Mazda CX-5 review
Our choice of Crossover, the Mazda CX-5, is stylish, well-equipped and good to drive
We believe the Mazda CX-5 is currently the best crossover on sale today, thanks to its sharp handling, top-notch quality, low running costs and family friendly practicality. In addition to seeing off crossover rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008, the CX-5 can compete with compact SUVs such as the Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda CR-V.
Mazda offers the CX-5 in three trim levels - SE-L, SE-L Lux and Sport, with the latter two being particularly well equipped. However, on entry-level SE-L models, Mazda hasn't exactly scrimped on equipment, and all CX-5s are attractively priced and packed with standard kit.
All models come with a specification including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth. The range topping Sport models get other luxuries such as leather seat-trim, keyless entry and a reversing camera.
The CX-5 is powered by one of Mazda's 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre Skyactiv engines that deliver low emissions and the kind of frugal fuel economy that's normally associated with a smaller family hatchback such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. The CX-5 is also available in either two or four-wheel drive.
Our choice: Mazda CX-5 2.2D (150) SE-L 2WD
Mazda has given the CX-5 a sleek, sporty look . Tough body cladding and a raised ride height leave no doubt about the car's SUV status, but its compact proportions are spot on. As a result, the CX-5 doesn't look as old fashioned as the comparable Subaru Forester.
Mazda has carried the CX-5's smart exterior over to the inside, and you'll find everything is solidly built and smartly designed. The materials that Mazda has used can easily match anything from Honda, and the high-set driving position is excellent.
The front end of the CX-5 looks classy, and the sharp creases in the bonnet fit well with the shape of the grille. Mazda fits alloy wheels to every CX-5 as standard, but the range-topping Sport gets 19-inch rims and powerful bi-xenon headlamps as part of the deal.
The Mazda CX-5 offers a driving experience far superior to any of its crossover and compact SUV rivals. The high driving position in the CX-5 provides excellent all round ability, and a wide range of adjustments can be made to the driver's seat to ensure a perfect driving position.
Major controls in the CX-5's cabin are well weighted and operate with a precision that's not usually found in an SUV or crossover. Sharp steering, decent grip and strong body control mean the CX-5 is well accomplished through a series of corners, and its supple ride and low noise levels take the sting out of long motorway journeys.
Fortunately, Mazda has not sacrificed the CX-5's dynamic poise at the expense of ride comfort. It easily soaks up bumps, and wind and road noise are kept to a minimum.
Although four-wheel drive versions of the CX-5 can't match the Land Rover Freelander for outright go anywhere ability, they provide confidence boosting traction in tricky conditions, handle sharply and are surprisingly capable off-road.
Furthermore, the 2.2-litre Skyactive diesel engine is an eager performer, and the two-stage turbo ensures power is delivered smoothly. Refinement at idle and on the move is class leading, and even the lower output 2.0-litre petrol has more than enough performance.
The CX-5 fitted with the automatic gearbox has higher emissions than its manual counterpart, but it's a smooth transmission and is cleaner than the automatic boxes found in its rivals.
Mazda has built a strong reputation for producing durable cars, so the CX-5 should provide trouble-free service. Better still, the brand finished an excellent fourth in the manufacturers chart of our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, with top marks for reliability.
Adding to the appeal, Euro NCAP awarded the CX-5 a five-star crash test rating, and all versions get six airbags and stability control. The car also benefits from City Safe low-speed collision kit, which monitors the road ahead and automatically applies the brakes if it senses an imminent collision with the vehicle in front. The optional safety pack adds lane depature and blind spot warning.
The Mazda CX-5 is a slightly more practical proposition than the Ford Kuga, thanks to its 503-litre boot.
Better still, the seats in the CX-5 can be folded flat in one movement, freeing up a healthy 1,620-litres of luggage space. Another near feature in terms of practicality, is the Mazda 'Karakuri' parcel shelf that lifts out of the way when the tailgate is opened, making it easier to load items into the boot.
Despite its compact looks, the CX-5 is roomy inside, and there's plenty of head and legroom in the back, plus Mazda has packed the cabin with useful storage, including deep door bins, a number of cup-holders and a large glovebox.
Mazda's Skyactiv engines mean the sprightly performance of the CX-5 doesn't come at the expense of economy or emissions.
The 173bhp, 2.2-litre diesel four-wheel drive CX-5 emits only 136g/km of CO2, and has a combined cycle of 54.3mpg, while the entry-level front-wheel drive 2.2-litre CX-5 reduces emissions of just 119g/km of CO2 and a slightly increased combined economy of 61.4 mpg.
The 2.0-litre petrol variant's combined economy is 47.1mpg and has emissions of 139g/km of CO2.
Adding to its appeal, the CX-5 has strong residual figures, with most models holding onto around 50 per cent of their value after three years. However, Mazda does not offer the same long warranty as rivals Kia and Hyundai. Plus, there are no pre-paid servicing packages.