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New Mazda CX-5 review

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    The CX-5 feels well planted and has the dynamics that's now expected from the Hiroshima-based brand Photo Gallery

Stuart Martin gets a quick taste of the new Mazda CX-5.

The conversation was started by the Mazda CEO, president and chairman - Takashi Yamanouchi seemed a little disturbed that some of the Australian media were yet to sample the company's new compact SUV.

We're in an early pre-production left-hand-drive vehicle for an all-too brief a drive, with European-tuned suspension on 225/55 19in wheels, not that the test track gives much clue as to the ride quality or handling prowess - the engineers point out that it's all still being sorted.

What's of more interest is the Skyactiv diesel and automatic AWD, which is also destined for the next Mazda6 - foretold by the Takeri concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. 

While the company is still coy on final specification for the car, the diesel is a 2.2-litre offering 129kW and 420Nm in the high-power version - don't expect the 110kW/380Nm standard-power model to head our way.

The entry-level car is expected to be the 121kW/210Nm 2.0-litre Skyactiv petrol front-wheel drive, which is available in six-speed manual or automatic guise, to slot in at the bottom of the range - perhaps below $30,000 - with top-end models likely to be mid-$40,000.

Among the equipment on offer will be the stop/start "i-stop" fuel-saving system (which is standard range-wide in Euro-spec cars), as well as the low-speed auto-braking system (to prevent collisions below 30km/h), a lane-departure warning system and auto-dipping high-beam.

The same 2.5km track which we've sampled the Mazda2 EV on - with slightly banked turns at either end - has varying surfaces but is mostly smooth and hardly a comprehensive route over which an SUV can be stretched, but we're not saying no to a drive in a model that is the company's first complete Skyactiv model and is expected to do well for the car maker.

It's the response away from standstill that surprises - the diesel is turbine smooth, quiet and refined. The 2.2-litre aluminium turbodiesel runs variable-exhaust valve, a dual-stage turbocharger and a low (for a diesel) 14:1 compression ratio which - when combined with exhaust gas recirculation negates the need for the CX-7's urea NOx-reduction treatment system.

Mazda says improvements in emissions and fuel economy are around 20 per cent to around 5.3l/100km, depending on drivetrain and model. A redline of 5200rpm is reached quickly and without any obvious strain; the power delivery doesn't feel as though it falls away much either. 

Changes from the six-speed auto are almost imperceptible at full throttle and even from the outside it sounds like a quiet petrol engine, not an oil burner.

A competitor - a local but with a French accent - has a worthy drivetrain but sounds rougher and hasn't got the outputs or the road manners to match the new Mazda, rolling more into corners and proving less involving for the driver through the steering.

The CX-5 feels well planted and has the dynamics that's now expected from the Hiroshima-based brand - it is close in size the CX-7 in many respects and it's little wonder the 5 spells the end of the 7 in its current form. The CX-5 will co-exist with the CX-7 post its March arrival, but Mazda won't say for how long.

The interior packaging is good - a 190cm driver and similarly-sized passenger can co-exist on the same side of the car, headroom is good and the 503-litre boot space is also useful.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 9 comments

  • CX 5 has good space, good economy but why in 2012 must their diesel engine require servicing every 6 months? Seems like either a scam or an inability to keep up with the Europeans. I am 194 cm’s and can fit in both front and rear, which I could never do in the cx7 or cx9, but the interior of the cx7 is let down by low rent thin plastics. With $2b spent on developing this vehicle they really missed the opportunity to compete in the $50k zone (where the GT model sits), with these plastics

    Ian Rob of Brisbane Posted on 07 May 2012 9:51am
  • Do Mazda ship inferior vehicles to Australia? In Australia they need servicing every six months. In UK every 12 months.?. What is the go Mazda???

    bobby of Sydney Posted on 10 March 2012 10:03pm
  • Cx7 looks better any day, the only mistake Mazda made is not making Cx7 luxury version in 2.4 engine,,, they only sell turbo ones denting their sales,,,,,, If they come up with cx7 luxury version in simple 2.4 format non turbo, it will kill the market…

    Dax of Sydney Posted on 24 February 2012 1:47pm
  • M van den Bremer, we have a Sportage Platinum and our Double pram cant fit in the boot, very dissapointing, your figures are incorrect I assure you.

    Ryan of Brisbane Posted on 27 January 2012 1:32pm
  • M van den Bremer, I think you will find that the 503L of the CX-5 is the space below the blind/seat back however the 730-740L of the Kia/Hyundai twins you quoted would be to the roof. I think you would find that the space below the blind/seat top would be more than competitive if not in the Mazda’s favour.

    Sydlocal Posted on 06 January 2012 9:03am
  • Whats disappointing is the Diesel CX5 will cost over 50k which pits it against the BMW X1, XC60, Freelander, Ford Territory….The CX7 is a good looker but poor boot space of 455l so the CX5 will be a easier pick esp as the CX7 has poor fuel consumption with AWD turbo.

    JoeR_AUS of North Ryde Posted on 13 December 2011 10:29am
  • The bootspace of 503 litre is very disappointing as it the Mazda CX-5 is around the same lenght as the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai IX35, which have respectively 740 and 730 litre bootspace, so around 1/3 bigger. Does it have so much extra leg space for the passenger seats or has space been wasted in the boot somehow?

    M van den Bremer of Noosaville QLD Posted on 12 December 2011 4:12pm
  • I agree with phoung the CX7 is better looking, having said that I can’t wait for the 2.2 diesel CX5 - and for the missus it will be the 6 speed automatic. All of the early reports from all corners of the earth is that the CX5 is a quality allrounder, with the diesel the pick with strong performance, and 4.7 litres per 100 kms economy. I just hope that Mazda does make sunroof avaiable even as an option - are you listening Mazda ??????!?!?!?

    Con Verdis of ROZELLE NSW 2039 Posted on 10 December 2011 1:44pm
  • The CX7 still a better looker. Mazda styling is less intriguing than before.

    phuong Posted on 09 December 2011 11:09am
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