The SUV market has exploded in Australia in recent years, with almost 22,000 SUV’s sold in April compared with just over 40,000 passenger cars. Mazda are no strangers to the SUV market with the CX-7 and CX-9 but their most recent launch, the CX-5, impresses from first look.
Having driven the CX-9 and been impressed by its general ride and handling, and owning a small base model Mazda 2, I was prepared to be impressed by the CX-5. But it’s really not until you get a few kilometres under your belt that you get a sense of how well this vehicle is built.
First and foremost Mazda have (thankfully) started to move away from the curvy, droopy front end look of the CX-7 and CX-9 with its all over rounded edges. The CX-5 seems to have struck a better balance of visual design with some harder edges, and an all new front end look which I think challenges the look of the BMW X1 and X3 in general style.
I guarantee that When that new look front end reaches across the entire Mazda range, there’ll be a huge boost in sales. No question.
Behind the wheel of the CX-5 you naturally feel that little bit higher up with the raised platform of the SUV, but apart from that you’ll feel at home here if you’re used to a small or medium vehicle.
It’s certainly not cramped, especially for the driver with ample space all around.
You’ll get a real sense of comfort in all normal road conditions, and as a daily drive there’s nothing to dislike about the CX-5.
If you get a big of a rush of blood around corners or smooth turns you’ll be impressed with almost hatchback like handling.
Mazda do affordable quality interiors very well. The finish across the dash, the door liners and the integration of the advanced technology in the dash are a credit to Mazda design and engineering teams. Aside from the obligatory steering wheel controls for volume and track changes, the main audio controls are done on a touch screen mounted high in the centre dash. The screen could be bigger to add to the overall experience, and the font and layout isn’t the best I’ve seen, however it is functional and easy to use.
With full Bluetooth connectivity for not just your phone but also your streaming audio, as well as an AUX input and USB with iPod/iPhone compatibility you won’t be left searching for audio options in the CX-5
Sure, it’s a 5 seater, but in reality this is a mid sized car that will seat 4 adults in comfort and would be good for any small family. But don’t expect to squeeze three child seats in the back of the CX-5 with ease.
There are a couple of features in the CX-5 which might just surprise you at the lights.
Firstly, i-stop is a Mazda feature aimed at saving petrol. If you come to a stop (at the lights perhaps) and engage neutral, when you release the clutch the engine actually turns off. Essentially it’s just like putting the key in ‘accessory’ mode with the air-conditioner and radio all working as normal. Simply press the clutch again and your engine will start up to see you off and running in no time. It does seem strange at first, but if it saves a few cents here and there it’s worth changing your habit to putting a manual into neutral at the lights if you don’t already do so.
Secondly, the hill-start assist function really makes life easy. Instead of requiring the hand brake, the CX-5 assists by maintaining brake pressure for a second or two after you’ve taken your foot off the brake pedal. This lets you slowly release the clutch at your own pace, without worrying about rolling backwards. You’ll notice this helping you more often than not, even in normal daily driving.
This is a great car, and priced from the low $30,000 mark plus on-roads this is a viable alternative to the Subaru Forrester, Kia Sportage, VW Tiguan and a whole range more, as well as a possible step up from people browsing the medium car options out there.
You will pay upwards of $52,000 for the Grand Touring All Wheel Drive model with the Diesel engine and ‘tech pack’ included.
The Tech Pack is worth noting, with features like Blind Spot Monitoring, High Beam Control and Lane Departure Warning at the upper range for Mazda.
With an impressive design and a ride and handling that you’ll find makes the day to day commute or the long country drive both comfortable and easy, the CX-5 is well worth a test drive at your local dealer.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.