Malcolm Flynn is spending three months living with the CX-5 Touring petrol, to see how well it fits his family.

December 2, 2017

It’s a rare situation where the cars that we at CarsGuide consider best in class are also the top sellers. Why don’t you agree with us?

The Mazda CX-5 has typically been an exception though, marching straight to the top of our recommendations when the first-generation model arrived in 2012. It also became the best-selling SUV in Australia in 2013, '14, '15 and '16, and it’s looking likely to top the 2017 charts again next month.

However, the second-generation Tiguan hit the old CX-5 right where it hurts when it arrived in late 2016, improving on the Mazda in most areas to snaffle our top pick. It did follow convention by continuing to be outsold by the Mazda by almost 3:1, though.

The second-generation CX-5’s arrival in 2017 realigned the stars by stealing back our #1 pick on the mid-size SUV buying guide, and Tim Robson nominated the new Touring trim level as the sweet spot of the range at its Australian launch.

Given we spent six months with the sweet spot of the Tiguan range last year, it’s only fair we put the best CX-5 through a similar treatment.

We picked our Snowflake White Pearl Mica Touring up with just 1097km on the clock, and instantly regretted not requesting the utterly brilliant Soul Red Crystal Metallic which represents a $300 option - that's affordable, by class standards. Most CX-5’s on the road seem to be white, but I feel this hides a lot of the design details while making the head and tail-lights look a bit too squinty.

With a fresh five-star ANCAP safety rating (tested September 2017) and the standard front and rear city AEB, reversing camera and rear-cross traffic alerts that all new CX-5s get standard, the Touring ticks all the big safety boxes I insist on for my family.

Mazda’s addition of the Touring to the Australian line-up is elementary, as it bridges the $7000 gap between the Maxx Sport and GT that have proven to be the most popular variants in the past.

Thankfully, the Touring sits closer to the Maxx Sport on list price, and for your extra $1600 (equivalent drivetrain), the $38,990 Touring’s key differentiator is black Maztex artificial leather and suede (which we’re pretty sure isn’t actual animal suede) trim. It also adds proximity keys, flip-up Active Driving Display head-up instruments, front parking sensors, heated and auto-folding side mirrors, and traffic sign recognition that detects when you exceed the posted speed limit and warns of stop and no entry signs. 

It’s impossible to pick the Touring from the Maxx Sport visually, with the same 17-inch alloys shared across both variants.

The Touring is still $5400 cheaper than the GT, and misses out on genuine leather trim, a powered tailgate, sunroof, Bose audio, power adjustable front seats with memory settings and seat heaters, and the GT’s Active Driving Display is projected into the windscreen itself instead of the flip-up screen. The GT also gets active headlights and the bigger 19-inch wheels also shared with the top Akera.

The CX-5’s 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel drivetrains are little changed from before, so we chose the $3000 cheaper petrol option to suit our driving habits which are generally limited to around town. Most of you agree too, with the 2.5 making up 60 per cent of CX-5s sold. The diesel accounts for just 25 per cent.  

The 2.5-litre petrol engine therefore means all-wheel drive with the six-speed auto transmission. We don’t need the all-wheel drive, but the auto was a must.

We’ve covered just over 2000km in our first month, most of which was just suburban errand running. Measured carefully at the bowser, our average fuel consumption has been 8.85L/100km, which is within cooee of its 7.5 official combined figure and already well ahead of our overall average with the 1.5-litre Escape. For the record, the diesel CX-5 carries a 6.0L/100km official combined figure.

Aside from the interior dimensions that were massaged outwards in most directions for the new model, we’re stoked about the proper directional air vents that were added to the back of the centre console (note these are still missing from the base Maxx).

The overall cabin length is evidently still shorter than our Escape and Tiguan long-termers, which is only really an issue with our rearward-facing baby seat fitted (via ISOFIX of course!). This results in less space for the front-seat passenger, which will likely be compromising for anyone beyond my 172cm height.

Apple iPhone users would also likely find Mazda’s lack of CarPlay infuriating, but the otherwise excellent MZD Connect multimedia system is still a much better option for my Android family than Android Auto, which is pretty clunky in practice.

Other first impressions include being reminded of how noisy the current Mazda petrol engines are from a cold start - before settling to acceptable levels when warm - and after a year of performing family duties with torquey turbos, the naturally-aspirated CX-5 needs a lot more revs to get the best out of it.

This is further compounded by the auto’s reluctance to downshift when not in Sport mode for the sake of fuel consumption, which can result in dropping two gears at a time when confronted with a steep climb out of a hairpin bend. Not many of us are confronted by hairpins every day though, and it works really well as a package generally.

All in all, we’re off to a good start with no disappointments aside from forgetting to choose a colour other than white.

Start date: November 2017
Distance travelled: 2116km
Odometer reading: 3213km
Average fuel: 8.85L/100km (at the pump)

January 5, 2018

I’m sure you’ll agree that December seems to disappear in a flash every year. It kicks off with end of year parties for work, other peoples’ work, friends, your kids’ friends, and even your pets’ friends for many of us. Not me for the latter.

There’s also the looming end of year shutdown period for most workplaces causing a rush to get things done, Christmas present obligation stress, and if you’re as unlucky as me, a wedding to MC the day before Christmas eve. Hooray.

So the CX-5 Touring really faded into the background this month, which is undoubtedly a good thing, as we spent plenty of time in it working it hard and to capacity.

There were trips to Ikea, Bunnings and even the tyre shop to pick up four new boots for our Zero Bucks Given OverSteer project car.

As mid-size SUVs tend to, the Touring took it all in its stride, with great load-carrying ability even with the baby seat fitted in the back. The new model has an extra 39 litres (VDA) worth of space in the back to now total 442L, which isn’t much, but we’re grateful for any litres we can get.

We’re also big fans of how the retractable cargo blind lifts with the tailgate. This flexible cover is so much better for dealing with capacity loads than the hard type used by most cars, and its integration with the hatch means you’ll never break those little strings that are usually the first thing to fail on a new car.

The retractable cargo blind that lifts with the tailgate is so much better for dealing with capacity loads than the hard type used by most cars. The retractable cargo blind that lifts with the tailgate is so much better for dealing with capacity loads than the hard type used by most cars.

One surprise we noted is that the Touring doesn’t have daytime running lights. It has beautifully detailed headlight internals, but these only come on when the parkers or full headlights are activated.

The Touring has beautifully detailed headlight internals that only come on when the parkers or full headlights are activated. The Touring has beautifully detailed headlight internals that only come on when the parkers or full headlights are activated.

Our Touring thankfully didn’t turn a wheel between Boxing Day and our return to work this week, but the aforementioned wedding meant the ordinarily hectic week of Christmas was particularly manic this year.

In one trip, we travelled from the Blue Mountains to Mittagong, back to Campbelltown, then in the opposite direction to Canberra, then back to Campbelltown again, before eventually touching down in the Blue Mountains again the day after Boxing Day. Sigh, but this also meant packing all the stuff needed to take a baby away for four days, all the gear for two adults to dress up for a wedding, plus (block your ears kids) all the Christmas presents.

The CX-5 Touring's boot fit all the stuff needed to take baby and parents away for four days. The CX-5 Touring's boot fit all the stuff needed to take baby and parents away for four days.

We did it with little strain thanks to the ⅔ vacant back seat, but family demands don’t come much bigger!

Start date: November 2017
Distance travelled: 2544km
Odometer reading: 5757km
Average fuel: 8.92L/100km (at the pump)

What test would you like to see us put the Touring through? Tell us in the comments.