For all of Mazda’s mechanical endeavours, the Mazda CX-5 would stand no chance of success if its interior were not up to the critical small family standard. Plenty of equipment and respectable build quality help it to pass muster, but fairly unimaginative architecture and less-than brilliant materials mean the car is in danger of appearing cheaper than its price tag says it ought to.
The prevailing sight from the driver’s seat, save a clear and sensibly laid-out instrument cluster, is the streamlined swathe of dashboard that tapers over a set-back multimedia centre. The touchscreen functions well enough, even if the menu system and the unit itself look a little old-fashioned.
Beneath it is the heater switchgear, which turns with a gratifyingly solid soft click, while below that, on the centre console adjacent to the handbrake, is a selector wheel and buttons that replicate the controls on the touchscreen. Why? Aside from cluttering up the cabin with more buttons than it requires, there’s no decent reason for the duplication.
The expendable dial also takes up space that would be better used by a second cupholder; it’s unusual for a car of this size and purpose to have only one and is indicative of a general lack of storage compartments.
Fortunately, the CX-5 does a better job of accommodating people than it does clutter. A generous 2700mm wheelbase translates into plentiful legroom in the back, and a 503-litre boot is ample. Mazda continues to persevere with its 40/20/40 rear-seat split: it’s handy for elongated loads, but it tends to preclude carrying a third rear passenger in comfort.
It’s practical, then, and functional enough to service a family’s needs, but Mazda has been nowhere near creative or stylish enough to produce a class-leading cabin.
There are three trim levels to choose from - SE-L Nav, SE-L Lux Nav and Sport Nav. The entry-level model includes 17in alloys, parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers and lights, dual-zone climate control, and Mazda's infotainment system complete with 7.0in touchscreen, sat nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
The mid-range SE-L Lux Nav adds a panoramic sunroof, a leather upholstery, heated front seats and electrically adjustable front seats, while the range-topping Sport Nav model adorns your CX-5 with 19in alloys, adaptive LED headlights, a reversing camera, keyless entry and a Bose sound system.