First DriveSharper looks, a more luxurious interior and an engaging chassis thrust new Mazda CX-5 towards the top of the mid-sized SUV class
First DriveThe headline-grabbing Mazda CX-5 returns the best fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions of any model in the range, and is a top-level contender in the class
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.
Going with the base model means 17-inch alloys, which endows the CX-5 with a pliant ride that should serve UK drivers well. Though body movement is noticeable it’s all very progressive, and occupants are well-isolated from the road’s surface.
Perhaps more impressive even than the flowing, precise responses of the car is its packaging. In this class buyers want liveability, and the CX-5 offers interior space that matches the best in class – particularly in terms of the generous rear passenger space.
Refinement is also hard to criticise. Some wind flutter over the wing mirrors and general tyre noise makes for a noticeable background hum but by class standards cabin noise is relatively hushed.
It’s a seriously well-judged package in terms of usability and driver reward. Think well-sorted everyday hatchback with SUV appeal and interior practicality, and your expectations of the CX-5 will be about spot-on.
Should I buy one?
When it eventually hits the showrooms early next year, yes. Much of the car’s success will hang on its pricing, but expect standard kit levels to be very high even if the CX-5 will be placed closer to the premium rivals.
This petrol car is one of the most rewarding models to drive, even if the impressive running costs of the diesels will guarantee that the petrol will make up for a very small percentage of sales. Even so, predicted C02 output of around 139g/km for this car is still impressive, and those covering fewer miles shouldn’t discount it. It should make for very easy motoring.
Mazda CX-5 2.0 manual
Price: £20,500 (est); Top speed: 125mph (est); 0-62mph: 8.7sec (est); Economy: 48mpg (est); Co2: 139g/km (est) ; Kerb weight: 1480kg (est); Engine type: 1997cc, 4cyl, petrol; Power: 162bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 155lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual