What is it?
We’ve already driven the CX-5 back when it was still a prototype and came away impressed, but this is our first chance behind the wheel of the finished article. It’s the first model from the firm to use all of the Skyactiv technology in one place, and thankfully for Mazda the end result plays true to our early expectations.
What’s it like?
There’s one petrol and two 2.2-litre diesel engines, the latter available with either 148bhp or 173bhp outputs. It’s the four wheel drive high power model tested here, which from the moment it’s started proves to be suitably special. There’s little in the way of clatter or vibration, even on ignition, and on the move the only noise that detracts from the experience is wind or tyre roar.
This sensation of refinement prevails all the way to the legal limit too, and the performance is almost petrol like in its style and rate of acceleration. Matched to a six-speed manual gearbox with a shift action inspired by the MX-5’s delicate lever it makes for an involving and altogether sportier driving experience than many rivals.
Unfortunately the steering isn’t quite as weighty as the early car’s helm, but though the ride remains firm and roll is admirably resisted, there is some extra compliance - even on the 19inch rims of our test car. In fact, it’s this supple suspension that really contributes to the overall experience, and you soon realise this CX-5 offers one of the most complete drives in the segment.
It’s an exciting design, both from the outside and in – the cabin is without doubt the best we have seen from the firm with quality materials and cohesive detailing. Those in the driving seat will appreciate the well-judged seating position, while those behind benefit from class leading legroom; it also trumps most rivals with its 503-litre boot space.
Should I buy one?
Overall the Mazda has what it takes – it’s one of the cleanest, fastest and most fun to drive crossovers on the market. But it’s also one of the more expensive, and that may just be enough to stop it taking top honours.
Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D 2.2 Sport NAV
Price: £27,595; 0-62mph: 8.8 seconds; Top speed: 129mph; Economy: 54.3mpg; Co2: 136g/km; Kerbweight: 1530Kg; Engine type: 2191cc, 4cyl, twin-turbodiesel; Power: 173bhp at 4500rpm; Torque: 310lb ft at 2,000rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual