► Testing the new Mazda CX-5 in the UK
► Should you pick a diesel or petrol CX-5?
► 148bhp 2.2d is the most economical of all
After a crossover but want to stand out at the school gates? It’s an increasingly tough task, but if you don’t fancy going completely off-piste and buying a Lada Niva, the Mazda CX-5 could be for you. The previous-generation one looked sharp and drove well enough to sate wannabe racers strong-armed into family car-dom by parenthood.
The new model, however, has upped the visual ante with its shark-aping grille and squinty headlamps. According to Mazda, the interior has seen some serious upgrades, too, being stuffed to the gills with new sound deadening – enough, in fact, to make the new car 50kg heavier than its predecessor.
Click here to read our initial first drive of the new Mazda CX-5 from the international launch
Ignore the media diesel bashing; you want a diesel CX-5. The petrol engine may pack a few more ponies with 163bhp against 148bhp for the lesser diesel, but you’d never guess. While the diesel fires you forward with little more than 1000rpm on the dial – and bends the needle with a totally undiesel-like liveliness – encounter any form of hill in the petrol and you’ll be changing down again and again.
Come across a steep climb on an A-road and you may find yourself shifting all the way down from sixth to third with the 2.0-litre petrol. Several times scaling a Cairngorm on our drive from Scotland to the Midlands, even second was needed. Thankfully, such left-hand exercise isn’t required in either diesel, making them the go-to options for the CX-5.
Choose all-wheel drive 173bhp Mazda CX-5 diesel for best performance
If you have the cash, the 173bhp diesel offers a hefty helping of added muscle – despite the mere 0.4-second difference in 0-62mph time. The 148bhp model takes 9.4 seconds for the benchmark sprint compared with 9.0 seconds for the 173bhp, but these figures bely the added eagerness of the more powerful CX-5.
Neither engine makes much noise, and thanks to its broad spread of power even the less powerful version feels more than up to the task of shifting the CX-5. It’s similarly satisfying to drive whether you’re bumbling along a dual carriageway or heading through town.
Mazda CX-5 drives well – for a crossover
Head for twistier roads and there remains a divide between the diesel CX-5s. The 148hp model in Sport Nav trim with standard 19-inch alloys offers reasonably weighted steering and a gearbox with a pleasingly short-throw gearshift. The suspension is comfortable but has a firm edge not present in smaller-wheeled SE Nav versions.
Up the speed and the 148bhp CX-5 rolls into corners somewhat. It’s no old-school Citroen, but the suspension doesn’t keep the car’s body movement in check as well as some in this class.
Thankfully, the range-topping 173bhp model feels sharper. The ride is a little firmer and the steering meatier, enough to inspire greater confidence.
Mazda CX-5 finance: high monthly costs, but lots of equity
Look at the cash price and the CX-5 undercuts a number of rivals, though monthly costs are higher than some rivals on PCP finance, at £428 per month on a three-year, 10,000-mile-per-year contract (with a £4,229 deposit). An equivalent Ford Kuga could cost you £80 less per month, the 3008 is £30 less per month and a seven-seat, automatic Skoda Kodiaq is £20 less per month (with equivalent contract terms).
Mazda does stress that it’s very conservative with its finance calculations, however, meaning that there should be a substantial amount of equity in the car should you hand it back and go into another finance scheme – keeping future monthly payments under control.
You do get tonnes of sophisticated kit for the money, too. Standard equipment on Sport Nav models includes:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Leather upholstery
- Electric, heated front seats
- Bose 10-speaker sound system
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Electric tailgate
- Keyless entry
The Mazda CX-5 is not the most obvious crossover – nor is it the cheapest, or the most economical. It’s a good all-rounder, however, with sharp styling, a comfortable cabin, tonnes of standard kit and some fantastic diesel engines. Take those into account and it could be one very savvy SUV buy.