we couldn't reach the government figure of 54.3
mpg, we average around the 41 mpg mark during our time with it. All three engines are mated
as standard to a six-speed manual transmission that boasts a stubby gear lever and a beautifully
short throw that wouldn't be out of place on an MX-5. Coupled with the diesel's sheer
grunt, it makes snicking your way through the ratios a real joy. Luckily, the handling
doesn't let the side down, and the Mazda's suspension has been retuned for 2014 for greater
comfort. It corners surprisingly flatly, too, and while you could say that body-roll builds
when pressing on through the twisties, the point is that you can press on. The suspension
soaks up bumps well without transmitting much thump into the cabin, although the 19-inch
wheels of our Sport model do generate noticeable tyre noise and can fidget a little in town.
Out on the open road, you'll appreciate the diesel engine's refinement, staying remarkably
smooth even at the red-line, which is particularly unusual for a diesel. Overtaking slower-moving
traffic is drama-free thanks to the engine's vast torque reserves and of course that fine
gear-shift. Away from the tarmac, the CX-5's 210mm of ground clearance and entirely automatic
four-wheel-drive system - standard on the 175 diesel and optional on the 150 - should
allow you to navigate muddy tracks without too much difficulty. There are no buttons
or levers to worry about, instead the system can send up to 50% of the engine's torque
to the rear wheels whenever loss of traction is detected, and while we didn't attempt to
go rock-crawling in it, the CX-5 handled most things we could reasonably ask of it. In fact,
our only gripe with the CX-5 is the lack of an entry-level model to compete with the new
Nissan Qashqai, the CX-5's starting price of £21,595 being some £4,000 more than the
Nissan. That said, however, it's possible Mazda have the answer waiting in the wings
in the form of the recently-announced 1.5-litre diesel engine. Time will tell. So, while Mazda
may have been fashionably late to the SUV party, as it turns out, the CX-5 was well
worth the wait.
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2014 Mazda CX-5 Review

2533 Folder Collection
Michael Chen published on April 15, 2014
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