MAZDA’s first generation CX-5 was a sales juggernaut, and has consistently held the title of Australia’s most popular medium SUV thanks to an appealing combo of sporty handling, sharp design and strong equipment levels.
However, it wasn’t perfect, with a lack of refinement and intrusive road and wind noise being bugbears for the car. Mazda has heard the criticism, however, and answered it deftly with its second-gen iteration of the CX-5.
Updated styling, improved sound suppression, and an even lengthier list of standard features make the second-gen CX-5 an impressive offering in the most popular SUV segment in Australia
Tell me about this car
The new Mazda CX-5 is longer and lower (just), than the first generation model it replaces, with the Japanese manufacturer focusing primarily on improving cabin refinement and value for money. The Touring is the mid-level spec, with either a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol or 2.2-litre turbo diesel that sends power to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic. The petrol variant tested here costs $38,990 (MLP). Touring is a new spec for the CX-5, designed to fill the gap between the Maxx Sport and GT grades.
- The most striking thing about driving the new CX-5 is the work put in by Mazda in improving Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) suppression. It is impressively quiet at highway speeds, with tyre roar and wind noise only becoming intrusive on coarse-chip roads.
- Despite its high-riding SUV stature, the CX-5 remains a dynamically impressive vehicle. It corners stable with some small body roll, with steering on the lighter side that does well to communicate what is happening at the wheels. The suspension is also well tuned, soaking up most bumps at both high and low speeds. It impressed on corrugated dirt roads.
- The interior feels more luxurious than the sub-$40k price point suggests. This is thanks largely to the generous application of comfortable black “MazTex” faux leather and suede upholstery on the seats and key touch points like the armrests, making the Touring grade a pleasant place to spend time.
- Speaking of cabins, the inside of the CX-5 is spacious with front passengers separated by a wide and deep centre console. The redesigned unit is now higher as well, for improved ergonomics. Rear passengers are given plenty of legroom, and redesigned rear pews now have a 10mm lower hip point for more headroom and a more comfortable posture. Yet, four adults could complete long drives vey comfortably in the CX-5.
- Rear luggage space is ample, with 442 litres (up from 402 in the old model) with the rear seats upright, which can be increased thanks to 40/20/40 folding seats. However, this is less than what is likely to be the CX-5’s staunchest rival, the VW Tiguan. During the test period the CX-5 was able to transport three adults, their luggage (including oversized sporting equipment), plus food and drink for a long weekend getaway with ease.
- Mazda has kitted out the CX-5 with plenty of standard equipment. The Touring receives a heads-up-display, reversing camera, sat-nav, rear cross traffic alert (which works well to warn drivers of oncoming cars while reversing), keyless entry, traffic sign recognition, AEB, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, and rear air vents as standard. This is impressive for the price and segment, and a definite step above the base model Maxx.
- While looks are subjective, Mazda should be commended for the styling of the new CX-5. The car looks smart, and is likely to age well, appearing more up-market than it is priced. The cars exterior is evolutionary instead of revolutionary, with mature and elegant styling.
- Prices have risen slightly for all spec grades bar top of the line Akera. However, Mazda has justified the increases with more equipment as standard. The Touring’s $38,990 (MLP) is still competitive for the segment.
- To really nitpick, the steering in the CX-5 may not be as sharp as some buyers would want – there are sportier SUV offerings available – like the Volkswagen Tiguan. Mazda’s focus on luxury and refinement has slight dulled the CX-5’s sporty edge.
Any rivals I should consider?