What is it?
The cheapest way you’ll find into the new Mazda CX-5. Fitted with a 2.0-litre 162bhp petrol motor and a manual gearbox that sends drive to the front wheels, this is the only flavour of petrol CX-5 due to hit UK showrooms.
Mazda’s new compact SUV is new from the ground up, and whilst the diesel models will form the bulk of the UK sales this petrol variant is crucial to the car’s global appeal and therefore has been lavished with the same technical innovations as the diesel.
The all-alloy motor gets a benchmark compression ratio of just 14.0:1, the structure is lighter and 30 per cent more rigid than previous mainstream Mazdas, and the car as a whole is a showcase of just what the Japanese maker can do when it starts with a clean sheet.
What’s it like?
Very good. This petrol model has a lighter feel to its responses than the diesel, which remains the heavier car despite its alloy construction, and for all that it lacks the four-wheel drive it turns-in well and offers an impressively sharp and predictable drive for a car of this type.
The new six-speed manual transmission is a big leap forward on the ‘box it replaces, offering a satisfyingly short and precise shift that encourages you to make the most of what the car has to offer. And the engine responds well to that sort of hard use. It’s very linear, gradual power delivery doesn’t sit so well with the utilitarian nature of the car as the torquey diesel but by any standards it’s an exceptionally competitive and enjoyable engine.