Audi Q5 VS Mazda CX-5
- Much needed tech improvements
- Good value
- Sturdy family tourer
- Misses out on newer Audi design elements
- Not the sportiest-feeling SUV
- Still a three-year warranty
- Stylish design is ageing well
- Not a boring SUV to drive
- Most safety stuff appears on the cheapest model
- Where is our hybrid?
- Non-touchscreen tech feels old school
- Range-wide pricer increases are never fun
The mid-size SUV is now a brand's most crucial model.
Now the defining volume seller of our age, the ever-popular category transcends brand and market position – and Audi is no exception.
To that end, the German brand reminds us that Q5 is its most successful SUV, having sold almost 40,000 units in Australia so far. No pressure on this new one then, which brings some much-needed updates to the current-generation SUV which launched back in 2017.
Has Audi done enough to keep the Q5 sticking it to its (also very good) arch-rivals from Germany and the world for years to come? We sampled the updated car at its Australian launch to find out.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
Let's get this out of the way early: Mazda's new CX-5 isn't actually all that new.
But has it done enough to stay relevant in Australia's biggest new-car segment? Let's find out, shall we?
|Engine Type||2.2L turbo|
Audi has worked largely behind the scenes to tweak and change just little details for its facelifted Q5. Ultimately though, these all add up for a significantly more appealing mid-size luxury SUV, even against tough segment competition.
The brand has managed to add some vital tech enhancements, improve value, and breathe life back into its key family tourer which previously looked a little in danger of being left behind.
Our pick of the range is the Sport for having the most impressive equipment at a very reasonable price.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's clearly Mazda's approach to the CX-5, which is no longer the newest kid on the block, but remains a strong option in the segment.
The cabin tech and the lack of electrification options certainly carbon-dates it, but the drive experience and style are still very much up to the job.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the updated Q5's design is how closely you have to look to see what's changed. I know Audi's design language tends to move at a glacial pace, but it is unfortunate timing for the Q5 that it misses out on some of the more fun and radical design choices made with more recently launched Audi SUVs, such as the Q3 and Q8.
Regardless, the brand has revised the grille across all grades, tweaked some little features in the face to make it a bit more angular, added some contrast in the alloy wheel designs, and removed the chintzier plastic cladding from the base model.
They're all subtle changes, but welcome ones that help the Q5 sync up with the rest of the brand's line-up once more. The Q5 is a conservative choice, perhaps for those looking to fly under the radar compared to the shouty chrome of the GLC or exaggerated features of the BMW X3.
Round the back this latest Q5 update gets even more subtle, with the most notable feature being a highlight bar across the bootlid. The rear light clusters are now LED across the range, and have been slightly re-worked, and the lower splitter has a more modern design.
Put simply, if you liked the Q5 before, you'll like it even more now. I hardly think its new look is revolutionary enough to capture a new audience in quite the same way as its smaller Q3 sibling or even the new A1 hatch.
The changes to the Q5's interior design are small but significant, and really help to modernise the space. The standard 10.1-inch multimedia screen pairs nicely with the virtual dash cluster now standard across the range, and the dreadful software from the previous car has been replaced by the slick operating system from more recent Audis.
As things are now easier to use via the touchscreen, the Q5's once-busy centre console has been tidied up. The odd touchpad and dial set-up have been removed and replaced by a pared-back design with useful little storage cutaways.
It certainly looks as high-tech as Audi's "progress through technology" tagline would suggest. Other improvements include improved 'leather accented trim' on the seats, and a revised console box with a slide-away wireless phone-charging bay, a nice touch.
The two cars we tested showed off the choices of interior highlight trim: our diesel car had an open-pore wood look, and the petrol car had a textured aluminium finish. Both felt and looked great.
The Q5's overall interior design is showing its age a bit, with the rest of the quite upright dash remaining the same as it was when this generation launched in 2017. Apart from those nice highlight trims, it's a bit of a single-colour treatment. At least it has all of the comfort touches you might expect from a car in this segment. It's not even to say that Audi has done a poor job of this update, quite the opposite, it's more a credit to the strong design language found on the interiors of its new-generation vehicles that the Q5 misses out on this time around.
Short answer? If you like the outgoing CX-5, you're going to like this one, too. And if you don't? Well you're bang out of luck.
Me? I'm in the former camp. The CX-5 was, and thus still is, a handsome and understated offering in the mid-size SUV space, somehow managing too look smaller, sportier and a little more polished than some of its key rivals.
