Back in 2012 Mazda proved to the world that mainstream midsize SUVs didn’t have to be boxy-looking, dull-to-drive family wagons. Back then, the arrival of the first-generation CX-5 wowed us with its impressive dynamics and stylish design – and buyers responded with great enthusiasm too.
And now we have the second-generation CX-5 in showrooms. It neatly picks up where the first-generation model left off, offering the same capable mechanical package wrapped in a more up-to-date interior and exterior.
There’s more to it than just that, however. Let’s take a closer look.
WHAT STANDS OUT
Design is the CX-5’s standout feature, with a bold front end that proudly frames the Mazda emblem within a huge grille opening. Narrow headlamps are linked by a chrome bar that stretches beneath that distinctive grille, and there’s no risk of getting lost in the crowd with the second-gen CX-5
Around the back, a pair of slim tail lamp housings are inset to the tailgate to add some visual width, and the rest of the CX-5’s sheetmetal is taut and toned. The net effect is a car that looks very much like a downsized CX-9, and that’s definitely a good thing considering how handsome and sophisticated that car looks.
And those similarities carry over to the interior design. There’s a very upmarket aura in here, and lots of soft-touch materials and quality switchgear. If you’re looking for a dash of luxury in a mainstream SUV, here it is.
All CX-5s enjoy Mazda’s simple and intuitive MZD-Connect infotainment system, however the base model Maxx grade misses out on integrated sat-nav.
It also doesn’t receive air vents for the rear seat passengers, which is a bit of an oversight for a car pitched at families and sold in a country as hot as Australia.
But even though this new model is just a single centimetre longer than the outgoing model, there’s now loads more space on the inside – especially for those in the back. The outgoing CX-5 has hampered by a cramped second row with poor legroom, but this second-generation car has plenty of space for both your knees and toes.
And there are other neat touches too. In this range-topping Akera grade we have here, there are even a pair of USB outlets hidden away in the centre armrest – perfect for when the kids are running out of voltage in their tablets.
Designed with practicality as well as comfort in mind, the CX-5’s rear seat now boasts a 40/20/40 split rather than the more common 40/60 configuration, which allows the centre seat to be folded independently to carry both long items and two rear passengers at the same time.
The boot measures in at 442 litres with the rear seats up, with limited under-floor storage. It’s a useful size – and the release handles make it easy to drop the rear seats – but the absence of shopping bag hooks isn’t great for a family SUV.
The best buying in the CX-5 range is right in the middle of the range, with the new Touring variant occupying the sweet spot as far as the balance between price, performance and equipment is concerned.
Its ride is also nicely compliant on its 17-inch alloy wheels, which wear chubbier, softer rubber than the 19-inch wheels of the GT and Akera. All-wheel drive is standard, the 2.5-litre petrol engine is a strong performer, there’s a diesel option for those who want long-distance frugality and cabin refinement is exceptional.
Going up to the GT grade nets you a powered tailgate, premium audio and a sunroof while the top-shelf Akera brings radar-assisted cruise control, side camera view and lane-keep assist, but for many the extra expense may not be worth it.
The second-generation CX-5 is not wanting for appeal. Everywhere you look there’s something to love.
A more spacious interior makes it more liveable, high-end design features make it nicer to look at, there’s more equipment on the inside to enjoy and it’s just as nice to drive as before. Well done, Mazda.