Mazda updated its CX-5 family SUV. And the changes are important, especially when you realize that the midsize SUV makes up a quarter of all Mazdas sold in the UK, surpassed only by the more hatch-like CX-30.
To put the CX-5 value into perspective; since the original’s launch in 2012, over three million vehicles have been sold worldwide, of which over 70,000 have left UK showrooms.
So what has changed? In a nutshell, there’s the usual headlight and grille style tweak found on most mid-life facelifts, regardless of manufacturer. There are also some major changes to the SUV lineup, meaning buyers can now choose from 20 different styling kits, engines and transmissions. Prices start at £28,145 for the 2.0-litre 163bhp SE-L.
There are two petrol engines to choose from: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 163 hp. and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 190 hp. In addition, there are two diesels, both using Mazda’s 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, but in two power options: 148 hp. or 181 hp All are available with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, with the exception of the top petrol engine. It is only available with automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Apparently, only 9% of buyers choose the all-wheel drive version.
Why? Perhaps because one of the strengths of the CX-5 is its exceptional handling. We all know the delights of cult Mazda MX-5 Roadster. Well, get behind the wheel of the CX-5 and you can enjoy the same sharp, positive, perfectly balanced steering with a short mechanical six-speed manual transmission. The combination is pure pleasure.
Engines and performance
I have ridden all three available engine options on a 200 mile journey down the west coast of Scotland in incessant rain. Suffice it to say that both the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions were perfectly stable in wet conditions.
Starting from the entry level with 163 hp. in Sport Black trim (£33,825 when tested), it was just about enough. Quiet and refined, it lacked the mid-range power that most drivers are looking for. Sure, it’s perfect for laps, but I suspect you’ll find yourself craving that extra charm when you need to overtake or speed up on the motorway. Still, it’s no fool: 0-62 mph accelerates in 10.5 seconds and returns around 41.5 mpg.
For the long drive through Glencoe, I had a 190bhp 2.5-litre automatic four-wheel drive. (£38,365 when tested). And, to be honest, given that the worst weather conditions had to be faced at this stage, I was grateful for the safety of the four-wheel drive. However, I found the automatic transmission lagged behind my input, and overall it lacked the glitz and verve of front-wheel-drive manual transmission versions. Of course, you could improve performance if you switched it to sport mode, but it ruined the fun economy, dropping to around 28 mpg during my run.
In a world where the D-word has been practically banished when we focus on fully electric as well as hybridsI wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the 148bhp diesel (£32,790 when tested in Sport trim), but gosh, what a treat.
This was the perfect combination. With its massive torque, it happily pulls from the lowest revs. And somehow it makes the CX-5 feel complete; a marriage made in heaven. Hidden gem.
Shifting delightfully from a six-speed manual, the 2.2-litre diesel actually felt quicker and more planted than both petrols. Frankly, in general, it has become more convenient. In terms of numbers: 0-62 mph takes 9.9 seconds, it has a top speed of 127 mph and a combined fuel figure of 50.4 mpg. What’s not to like? And when CO2-neutral biofuels become available, it will become an easy task.
What about recharging? How about filling up a 56-litre tank in just five minutes? And that will give you a comfortable range of about 600 miles. Electric? Pa!
The cabin of the CX-5 has always been a pleasure to be in, and the facelift just makes the interior even more impressive. It continues to roll well, and the quality of the materials used – already high – has been raised to a new level. Touch anything and you will feel premium.
There is plenty of room for passengers front and rear, and all-round visibility is excellent. The fascia is dominated by a large 10-inch central infotainment screen, which has become standard across the 2021 model lineup. Its position is proudly located on the center console, not in it, for maximum viewing comfort without taking your eyes off the road. long.
I also like the separate set of heating controls, as well as the rotary switch to control the infotainment screen. Millennials may scream “how old fashioned,” but it works reliably and flawlessly. And compared to the hustle and bustle required to operate the touch screen, on-the-go setup in the CX-5 is easy and safe.
As for the trunk, in the standard layout it holds 522 liters; with the rear seats folded down, the volume increases to 163 liters. Diesel models lose several liters due to the need to install an AdBlue engine additive tank. Ouch. And choose the Sport version or higher, and the tailgate will be electronically controlled.
While the SE-L and Sport – the latter predicted to be the best-selling in the UK – have inherited trim from the outgoing CX-5, Sport Black, GT Sport and Newground have now been added to the new lineup. No, I don’t quite understand the new name either, but hey-ho.
The Newground, available only with the 163 hp petrol engine, features a slightly rougher appearance, with silver front and rear underbody trims paired with silver lower body skirts, black exterior mirrors and 19-inch black alloy wheels with diamond cut. Look closely and you’ll notice the subtle lime green grille accents that are reproduced inside with a lime green louvered vent trim. And the black semi-leather seats have matching green piping. The trunk also has a double-sided waterproof cargo board.
New Sport Black, again only available with 163 hp petrol engine. and front-wheel drive, provides what Mazda calls “a sportier interpretation of the CX-5’s new look.” That means signature fender flares, subtle red accents inside the grille, 19-inch black alloy wheels, as well as side moldings, door mirrors and high-gloss black wheel arch details. Inside, the black leather seats are adorned with red stitching, which is also found throughout the cabin in areas such as the door trim, center console and steering wheel.
The new top-of-the-line GT Sport features brown Nappa leather upholstery, natural woodgrain and the high level of technology you’d expect from a premium SUV. Externally, the body is one-color.
While it lacks any form of hybridization—more and more buyers are now focusing on buying an all-electric car—the internal combustion-powered CX-5 continues to impress.
In terms of performance, the CX-5 is perfect for the modern family looking for a “normal size” SUV with all the versatility it brings. In the cabin, quality and materials remain much higher than many competitors. And in terms of value, especially considering the kit you now get as standard, it’s a very attractive proposition.
If there’s one big surprise, it’s the all-round appeal of the 148bhp diesel. Do you dare?
Mazda CX-5 2.2 150PS 2WD sport diesel
Price: £32,210 (£32,790 when tested); Engine: 2.2-liter, four-cylinder, diesel; Power: 148 HP at 4500 rpm; Torque: 280 pounds per foot; Infection transmission: Six-speed mechanics; Max Speed: 127 mph; 0-62 mph: 9.9 seconds; Economy: 50.4 mpg; CO2 emissions: 132 g/km