I love my work – and who wouldn’t? Organising cars for tests and features on a daily basis is brilliant, plus I get to drive the latest metal the moment it arrives in the UK. But it’s when we do something out of the ordinary that this job gets really exciting.
For instance, organising the Performance Car of the Year contest is always one of my favorite tasks – and this year was no exception. But a crazy road trip with the Radical SR3 LS and the BAC Mono was the icing on the cake for our Mazda CX-5 and I.
The capable crossover was chosen as chase car and support vehicle for the two-day jaunt, which started on a cold and damp morning at Radical HQ in Peterborough, Cambs. After a whirlwind tour of the factory, it was time to start. For senior road tester Owen Mildenhall, that meant lowering himself into the wild Radical and braving the elements. No such worries for me: I was cocooned in the CX-5’s climate-controlled cabin.
As neither of our track day racers had a boot, it was down to the Mazda to act as workhorse. That meant the CX-5 was loaded up with four overnight bags, two camera cases, a large tripod, buckets and cleaning equipment, crash helmets and lots of weatherproof clothing – the forecast was not good for our trip to Anglesey Circuit in North Wales. Thank goodness for the SUV’s cavernous boot, as it all fitted in without having to fold the rear bench down flat.
Next stop on our journey was Cheshire, where we collected the BAC Mono, and from there we headed into Wales – and the ever- deteriorating weather. As the drivers of our dynamic duo suffered in the rain and cold, I was able to relax in the Mazda’s warm and cosy interior. Better still, the high-riding stance and smooth ride made the car the perfect platform for photographer Nathan Morgan to capture some brilliant pictures of the Radical and Mono on the move.
And because we took the scenic route to North Wales, the Mazda could demonstrate its nimble handling as it tackled the twisty roads with the same gusto as something much smaller and sportier. BAC tester and Formula Three ace Oli Webb claimed he had trouble keeping up in his racy MINI Cooper S.
The CX-5 covered over 750 miles in two days. Everyone who travelled in it remarked how comfortable and refined it was. And it’s driving as well as ever after a rebalancing of the wheels by TW Whites in Bookham, Surrey. Plus, with 41.0mpg fuel economy, the Mazda was impressively efficient given that it was fully loaded and chasing two race cars for the road. But perhaps the strongest praise I can give the CX-5 is that I never felt tempted to abandon it in favour of our exotic racers.
“Perhaps Mazda’s greatest triumph with the CX-5 has been delivering a spacious and refined SUV that boasts lower emissions than most family hatches.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester
“I recently tested an Audi Q3 and BMW X1 alongside the Mazda, and the CX-5 was the clear winner on space, driving dynamics, economy, cost and kit.”
Wilx42, via www.autoexpress.co.uk