On the inside, the CX-5 offers a pretty typical amount of both passenger room and boot space for a compact SUV or a bigger crossover hatchback; a little bit more than, say, a Volvo XC40, but not as much as a Skoda Kodiaq or Honda CR-V. Back seats with adjustable backrests and 40:20:40 split-folding functionality are very welcome, as is the fold-down centre armrest, which provides not only cupholders but also USB power sockets.
Our mid-spec Sport-trim car comes with leather upholstery as standard and a generous amount of active safety kit. The cabin’s a little bit monotone, but the chrome-effect garnish on the switchgear and air vents makes for an understated sense of ambient quality that suits the car well and makes it a pleasant place in which to spend time.
The infotainment system has been refined, now having a larger usable screen. It’ll be favoured by some because it retains a rotary input knob, along with some shortcut keys, down on the transmission tunnel, so you don’t have to prod it with your finger and cover the display screen in grease if you don’t want to. Unfortunately, it’s not the most responsive, intuitive-to-use or crisp-looking system, but it does at least offer smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android as standard, so you can add your own music streaming and web-networked functionality pretty easily.
Mazda has been incrementally chipping away at refining this CX-5's ride and handling since its introduction three years ago. Although the car’s dynamics were pretty well received back in 2017, Mazda reappraised them for last year’s version of the car, re-rating its anti-roll bars, dampers and suspension bushings. It also added its latest active torque vectoring software to the car last year – something called G-Vectoring Control Plus – which uses both combustion control and braking intervention to subtly manipulate the loading of the car’s contact patches to the alleged improvement of both body control and handling precision. For this model year, it has left well enough alone, electing only to seek to improve cabin sealing and engine isolation with a handful of new refinement measures.
If the car is constantly juggling and adjusting your throttle and braking inputs, you’re certainly not aware it’s doing so. The CX-5 remains a very agreeable car to drive. It’s slightly tauter in its body control, meatier feeling through its controls and crisper and more linear in its responses than the average small SUV. It doesn’t smother bumps in the road quite as effectively as some and is guilty of tripping somewhat clumsily over the odd sharp edge or sunken drain in the road. Nevertheless, it remains more than quiet and comfortable enough to fit in with family life.