Price and specifications
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 129kW at 4500rpm, 420Nm at 2000rpm
Transmission and 4WD system: High range on-demand four-wheel-drive
Braked tow capacity: 1800kg
Spare tyre: Space saver
Fuel tank: 58 litres
Fuel use (claimed): 5.7L/100km
Fuel use on test: 8.0L/100km
Approach/departure angles: 18.6 degrees/24.4 degrees
Ground clearance: 150mm
When it comes to sales darlings they don’t get much bigger than the Mazda CX-5. It’s the best selling SUV in the country, outstripping the likes of the Toyota LandCruiser, Prado and RAV4.
No surprises, then, that there’s a broad model range starting with the CX-5 Maxx (from $27,880 plus on-road and dealer costs; $29,880 for the auto), which comes with a standard reversing camera, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring system, Bluetooth and six airbags (dual front, front-side and side curtain).
Four-wheel-drive models come exclusively with an automatic transmission and add $3000, while a diesel engine (fitted only with the four-wheel-drive system) adds about $3000. However, the most affordable diesel is the better equipped Maxx Sport, making it a $39,470 proposition.
By the time you get to the Grand Touring diesel ($47,030) tested here (there’s also a flagship Akera above it) there’s satellite-navigation, leather seats, alloy wheels, parking sensors front and rear, auto wipers, smart key entry, nine-speaker Bose sound system and dual zone automatic air-conditioning.
Size isn’t everything and the CX-5 is proof of that. The boot isn’t huge but it’s big enough for most. It also has a clever retractable luggage cover that is attached to the bootlid, so it opens automatically when you raise the tailgate.
Rear seats, too, are adequate rather than excessive, and there are no air vents in the rear, which the kids might miss on hot days.
But the seats themselves are comfortable at both ends and the CX-5 has thoughtful storage areas up front.
Major controls are well laid out, although the optimistic speedo (it reads to 260km/h) and lack of a digital speed display can mean an extra glance to work out how fast you’re travelling.
ON THE ROAD
It’s more can than off-roader underneath and that helps its on-road manners. Few mid-sized SUVs come close to the CX-5’s athleticism and cornering confidence, helped partly by the firm-ish suspension. Steering, too, is nicely weighted, adding to that reassurance.
The diesel engine is a great addition, too. With 129kW and a hefty 420Nm it surges effortlessly, although there’s some associated noise that isn’t particularly endearing.
The six-speed auto is a good match and there’s a stop-start system that cleanly turns the engine off temporarily when stationary.
Claimed fuel use is also impressive, at 5.7 litres per 100km, although expect to use closer to 8.0L/100km in everyday driving.
As with many rivals the CX-5 loses points in the rough stuff. The space saver spare tyre is an early black mark, while the low-slung 150mm of ground clearance (no doubt a help in the good on-road dynamics) means obstacles are more likely to shave the underside in more challenging terrain.
The traction control system also struggled on our basic test, which leaves diagonally opposing wheels hanging in the air. Each kept wheelspinning and progress was temporarily halted.
At least there’s a decent 1800kg tow capacity.
Click here to read the review on the full Mazda CX-5 range