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Mazda CX-5 Akera petrol 2018 review


Families have a fair few things to think about when buying a car. You want enough space for everyone to fit comfortably plus the boot space to lug the stuff around that accumulates when you have kids. You want it to drive well.  You want it to be as safe as possible. And of course, you want it to look good. Really good. How hard can it be?

This week I drove the Mazda CX-5, one of the most popular five seat SUVs in Australia. I was in the Akera which is top of the range and had the petrol version to test with my family over seven days, and find out whether it ticked all those boxes.

What does it look like?

The exterior of the CX-5 is sleek and stylish, this new model hasn't changed much since the last and the shape is still very current, very right now. It wouldn't be hard to mistake a Mazda for a more expensive car, because of the current range's fabulous looks with curved lines and a sedate grille giving a polished finish.

  • The Mazda CX-5 features 90-degree opening rear doors and a full suite of active safety kit across the range. The Mazda CX-5 features 90-degree opening rear doors and a full suite of active safety kit across the range.
  • The shape is still very current, very right now. The shape is still very current, very right now.
  • The current range's fabulous looks feature curved lines and a sedate grille giving a polished finish. The current range's fabulous looks feature curved lines and a sedate grille giving a polished finish.

Inside is just as swish, but do bear in mind I was in the top of the range Akera which is different to a bottom of the range Maxx. In the Akera you'll get leather seats that are very comfortable to sit on, and can also be heated, plus a leather steering wheel that feels great to touch. I can't wait for Mazda to jump on the flat-bottomed steering-wheel train as I think they lend a sportier feel to driving.

The dash is faux leather which gives a stylish finish that is soft to touch, I love that tactile feel. There's just the right amount of gloss through the centre console and everything is clearly set out and within reaching distance, so it's functional, too. There's a small sunroof above the front seats to let the light in in this top of the range model.

  • In the Akera you'll get leather seats that are very comfortable to sit on, and can also be heated, plus a leather steering wheel. In the Akera you'll get leather seats that are very comfortable to sit on, and can also be heated, plus a leather steering wheel.
  • Inside is just as swish, but do bear in mind I was in the top of the range Akera. Inside is just as swish, but do bear in mind I was in the top of the range Akera.

How does it drive?

Smooth and silky, the drive is comfortable, with just the right amount of heaviness versus lightness in the take-off. I don't feel like it's lagging behind, the car goes when you put your foot down on the accelerator. The steering is evenly weighted and easy to turn. You get in and feel immediately confident because the car handles so well.

There's a 2.5-litre engine which is really great for a car this size and it gets up hills swiftly, without hesitation. The Akera is all-wheel drive which means you'll get great traction on the roads and I always appreciate that if going away on a long weekend where you drive on bumpy, muddy or gravelly roads to reach a remote house. It's also a sizeable car which makes you feel safe on long journeys, especially with kids in the back, but it's not super huge.

Smooth and silky, the drive is comfortable. Smooth and silky, the drive is comfortable.

Parking is relatively easy as you've got front, reverse and 360-degree view cameras to make it virtually impossible to nick the car while squeezing in or out of parks.

I particularly like the 360 view camera if I'm parking next to a wall, for example, it just makes the space a lot clearer and you can see where you are.

The turning circle in a CX-5 is 11.0m which is fairly large but average for a car in this category. It means you won't get as many u-turns in and will instead do three-point turns, but that's actually fine because the steering is so easy and the gears change quickly without pause.

There's a 2.5-litre engine which is really great for a car this size and it gets up hills swiftly, without hesitation. There's a 2.5-litre engine which is really great for a car this size and it gets up hills swiftly, without hesitation.

How spacious is it?

The cabin is really nice and large, light and breezy. You don't feel cramped at all. My 185cm husband and I had plenty of leg and headspace in the front and there was lots of airflow and elbow space for two.