This is the Where's Wally of design updates, though. You'll find the changes in a new-look grille, which has a new textured design that's intended to look and feel more three-dimensional.
The lights, front and rear, have been tweaked to better match the incoming the CX-60, too. Oh, and there's some body-coloured or gloss-black – depending on the trim – elements, too.
We also welcome a new trim level, the Touring Active, which includes some bright green grille and interior elements, and a new colour in Zircon Sand.
Inside, it's largely business as usual, too. There's new and more supportive seat materials, and wireless charging across some grades, but that's it really.
Still, I'd argue the CX-5's cabin is ageing like a fine wine rather than a glass of milk, and it still fills plenty polished and premium inside – even if the tech offering (led by the 8.0-inch central screen which is crying out to be made touch sensitive) is starting to feel a little off the pace.
While the Q5 remains dimensionally identical to its predecessor, practicality has improved for this update, especially with the extra space afforded for front passengers. Small but useful storage cutaways for wallets, phones and keys now appear down the centre console, and the storage box with variable-height lid is nice and deep. The wireless phone-charger is a very nice addition, and it can either cover up the front two cupholders for a flush look, or slide away under the console lid if you need to make use of them.
The bottle holders are large, too, and there are even bigger ones with decent trenches in the door pockets.
The tri-zone climate unit is no-nonsense and practical but minimalist dials still appear near the shift-lever for volume and fine-tuning control.
The seats are quite adjustable, as is the steering column, but this is a true SUV at heart, so don't expect to find the sportiest seating position, as these have a high base and the tall dash precludes most from sitting lower to the floor.
In the back seat I had enough room for my 182cm height, but I was honestly expecting a little more from such a large SUV. There's room for my knees and head, but I'll also note the seat trim felt like it could do with more padding in the base. I wasn't as comfortable here as I was in a relatively recent test of the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e, which has softer, more luxurious 'Artico' leather-appointed trim, too. Worth considering.
Rear passengers benefit from a light and airy space thanks to the panoramic sunroof in the Sport grade which we were able to test, and the Q5 continues to offer a very welcome third climate zone with adjustable vents and controls for rear passengers. There are also two USB-A ports and a 12v outlet, for a versatile set of charging options.
Storage-wise, rear passengers get large bottle holders in the doors and flimsy nets on the backs of the front seats, and there's also a drop-down armrest with two smaller bottle-holders.
Another consideration here is the optionally available 'Comfort package' which puts the second row on rails and allows passengers to further adjust the angle of the seat back. This option ($1300 for 40 TDI or $1690 for 45 TFSI) also includes an electric steering column.
Boot space for the Q5 range comes in at 520 litres which is on-par for this luxury mid-size segment, if a little smaller than its key rivals. For reference it easily consumed our CarsGuide demo travel cases with plenty of space to spare. The Q5 also has a collection of elastic nets to go with its multitude of tie-down points.
The addition of a motorised tailgate as standard is a very welcome addition, and the two Q5 Sports we tested had space-saver spares with an inflator kit under the boot floor.
The Mazda CX-5 range stretches 4550mm in length, 1840mm in width and around 1680mm in height. It rides on a 2700mm wheelbase, and has been pretty cleverly packaged to deliver enough cabin and boot space to satisfy most people.
Speaking of which, the (auto-opening in some trims) boot opens to reveal a usable, though not massive, 438 litres with the rear seats in place, and that number swells to 1340 litres with the back pews folded flat, with both those numbers measured in VDA.
Backseat riders will find enough leg and headroom to stay happy, especially if they're my height, 175cm, or less. But the way the centre console and rear tunnel cut into the middle seat's leg room means its pretty much ruled out for adult riders.
I do love the pull-down divider's hidden USB charge points and twin cupholders in all but the base model, and the rear-sear air vents.
Elsewhere, you'll find the usual accompaniment of bottle and cup holders, as well as twin ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Price and features
Would you believe me if I told you the new Q5 was a value buy despite a price-hike for this year?
Yes, it's a luxury SUV, but with a boost in equipment and price-tags across the range that range from slightly to significantly below its key rivals, the Q5 impresses from the get-go.
The entry-level variant is now simply called the Q5 (it used to be called the 'Design'). It's available with a choice of either a 2.0-litre diesel (40 TDI) or a 2.0-litre petrol (45 TFSI) engine, and equipment levels have been most significantly boosted here.
