What is it?
When the original Mazda CX-5 launched in 2012, SUVs accounted for just 2% of its UK sales. A decade later and as the second-generation Mazda enters the second half of its lifecycle, that proportion has climbed to 60%.
That’s emblematic of not just of the success of the model itself but also the meteoric surge in the popularity of family SUVs as a whole over the past decade, which means the CX-5 now contends with a field of rivals that is one of the most comprehensive and most competitive of any on the market.
This is actually the latest in a series of updates for the second-generation car since it was launched in 2017, but the closest to what you’d recognise as a mid-life facelift. New for the 2022 Mazda CX-5 is a revamped front end (note the chunkier grille surround and redesigned LED headlight clusters), a claimed boost in rolling refinement and the addition of a new drive mode select function on automatic models, called Mi-Drive, which brings dedicated Sport and Off-road driving modes.
The line-up has also been shuffled to accommodate the oddly named Newground trim, which comes in a divisive shade of Zircon Sand Metallic (other, less flattering names have been suggested - although this tester appreciates any colour that isn’t silver, grey or white being offered) and brings bright green trim accents and seat piping. If nothing else, it’s an effective means of exhibiting individuality in this, the most crowded – nay, ubiquitous – market segment, but entry-level SE-L and best-selling Sport are more familiar in their conception.
Mazda also claims to have boosted ride comfort and refinement with modifications to the CX-5’s bodyshell – chiefly for enhanced lateral rigidity – and tweaks to the suspension’s damping settings with the aim of reducing pitch and roll. This focus on comfort extends to the reshaped seats, which “use their shape and the entire cushioned surface both keep the pelvis upright, and optimise the curvature of the spine”. Chiropractors rejoice.
We spent most of our time in the range-topping GT Sport car, equipped with Mazda’s most powerful engine, a 191bhp 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, sending its reserves to both axles. Unlike the bulk of its rivals, the CX-5 is not available with a hybrid powertrain as yet, although start-stop is standard fare and this engine is equipped with cylinder deactivation for reduced consumption at a cruise.