Six years after the launch of the original CX-5 SUV, Mazda’s SkyActiv model revolution has come full circle.
Having touched the Mazda 3 hatchback and saloon, the bigger 6 saloon, the 2 supermini, the CX-3 crossover and even the fourth-generation MX-5 sports car, this curiously named programme of technological overhaul – which has brought new platforms, new engines and new thinking to the Japanese firm – has returned its focus to this: the second-generation CX-5.
Predictably, there’s less of a gleam of radical newness to this car than there was to its predecessor, as Mazda inevitably enters a period of consolidation and refinement.
But there’s now a weight of expectation on the CX-5’s shoulders created by the success of the car that it’s replacing.
The first CX-5 got in fairly early on the current craze for SUVs and of which a remarkable 1.5 million units were built and sold around the world over a six-year lifespan. The CX-5 now accounts for 25 percent of Mazda’s global sales volume.
Such popularity could be significant for this replacement, since a stronger established business case will likely have markedly increased the money and resource Mazda was willing to sink into this car than might have been invested otherwise.
There’s no expensive new platform to eat up the lion’s share of that development budget, either: the car sits on an updated version of its predecessor’s mechanical underpinnings, although an extensive model replacement programme has – according to Mazda – altered the car’s dimensions and exterior styling, made it more rigid, improved its steering, suspension and braking systems and given it a completely new interior.
This time around, Mazda is promising the same taut and agile handling that made the previous CX-5 so appealing to keener drivers shopping for a typically soft compact SUV, but partnered with a much more expensive-feeling and better-equipped interior and much improved cabin refinement.
The company plainly has the SUV segment’s premium and ‘semi-premium’ brand players in its sights but is setting out to undercut them by several thousand pounds in some cases once equipment level is taken into account. So where’s the catch?