Now standard are 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18s), full paint finish (the brand has elected to dump the plastic-guard look from the previous iteration), LED headlights and taillights (no more xenons!), a new 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen with overhauled software (can't be thankful enough for this one), Audi's signature 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument cluster with further customisable features, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android auto connectivity, a wireless charging bay, auto dimming rear vision mirror, upgraded 'leather appointed' seat trim, and a powered tailgate.
Very nice and almost everything you need, really. The cost? $68,900 before on-roads (MSRP) for the diesel or $69,600 for the petrol. No context for that? All you need to know is it undercuts its two arch-rivals, the entry-level versions of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Next up is the Sport. Again, available with a choice of the same 2.0-litre turbo engines, the Sport adds some primo items like 20-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, auto dimming wing mirrors, adaptive cruise control (can be had as an option on the base car), blacked-out headlining trim, sport seats, some more advanced safety items, and access to some further option packs.
Again, the Sport undercuts its equivalent badges in the X3 and GLC ranges, wearing MSRPs of $74,900 for the 40 TDI, and $76,600 for the 45 TFSI petrol.
Capping off the range will be the S-Line, which will exclusively be available with a 50 TDI 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. Again, the S-Line will up the visual ante with the brand's new performance-oriented blacked-out features, Sportier bodykit and honeycomb grille.
It comes standard with 20-inch alloys in a different design, an interior LED lighting package, electrically adjustable steering column, and a head-up display, but otherwise shares its primary equipment with the Sport. The 50 TDI S-Line wears an MSRP of $89,600. Again, this is not at the expensive end of the spectrum for a more performance-oriented mid-sizer from a luxury brand.
There has been some juggling of the CX-5 range for 2022, which has now resulted in five trim levels, four engine options, two fuel types and two transmissions offered across the CX-5 range, with prices spanning $32,190 for the entry level Maxx manual – or $2k more for the automatic – and $53,680 for the top-spec Akera auto. And to save you doing the math, that means prices are up somewhere between $800 and $1300 across most of the range.
The Maxx cars deliver things like 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, black cloth seats, an 8.0-inch central screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo and leather on the steering wheel and shifter.
Maxx Sport models than add LED fog lamps, dual-zone climate, sat nav and hidden USB charge points in the pull-down seat divider in the back.
Next up is the Touring, which will give you keyless entry, a wireless charger for you mobile, front parking sensor and a neat boot floor which can be reversed when you’re carrying muddy gear for easier cleaning.
New for this update is the Touring Active, which seeks to up the style a bit with 17-inch alloys finished in a grey metallic, gloss-black side mirrors and Maztex seats with fluoro-green accents in the cabin and on the body work.
Still with me? Don’t worry, we’re almost there. Next comes the sporty-looking GT SP, which adds 19-inch alloys, a cool looking gloss-black treatment to the mirrors and grille, a black interior trim, a sunroof and powered boot, heated front seats, and a 10-speaker Bose stereo. You also get Mazda’s clever Adaptive Front-Lighting system, which turn with the vehicle to ensure the road ahead is always illuminated when cornering.
Finally, there’s the top-tier Akera, with it silver 19-inch alloys, ventilated Nappa leather front seats, adaptive LED headlights, and a second 7.0-inch screen.
Mazda CX-5 2022 Price List:
|Maxx 2.0-litre petrol FWD||Manual||$32,190 (+$800)|
|Maxx 2.0-litre petrol FWD||Automatic||$34,190 (+$800)|
|Maxx Sport 2.5-litre petrol FWD||Automatic||$37,990 (+$1300)|
|Maxx Sport 2.5-litre petrol AWD||Automatic||$40,490 (+$800)|
|Touring 2.5-litre petrol AWD||Automatic||$42,390 (+$900)|
|Touring Active 2.5-litre petrol AWD||Automatic||$42,680|
|Touring Active 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD||Automatic||$45,680|
|GT SP 2.5-litre turbo-petrol AWD||Automatic||$48,790 (+$1100)|
|Akera 2.5-litre petrol AWD||Automatic||$50,680 (+$1100)|
|Akera 2.5-litre turbo-petrol AWD||Automatic||$53,680 (+$1100)|
|Akera 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD||Automatic||$53,180 (+$1100)|
Engine & trans
Audi has tweaked the Q5 engine line-up for this facelift, introducing some more high-tech touches.
The base car, and the mid-grade sport have a choice of two engines, the 40 TDI 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, and the 45 TFSI 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol.
Both have healthy outputs slightly different from their pre-facelift equivalents of 150kW/400Nm for the 40 TDI (slightly down), and 183kW/370Nm for the 45 TFSI (slightly up).
