I’ve long regarded the Mazda CX-5 as the most polished mid-sized SUV in its class, with sales figures only reinforcing that statement. This week in the EFTM Garage we’ve had the CX-5 GT that sees the addition of a turbocharged petrol engine to an already diverse line up.
What is it?
The Mazda CX-5 is literally Australia’s most popular medium SUV. In May 7118 of them left dealerships, with the Mitsubishi Outlander running second with 4905 and the Toyota RAV4 a close third via 4855 sales.
Now why is this? Well simply put Mazda nail a premium feel at a relatively affordable price point. It seats five in comfort, offers decent space and driving dynamics that certainly surpass the others in the top three.
But the main reason the CX-5 is such a hit I reckon is because it’s a good looker. The CX-5 just appears far more expensive and prestigious than what it actually is, call it faking it until you make it if you like. But that sharp sophisticated front-end and modern sleek headlights combined with a dynamic profile and rear-end make it very appealing.
The new engine gives customers a fourth engine option along with 14 variants on offer.
Behind the wheel
Jumping into a GT grade CX-5 is certainly a gratifying experience, one that all other competitors just can’t quite match. Sitting above the Touring variant and below the Akera the GT scores a premium Bose audio system, sunroof and power tailgate. The leather steering wheel feels lovely in the hands, a head up display projected onto the windscreen immediately gives the cabin a modern edge. While the leather seats and carefully crafted, elegant dashboard evoke a feeling normally generated by more premium European offerings.
The new turbocharged powerplant certainly makes for a livelier drive with only just the slightest hint of lag. It’s a strong, willing unit that never sounds stressed or harsh. The on-demand AWD system cleverly sends power to the right wheel when required. This makes the CX-5 one of the more entertaining SUV drives when things get a tad “spirited”.
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine produces a hefty 170kW and 420Nm of torque. Plenty of power for the daily drive with more in reserve for a bit of fun on a country road over a weekend. Power is delivered to all four wheels for a six-speed transmission, with a Sports mode option that holds on to gears for longer.
Mazda courtesy of its i-ACTIVESENSE technology offers Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), radar cruise control, driver attention alert, automatic high beam, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
It also has traffic sign recognition and I noticed for the first time stop sign recognition. Via the head up display a stop sign appears on top of the speed sign graphic, pretty cool.
Mazda’s MZD infotainment screen sits front and centre as a floating style tablet. It’s operated via a commander control with surrounding buttons. Standard now across the range is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are two USB charges up front and two in the centre rear armrest.
As usual the CX-5 GT has done the rounds the here at the office.
Jumping out of the Sorento in the CX-5 it’s noticeably smaller, but the premium Mazda interior really stands out. The touch screen on the infotainment is too far to away to actually use and I wasn’t blown away by the drive, but it was smooth and enjoyable, nonetheless.
There’s little doubt this is the most affordable yet genuinely premium mid-sized SUV around. I think the driving dynamics are pretty much spot on. Although every now and then I feel it’s a tad down on grip from the Toyo Proxes R45 tires on the 19-inch rims.
The Mazda CX-5 GT is priced from $46,970. Fuel economy is rated at 8.2L/100km and is covered by a five year/unlimited warranty. I averaged 9.5L/100km, not overly bad for a turbo petrol engine. You’ll need to return to the dealership every 12 months or 10,000km for a service.
Any Mazda CX-5 is an accomplished performer, the GT with the turbo engine simply adds a bit more grunt for those keen on tad more zest from their daily drive. It’s an 8.5 out of 10 from me.