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Mazda CX-5 GT 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Derek Ogden road tests and reviews the Mazda CX-5 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

To be honest, at first I found the CX-5 hard to warm to. At its launch in February 2012, the Mazda sports utility vehicle showed a distinct lack of get up and go.

In the intervening years, however, the maker has obviously put in the work on the vehicle's performance, because the latest iteration has found its mojo and deservedly joins the ranks of what has become Australia's most popular SUV, selling almost 1700 units a month, with total sales now approaching 60,000.

The Mazda CX-5 GT 2.5-litre petrol AWD (our test vehicle) is but one of a long line of CX-5s; from the entry-level Maxx with six-speed manual transmission on sale from $27,190.

That's $610 less than the previous model, thanks to the new Japanese Free Trade agreement. Similar savings are to be made across all four grades – Maxx, Maxx Sport, Grand Touring and Akera.

As well as internal and external styling changes, the introduction of new Mazda's i-ActiveSense technologies takes safety to a new level, while improved dynamics add to the driving experience.

New CX-5 features MZD Connect, Mazda's advanced next-generation car connectivity system that includes a seven-inch touch screen display operated by a centre-console commander control knob.

Design

The new CX-5 puts on a bolder face with the mesh-style radiator grille replaced by five horizontal slats painted metallic grey and incorporating interesting engraving. The design is repeated in the LED fog lamp bezels.

Mazda tells us the LED headlights are designed to mimic eyes exhibiting an expressive look into the distance. At the rear the LEDs are called on to create a sharp line from the tail-lamps toward the centre of the vehicle, giving the rear view a taut look. So there you have it...

Compact door mirrors incorporate LED turn signals which can be seen even from the front, making it easy for all-round identification of the CX-5.

The CX-5 cabin maintains Mazda's ability to place instruments and controls best positioned for the driver

The entire 2015 upgrade is underpinned by stylish 19-inch wheels with gun metal highlights contrasting with the machining on its five twin spokes.

The CX-5 cabin maintains Mazda's ability to place instruments and controls best positioned for the driver but has spent time and effort refining how information is presented to the person behind the wheel.

Significant changes have been made to the centre stack and floor console, the latter being made taller and more defined, to bring the gear lever, commander control knob and surrounding switches closer to hand.

An electric parking brake – a first in a Mazda - removes the need for a bulky handbrake lever and gives the top of the console a clean, uncluttered look.

The upholstery of the test vehicle – white leather seats contrasting with black leather trim – without due care and attention, could throw up some soiling issues, especially in the presence of grubby children. Family wagon this ain't – unless of course, you are lucky enough to have kids who clean up after themselves.

Features

Our test CX-5 GT featured Mazda's MZD Connect, an advanced connectivity system which puts cabin occupants in touch with the internet and provides access to social networking services.

Focus of this connectivity is via a full-colour touchscreen display on the central dashboard and multifunction command controller – a knob on the centre console surrounded by related function switches.

It offers Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio such as Aha with access more than 100,000 broadcasters from around the world, including BBC and CNN; Stitcher on-demand, which provides more than 15,000 talk shows, music programs and podcasts; and Pandora, a radio service for subscribers to create up to 100 personalised stations and listen to continuous music, or search for similar songs for automatic playback.

All this is played through a Premium Bose 231-watt amplifier and nine speakers.

Engine / Transmission

In 2012, the CX-5 introduced Mazda's efficient SkyActiv powertrains to the SUV world. Our CX-5 Grand Touring test car was fitted with a 2.5-litre SkyActiv petrol engine coupled with a six-speed SkyActiv automatic transmission. The two units co-operate with one another well and provide relaxed travel.

The Mazda four-cylinder direct injection engine, with the fuel saving stop/start system, puts out maximum power of 138kW at 5700 rpm and top torque of 250Nm at 4000 revs, with a claimed combined highway/urban fuel consumption of 7.4L/100km and carbon dioxide emissions of 172g/km.

The maker claims Skyactiv-Drive is a system for all seasons, combining benefits of conventional torque converter automatics, continuously variable transmissions and dual clutch transmissions.

Safety

Active and passive safety measures are paramount with automobile makers these days, and Mazda is no different. As well as the use of high tensile steel in 61 per cent of the structure, the CX-5 carries front, side and curtain airbags as standard on all models, the front seatbelts incorporating pretensioners as well as load limiters to mitigate chest impacts.

Active safety includes ABS anti-skid brake system with electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist. There's also dynamic stability control.

The GT has adaptive headlamps that automatically dim on the approach of a vehicle ahead, or the rear of one in front.

Further i-Activsense systems are on offer in a safety pack option, which includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and smart city brake support for a very reasonable $1060.

Driving

Seats of the new Mazda CX-5 offer a high standard of comfort capable of making even long journeys less arduous. It's all down to Grand Touring style with the driver's seat having two-position memory function and eight-way power adjustment, six-way power adjustment for the front passenger), plus heating function and lumbar support adjustment for the driver.

The initial woes with CX-5 performance have been firmly put aside

Mazda CX-5's suspension remains basically unchanged, but does have a revised structure for the front and rear dampers. Bushing shapes for the front lower arms have also been modified.

Cabin noise has been cut by more than 10 per cent when driving at highway speeds using 'path-blocking and concentrated sound absorption', that aims to shut out the various paths by which sound penetrates the cabin and absorb the sound effectively.

As mentioned previously, the initial woes with CX-5 performance have been firmly put aside and, as befits a vehicle with the Grand Touring tag, there's now something extra to tempt the driver.

The automatic transmission now has Drive Selection, which allows drivers to press a switch beside the shift lever to move into a Sport drive mode. This increases the amount of torque put out when the accelerator is pressed further to deliver powerful acceleration with minimum pedal action. Zoom-Zoom!

As well as adding a measure of fun to proceedings, this is particularly useful in manoeuvres such as overtaking, or merging onto a crowded highway.

Ignoring the Eco mode for the sake of saving petrol, the test CX-5 GT got close to 12.0L/100km with a load up around town and half that (6.2L/100km) on the highway.

Verdict

Throwing aside early signs of weakness, the MY15 Mazda CX-5 continues to muscle up to take on some of the most competitive opponents in the mid-size SUV segment.

Pricing guides

$23,990
Based on 396 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$12,990
Highest Price
$33,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Akera (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $20,200 – 27,500 2015 Mazda CX-5 2015 Akera (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Grand Tourer (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $19,200 – 26,730 2015 Mazda CX-5 2015 Grand Tourer (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GT (4X4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $19,100 – 26,620 2015 Mazda CX-5 2015 GT (4X4) Pricing and Specs
GT Safety (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,300 – 25,520 2015 Mazda CX-5 2015 GT Safety (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$12,990

Lowest price, based on 388 car listings in the last 6 months

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