These are also augmented with a new mild hybrid (MHEV) system which consists of a separate 12-volt lithium-ion battery which helps to boost the starter motor. It is "mild" in the truest sense of the word but allows these engines to have smoother start/stop systems and increase the amount of time the car can coast with the engine off when decelerating. The brand claims this system can save up to 0.3L/100km on the combined fuel cycle.
Those looking for a little more in every department will soon also be able to opt for the 50 TDI S-Line, which trades the four-cylinder engine for a 3.0-litre diesel V6 producing 210kW/620Nm. It also ups the MHEV system to 48-volt. I'm sure we'll be able to share more on this variant when it launches later in the year.
All Q5s wear Audi's signature Quattro all-wheel drive branding, and in this case it has a newer version (launched with this car in 2017) called "Ultra Quattro" in which all four wheels are driven by default via twin clutch-packs on each axle. This is in contrast to some "on-demand" systems which only activate the front axle when a loss of traction is detected. Audi says the Q5 will revert to front-drive mode only in the most ideal of circumstances, like when minimal acceleration is applied, or when the car is coasting at higher speeds. This system is also said to "reduce frictional losses" for a further approximate 0.3L/100km reduction in fuel consumption.
There are four engines on offer here, and we’ll pop the details down below. But what you really need to know is that the pick of the bunch is the punchy 2.5-litre turbo, which is such a good fit for this vehicle. It pairs exclusively with a six-speed automatic and AWD, and it's a peach.
Elsewhere, you’ve got a choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, and two- or all-wheel drive. Choices, choices, choices. There are plenty of them here.
Mazda CX-5 2022 engine options:
|2.0L Petrol||Power: 115kW @ 6000rpm||Torque: 200Nm @ 4000rp||Driven wheels: FWD||Fuel use: 6.9L/100km (combined)|
|2.5L Petrol||Power: 140kW @ 6000rpm||Torque: 252Nm @ 400rpm||Driven wheels: FWD/AWD||Fuel use: 7.2L-7.4L/100km (combined)|
|2.5L Turbo-petrol||Power: 170kW @ 5000rpm||Torque: 420Nm @ 2000rpm||Driven wheels: AWD||Fuel use: 8.2L/100km (combined)|
|2.2L Turbo-diesel||Power: 140kW @ 4500rpm||Torque: 450Nm @ 2000rpm||Driven wheels: AWD||Fuel use: 5.7L/100km (combined)|
The Q5 is big and heavy, but these new more efficient engines have helped to trim fuel use across the board.
The 40 TDI diesel engine option has an impressively low official claimed/combined fuel figure of just 5.4L/100km, while the 45 TFSI has a less impressive (but still good, all things considered) official/combined figure of 8.0L/100km.
We won't give an as-tested figure for our launch drive loops as they wouldn't be a fair representation of a week of combined driving, so we'll save a full judgement for later variant reviews.
You'll need to fill the 45 TFSI with mid-grade 95RON unleaded petrol. The petrol engine gets a large 73-litre fuel tank, while either of the diesel engines have 70-litre tank.
Non-turbo vehicles are equipped with a 56-litre tank, while the turbocharged models nab and extra two litres for 58 in total. There’s no electrification on offer in the CX-5 family, and with petrol prices increasingly horrific these days, that’s also something that weighs on your mind.
The good news is that petrol-powered examples of the CX-5 run on the cheapest 91RON fuel. The bad news is that with no electrification on offer (like hybrid or PHEV), and fuel prices reaching skyward everyday, there's no real way to mitigate those costs.
We were putting the 2.5-litre, turbocharged models to harder work than they would normally be subjected to, but we also retuned fuel use figures north of 10.0L/100km. And on today's prices, that means $21 every 100km.
Have you driven a Q5 before? For those who have, there will be no big changes here. For everyone else, it's a big heavy SUV with a 2.0-litre engine. The Q5 has always been inoffensive, but perhaps not a riveting experience behind the wheel when it comes to its lesser-powered variants.
We weren't able to test the go-fast 50 TDI S-Line as part of this launch review, but I can report that both updated 2.0-litre turbo options have both been nicely refined to make this big SUV a comfortable and competent family tourer.
Despite Audi going to lengths to point out aggressive 0-100km/h sprint times for both variants, I just couldn't connect with them in that sporty way. I'm sure they're fast in a straight line, but when you need to ask for torque at freeway speed or are really trying to make the most of a curvy road, it's tough to get over this SUV's bulk.
