Month 4 running a Mazda CX-5: our CX-5's build quality impresses
Ask my wife’s 86-year-old grandfather, who suffers from failing eyesight, about what he misses most and he says it’s driving. Growing up in Cyprus he would rattle around in tractors and Austin Sevens when he was still in short trousers.
After moving his family to England in the 1960s, he owned a succession of Jags and Rovers, in which he would trawl up and down the A1 from London to Yorkshire and back visiting the linen manufacturers who supplied his tailoring merchant’s business. Today, his vision may not be what it used to be, but experience has taught him about cars; he still feels them, listens to them, smells them.
He got into the CX-5 and reached out for dashboard, his long, crooked fingers stroking the pliant plastic. I watched as he bounced gently up and down in the seat, gave the door handle a firm tug and the gearstick a waggle. He turned the volume down on a football phone-in so he could hear the engine (or not as the case may be). Five minutes down the road – not having winced once, as he does when feeling every millimetre of my sportier rides – he asked what car it was. ‘It’s VERY good,’ he replied sagely. ‘Very nice indeed.’
He compares every other car to my father-in-law’s Merc ML350 – almost universally unfavourably – but didn’t with the CX-5. He’s right. The CX-5 is a very good car – especially its engine, the top spec 173bhp 2.2 diesel which, even in sixth, has brutal reserves of torque. In hindsight, I’d have opted for the lesser 148bhp variant, if only to get those fuel bills down.
Still, there are signs that build quality has some way to go to approach Germanic levels. The piece of plastic acting as the internal boot handle – it looks like half a Müller Corner yogurt pot – has come away in my hand, while a cover concealing the bolts securing the rear seats has gone for a wander. As grandfather likes to turn my radio down at every opportunity, I’ll keep you posted if the volume knob falls off…
By Stephen Worthy
Month 3 running a Mazda CX-5: time to test Mazda's dealership response
CLUNK! The damage a stone did to my CX-5 suggested that I had passed through a meteorite shower near Biggleswade, its epicentre two inches from the passenger-side A-pillar. A crack appeared and got larger, spreading across half of the screen by day’s end.
Donalds, Peterborough’s Mazda dealership, warned of delays on replacement CX-5 windscreens, saying the stock computer indicated that there may be one in France, potentially a couple in Germany. The mood music coming down the line from Donalds wasn’t just Eine Kleine Nachtmusik but also the worrying possibility that this could be protracted. We were predicted two months delay but miraculously a replacement appeared in under a week. Maybe CAR’s name expedited early resolution, but on calling Milcars Mazda in Watford they said a similar malady had been dealt with in a fortnight. Good news, as who wants a car that’s so new it could be in dry dock just for a bit of glass?
By Stephen Worthy
Month 2 running a Mazda CX-5: could the CX-5 be a cut-price Evoque-challenger?
I'd just bought dinner at Sainsbury’s – vegetable moussaka for the wife, nice bit of sea bream for me – when out of the corner of my eye I saw someone striding purposefully across the car park towards me. Was it the fella I’d gesticulated at for sitting in the middle lane on the A1 earlier? Was I about to be spread-eagled over the bonnet of my new CX-5? ‘What do you think of it?’ he puffed, pointing at the Mazda. ‘I’ve got one on order.’
Introducing himself as Harrison, he said that he was looking to buy a car to last into retirement – ‘Got a couple of years to go!’ – and it had come down to the Evoque or the CX-5. He and the wife liked the Range Rover but standard kit was better on the CX-5, and the Rangie waiting list was six months. Servicing costs sealed the deal. Despite being originally from the north west – like the Halewood-built Evoque – Harrison turned Japanese.
You couldn’t be confident that too many prospective Evoque buyers will opt for a CX-5 instead, but it’s an indication that the decent trim standards and solid on-road performance of this understated compact SUV will lead to trickledown from more premium brands. Who needs Posh Spice?
By Stephen Worthy
Month 1 running a Mazda CX-5: we introduce the CX-5 long-termer
Like most men over the age of 40, the only Mazda I’ve ever been interested in has a fabric, convertible roof and a gearbox that has moved people to eulogy. So when told I was being given an MX-5 for my next CAR long-termer, I had to find somewhere to lie down. Then Ben Pulman told me to go and clean my ears out – I’d got the wrong consonant.
The new CX-5 SUV is every bit Mazda’s future – it hopes – as the MX has been core to its past and present. With its partnership with Ford now little more than an exchange of information – rather like mates down the boozer, if a little more coherent – this means the CX-5 is the first to embrace Mazda’s new SkyActiv technology. We’re talking all-new engines, gearboxes, chassis and suspension, and all developed by Mazda itself. That’s quite a leap, but first impressions are good.
To add to the marketing speak – that ol’ iconoclast Bill Hicks would go to town on manufacturers like Mazda – there’s also a debut for ‘KODO’. Subtitled Soul Of Motion, what sounds like a dodgy rave record is instead Mazda’s new design theme. It obviously stands for an inoffensive hybrid of European and Far East styling – also see Kuga, Qashqai, Sportage – and your initial impression is that it’s subtle bordering on the non-descript, although it may be down to the understated paintwork.
Inside, it’s dark and functional, but has a premium feel – although the dated bright orange temperature/air-con display takes it down a notch. Opting for the range-topping Sport Nav model means a 175bhp 2.2-litre diesel-powered version with full leather seats, steering wheel and trim. It kicks off at £27,595 (and Mazda is throwing in an excellent integrated Tom Tom-based sat-nav during the launch period) to which we’ve added Metropolitan Grey Mica metallic paint (£525). It’s greyer than a British summer but, like the summer, we’ll get used to it.
To that we’ve been encouraged to add the safety pack – perhaps a case of Mazda trying to protect its investment – which for £700 gives you a lane-departure warning system for those prone to nodding off, high-beam control system and rear vehicle monitoring system. It seems the people at Mazda are, in the words of camp ’80s popsters Five Star, system addicts.
Oh, and we’ve plumped for manual, too. The auto ’box commands a £1200 premium, which seems excessive and unnecessary in the light of Mazda making a real effort to replicate the MX-5’s stubby, short-throw gearbox in its bigger sibling. There’s a choice of two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and we’ve gone for the latter.
Standard equipment on Sport and Sport Nav models (guess what piece of extra kit the ‘Sport Nav’ gets) includes 19-inch alloys (will they prove to be too big?), nine-speaker Premium Bose audio system (a boon for music nuts like me) and advanced keyless entry. I’m still having to use the old-fashioned blipper to open the car at present, suggesting I need to consult the Bible-sized owner’s manual.
So that’s £28,815 in total – in the same ballpark as my outgoing Seat Alhambra. But while the Alhambra could double as a Royal Mail van, it forced you into plodding along like one too. Part of Mazda’s SkyAktiv philosophy is to use lighter materials in order to drive things such as economy to levels hitherto achieved only by hybrids, but without nobbling performance. Six or seven years ago, 136g/km for a 2.2-litre diesel that hits 62mph in 8.8 seconds would have been unthinkable.
My only cause for scepticism is Mazda’s wretchedly optimistic fuel consumption figure. How on earth am I going to get anywhere near 54.3mpg? I’m pretty sure I’m nowhere near it at the minute. Old Leadfoot, it seems, is back.
By Stephen Worthy