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Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2012 review

‘Zoom-Zoom’ goes the Mazda brand hook - but in the case of the new CX-5, the Japanese automaker’s latest addition to the SUV jungle, maybe it should be just ‘Zoom’. 

Our recent experience with the petrol-powered version of the new CX-5 performance-wise was underwhelming, to say the least. On the other hand, if perky performance is not near the top of the shopping list, the petrol CX-5 has much to offer.

The CX-5 is also the first of Mazda’s new-generation products here to fully adopt its SkyActiv technology to powertrains, body structure and chassis.

Design and equipment 

The body is based on an entirely new structure, uses new materials and is assembled in new processes. It is the first to use 1800MP, a high-tensile steel, the highest grade used in a mass produced vehicle for front and rear bumper beams. The body uses 61 per cent high-tensile steel.

The CX-5 is the first production model to feature Mazda’s new Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme – based on the movements of animals, in this case the cheetah.

There’s no denying the CX-5 sets the standard for good looks in the medium SUV market as positive comments from interested onlookers proved during our time with the vehicle.

The CX-5, from top to bottom, is stacked with standard features, which include air-conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control, CX-5MP3/WMA compatible CD player with four speakers and steering wheel mounted audio controls, plus USB input. Mazda satellite navigation is based on the TomTom system.

Added convenience comes from power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, smart keyless push-button start, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel, trip computer and a tyre pressure monitoring system for the first time in this segment.

The Maxx Sport spoils its owners with auto headlamps on/off, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, two extra audio speakers, leather wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake and steering wheel, wipers with rain sensing function, front fog lamps, satellite navigation, rear seats with 40/20/40 split fold back and centre fold-down armrest.

Engines and mechanical 

Mazda CX-5 is powered by either a 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel, with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive and in three specification levels - Maxx, Maxx Sport and Grand Touring - all with Mazda’s i-stop fuel saving system in which the engine cuts out when not needed, most commonly when the vehicle stops at traffic lights. It starts up automatically when the brake pedal is released.

The review CX-5 we have just spent a week testing was the Maxx Sport 2.0-litre petrol front-wheel drive with six-speed automatic transmission. The DOHC engine puts out 114 KW of power at 6000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 2000 revs, good for a zero-to-100 km/h time of 9.4 seconds.

As befitting its ‘Sport’ moniker, this Maxx rolls on 17-inch steel wheels shod with 225/65 tyres. A rear spoiler completes the picture as well as adding to aerodynamic efficiency.

A new suspension system, with front struts and rear multi-link layout, is lighter yet stiffer and a new steering system adjusts feedback according to speed and conditions.


There’s a full suite of safety systems including ABS with emergency brake assist and brake-force distribution; dynamic stability control; traction control; an emergency stop rear lamp signal, front, side and curtain airbags, whiplash minimising front seats and a reversing camera.


The test car, in automatic, suffered from sluggish take-off and the problem of running out of legs on steep climbs. This could be overcome by flicking into manual mode and giving the powertrain a hand.

Sluggish performance apart, fuel economy is outstanding, the SkyActiv engine. Mazda claims 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined city / highway cycle. In the CX-5 Maxx Sport FWD automatic we managed 5.8 litres per 100km in similar circumstances.

Inside, new seats deliver good lateral and vertical grip and improved thigh and lumbar support. Using two different kinds of black fabric and a new structure, they also weigh less.

Quality is carried through to the surroundings, with soft-touch dashboard surfaces and door trim offset by a central panel featuring the glossy piano black treatment pioneered in the RX-8.

As for carrying capacity, a tonneau cover that opens and closes with the tailgate crowns a rear cargo area capable of carrying 403 litres of cargo up to the tonneau. That expands to 1560 litres of flat cargo space with the rear seat backs folded.

A low loading lip, large rear opening and an automatic seat folding system lift cargo carrying convenience to a new level.


The new Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.0-litre petrol FWD automatic looks good, rides well, at $33,540 is in the market sweet spot, and takes medium SUV specification to a new level. If only the petrol engine was more responsive.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Grand Tourer (4x4) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,200 – 17,600 2012 Mazda CX-5 2012 Grand Tourer (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,400 – 14,190 2012 Mazda CX-5 2012 Maxx (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x4) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,500 – 15,400 2012 Mazda CX-5 2012 Maxx (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Maxx Sport (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,900 – 14,850 2012 Mazda CX-5 2012 Maxx Sport (4x2) Pricing and Specs