Both engines are quiet though, and even the non-active suspension tune does a remarkable job of being both comfortable and controlled.
The diesel engine is prone to bouts of lag, and although attempts have been made to reduce the impact of the stop-start system, it can leave you without precious torque at times when starting at the lights or at roundabouts and T-junctions. The petrol alternative is much better in this regard, proving slick and responsive on our test loop.
Once up-and-running the dual-clutch was hard to catch out, with ultra-fast shifts and ratios chosen at appropriate times.
The steering suits this car's character really well. It's quite computer-assisted, but in its default mode is pleasantly light, while sport mode tightens up the ratio to bring enough bite and responsiveness to keep the driver engaged enough.
Sport mode does deserve special mention here, as it's an unsually good one. The tightened-up steering is joined by more aggressive accelerator response, and with the excellent adaptive suspension package, a lower firmer ride.
Speaking of the adaptive suspension, we had the opportunity to test it in the 40 TDI, and while it's an expensive option ($3385, ouch!) it removed the sharper moments from the standard ride, added a dollop of dynamism, and quietened down the cabin even more.
Even the stock suspension plays nicely with this car's all-wheel drive system, which no doubt helps with that sturdy road feel and confident traction.
The sum of these parts makes the updated Q5 perhaps what it should be – a comfortable premium family tourer with a hint of something more thrown in. It sits nicely between its key rivals, with the Mercedes-Benz GLC more to the luxury side, and the BMW X3 offering a bit more of a sporty angle.
Who says that buying a family SUV means waving goodbye to any sense of driver enjoyment from behind the wheel?
Mazda has done a stellar job of making the updated CX-5 feel connected to the road below it, sit nice and flat through corners, and – with the right drivetrain equipped – deliver enough lusty grunt for easy overtaking or simply shortening the distance between bends.
It's no performance car, and nor is it trying to be, but it's also not some big and boat-like SUV that tips and rolls through bends and disconnects the driver from the experience.
Instead, it sits somewhere in the middle of those two polls, offering a firm-ish but comfortable enough ride in town, and a sense of athleticism when you're outside the city limits.
One of the focuses for Mazda this time around was on the NVH (how much of the outside world enters the cabin when you're the road), and while I can't offer up a direct comparison with the outgoing model – it's been too long since I've driven one – I can report that this new car is mostly quiet and comfortable, even at speed, with very acceptable levels of wind and road noise in the cabin.
That sense of smoothness is helped along by really predictable steering, and a fairly seamless gearshift from an automatic 'box that swaps its cogs quickly and without much fuss.
So, more of the same really from the CX-5. But to be fair, that's not a bad thing here.
Just like the bump in cabin tech, Audi has now made the majority of safety items standard across the Q5 range.
On the active safety front, even the base Q5 gets auto emergency braking which works up to 85km/h and detects cyclists and pedestrians, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, auto high-beams, and an exit warning system.
Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera suite, a more advanced collision avoidance system, and an auto-parking suite are all part of the 'Assistance package' on the base Q5 ($1769 on 40TDI, $2300 on 45 TFSI), but become standard on the mid-grade Sport.
As for the more expected safety items, the Q5 gets the standard suite of electronic assistance items for traction and braking, with eight airbags (dual front, quad side, and dual curtain), and an active bonnet for pedestrian collisions.
The facelifted Q5 will carry over its excellent-at-the-time maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017.
Even the cheapest Mazda CX-5 gets blind spot monitoring, a driver attention alert, forward collision warning with AEB front and rear, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, active cruise, a reverse camera, rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert.
Springing for the Touring Active adds front parking sensors and a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, while the GT SP adds Mazda's Adaptive Front-Lighting.
The entire CX-5 range wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, but was last tested back in 2017.
Audi persists with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is well behind the pace given its primary rival Mercedes-Benz is now offering five years, emerging rival Genesis also offers five years, and Japanese alternative Lexus offers four years. Still, many of its other rivals, including BMW and Range Rover, persist with three-year promises, so the brand is hardly alone here.
Audi does score some major points for having more affordable pre-paid service packages. At the time of writing, a five-year service pack for the 40 TDI comes in at $3160 or $632 a year, and a pack for the 45 TFSI comes in at $2720 or $544 a year. Super affordable for a premium brand.
The Mazda CX-5 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty - which is about middle of the road by today’s standard. You also get capped price servicing, and a trip to the dealership will be required every 10,000kms.
You can expect to pay around $350 for each of the first five services.