The days of big Aussie sedans crisscrossing our magnificent continent are just about over. Mid to large-sized SUV’s can lay claim to that with one such example being the Mazda CX-5. The petrol all-wheel-drive (AWD) variant now comes with a bit more plonk and a dash of towing ability thrown in.
In 2013 the Mazda CX-5 range was boosted by a larger capacity 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Available on AWD models it produces a credible 138kW @5700rpm. 250Nm arrives after a fair shove @4000rpm, leaving the 2.0-litre engine reserved for the FWD model in its wake.
As is common today, there is also a 2.2-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel option in the CX-5 range. Much healthier figures of 129kW @4500rpm and 420Nm @2000 rpm spark the interest of many.
We’ll focus on the bigger petrol unit, having spent a week behind the wheel.
The six-speed auto is seamless. Rapid flicking of the tachometer needle proves it is up with the best. In the pursuit of keeping things green, the transmission has a predilection for hanging onto gears longer. Fortunately this can be overridden via a manual mode.
The accelerator has a “kick-down” switch which provides a slight resistance against full throttle. No doubt an annoyance when towing up long, steep grades.
A braked trailer up to 1,800kg is tolerated, unbraked 750kg with a 150kg tow ball downward load limit. The Maxx Sport’s kerb weight is 1560kg with a 2700mm wheelbase.
Mazda’s suite of “SKYACTIV” efficiency measures produce a claimed economy figure of 7.4l/100km, the diesel just 5.7l/100km.
Fuel saving measures such as “i-stop” cut the engine when stationary. Thankfully the feature can be disabled, for example when pulling away from a boat ramp.
A flick through any vehicle manual is important before hitching something to the back.
Mazda issues a warning that towing during the first 1,000 km is not recommended at all. Possible damage to power train components may arise. If driven primarily as a tow vehicle the rear differential fluid is replaced every 40,000km. Servicing intervals of 10,000km or 6 months apply and anything other than a Mazda tow bar should not be fitted.
The sales charts don’t lie; drive a CX-5 and it’s obvious why.
Any Mazda is an inviting place to be. They do affordable interiors better than the rest, I place them only a tad behind what Volkswagen do. Fit and finish is sharp, quality materials are utilised in the right places.
The model tested is well equipped. Auto headlamps and wipers, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, TomTom satellite navigation, reversing camera and Bluetooth are the headline acts. The 5.8 colour touchscreen is smallish compared to others.
You never feel like you are sitting “in” the CX-5, it is more of a bird perched on a branch feel. But this is basically a universal SUV trait. Visibility all round is superb.
Cabin space is very good, with a tall ceiling extending past the rear seat. Four large adults would be comfortable; five would quickly lead to a blue. Parents and kids are the ideal combo.
In a room of ten people, my tip is eight would give the CX-5 styling an approving nod. It is one of those cars that just works from any angle. Mazda is pumping out sexy, edgy creations. Except that poor, unfortunate and misunderstood BT-50.
The CX-5 drives competently, no SUV has sedan-like handling but Mazda manages to come close. Direct, fluid steering combined with a stable, flat stance make for an engaging drive. When pushed the front outside wheel cops the hardest treatment. But the usual array of stability control technology will intervene.
I’m envious of box trailer owners; their ability to offload junk at-will annoys me. This is what cars like the Mazda CX-5 will realistically be used for. Mowing franchise owners, mobile dog groomers and camper trailer fanatics will be right at home in one.
Smaller caravan owners may also show some interest. The figures suggest a bit of caravanning fun is possible. But personally towing anything would be a second or third reason for buying one.
It just doesn’t feel like the type of machine comfortable pulling a 4-birth caravan around all day even though on paper it can.
Our test model is priced at $36,620 before on roads.