  • The boot is on the smaller end for this category, at 442 litres. The boot is on the smaller end for this category, at 442 litres.
  • There is still enough room for a family of four. There is still enough room for a family of four.
  • Even though it's smaller, it's not in any way small and has a good amount of space. Even though it's smaller, it's not in any way small and has a good amount of space.

My two children aged five and seven had a good amount of room in the back seats, and were far enough apart not to cause unnecessary squabbles. You'll be able to get a third child seat in there, too. I tried it with two booster seats and a baby capsule, which fit. It will be tight, especially doing the seat belts up for the boosters, but it will fit.

The boot is on the smaller end for this category, at 442 litres it's smaller than a Volkswagen Tiguan or Toyota RAV-4, but there is still enough room for a family of four. I've taken this car away before and it really did fit everything we needed. So even though it's smaller, it's not in any way small and has a good amount of space.

  • My two children aged five and seven had a good amount of room in the back seats, and were far enough apart not to cause unnecessary squabbles. My two children aged five and seven had a good amount of room in the back seats, and were far enough apart not to cause unnecessary squabbles.
  • There are two cupholders in the back that will house a large keep cup, and two in the centre armrest in the back. There are two cupholders in the back that will house a large keep cup, and two in the centre armrest in the back.

How easy is it to use every day?

The children were easily able to climb into the car themselves so it was a good height off the ground, and the boot is also a great height to lift groceries in and out of so you're not hoisting things through your lower back.

Parking is relatively easy as you've got front, reverse and 360-degree view cameras. Parking is relatively easy as you've got front, reverse and 360-degree view cameras.

There are two cupholders in the back that will house a large keep cup, and two in the centre armrest in the back, plus a bottle holder in each door and a decent-sized centre storage bin.

The boot opens and closes with a click of a button on the key, which I find super helpful because as parents, we're often overloaded with all the bags (why don't kids carry their own schoolbags?) and it's much easier to open the boot on approach and flick the bags into the back. It feels very much like 2018 when you do that. Everything else was quite functional and I didn't have any complaints with things like blinkers or side mirrors.

It wouldn't be hard to mistake a Mazda for a more expensive car. It wouldn't be hard to mistake a Mazda for a more expensive car.

What's the tech like?

Turn the sound up, that's for sure, because the audio is really good and you can live a less-stressed life if you sing in the car, proven fact.

Mazda relies on its own multimedia system which is perfectly adequate and easy to control with a rotary dial in the centre console. It has a sat nav, digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available to be fitted this year which will elevate the tech to a higher level.

How safe is it?

In the CX-5 Akera, you'll get airbags covering driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row, two ISOFIX points and three top tethers to fit children's car seats safely.

You'll also get all the latest safety technology, including 'Auto Emergency Braking', blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings, front and rear collision warnings and rear cross traffic alerts which save me every morning when I'm reversing out of my driveway with a complete blind spot!

Some of these things aren't even available on more expensive cars or you'll have to pay extra for them. The lower models aren't equipped with everything but with the Akera you'll get the lot. It has a maximum five star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to own?

The Mazda CX-5 Akera lists for $46,190. Fuel consumption comes in at a claimed 7.4L/100km over a combined course, which is fairly average for a car with this sized engine.

It's covered by Mazda's three-year/unlimited km warranty which is below average these days, and servicing is required every 12 months/10,000km.


The Wrap

The CX-5 gives a fairly seamless driving experience once thought hard-to-attain in this price range. It ticks all those boxes I outlined at the beginning - it looks good, drives beautifully, has enough space for a family even with a smaller boot size, and it makes you feel good while driving, which is really one of the most important things about buying a new car.

I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10 because there is a fairly big price difference between the top and bottom of the lines. My children gave it an eight as well, they love having leather seats.

Likes

Interior and exterior design
Smooth driving
Safety features

Dislikes

No Apple Carplay or Android Auto

Scores

Nedahl:

4

The Kids:

4

$41,888 - $53,759

Based on 24 car listings in the last 6 months

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