What is it?:
The headline-grabbing Mazda CX-5 with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. Together with a claimed 61.4mpg on the combined cycle, it represents the lowest running costs of any model in the range. That not only makes the diesel with the lowest power output the most appealing model in the range for most pockets, but also arguably the most appealing in its segment.
Key to these remarkable running costs is Mazda’s SkyActiv technology. The new line of engines has an exceptionally low compression ratio of 14:1, which allows an improved fuel/air mixture. The block is 10 per cent lighter than the standard 2.2-litre Mazda unit, and mechanical friction is reduced by 20 per cent.
The result of these advances, together lightweight structure and more efficient gearboxes, means Mazda can position the CX-5 as a genuine alternative to hybrids and electric vehicles.
What's it like?:
Wonderful, and arguably all the compact SUV you could ever need. Such are the performance and dynamics on offer – a 0-62mph time of 9.2sec is cited – that it’s easy to wonder why buyers would be tempted by the high-power, 173bhp version of the same engine.
The engine is refined, even from a cold start-up and, unless pushed hard, is hushed. Perhaps that’s why wind and road noise make themselves known at speed. It’s generally a quiet way to eat up hundreds of relaxed motorway miles.
Mazda’s Tiguan rival feels as though it has plenty of urge too. Its power delivery is smooth, with little noticeable turbo lag; the product of a twin-turbo configuration. Power is rated at 148bhp at 4500rpm, and torque hits its peak of 280lb ft between 1800 and 2600rpm.
Mazda continues its reputation of installing some of the best manual gearboxes in the business, and the six-speeder is flick-of-the-wrist slick.
The steering is communicative, although slightly artificial-feeling at times, but generally it makes the most of the CX-5 well-judged chassis. Ride is good, even on 19-inch wheels, but the thinner rubber means an increase in road noise.
Mazda has delivered a well-thought-out cabin, constructed with the quality we’ve come to expect. It’s comfortable too. Refreshingly, there is virtually no carry-over from any other model – Mazda says this is an all-new car, and it really means it.
Should I buy one?:
Yes. The low-power diesel is certainly the one to have, unless four-wheel drive is a requirement – you’ll need to step up to the 173bhp model to gain that.
The CX-5 is superbly finished, cheap to run and fun to drive. Its diesel powertrain delivers efficiency at least as good as an equivalent hybrid. We would have liked a touch more steering feel and a little less road noise, but the class has another top-level contender.
Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150PS SE-L Nav manual
Price: £23,395; 0-62mph: 9.2sec; Top speed: 126mph; Economy: 61.4mpg; CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 1525kg, Engine: 2191cc, in-line four cylinder; Power: 148bhp at 4500rpm: Torque: 280lb ft at 1800-2600rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual