Mazda CX-5: Fourth report

13 Feb, 2013 10:15am Lesley Harris

Our efficient and fun Mazda CX-5 crossover has proved itself as a practical and versatile family car

Finding the perfect family car is always going to be a challenge, as you inevitably have to compromise somewhere. However, I think Mazda has done its level best to make sure everyone will be happy with the CX-5.

I recently had the pleasure – some would say dubious – of looking after my two-and-a-half-year-old grand-daughter Evie for a fortnight while her parents were away on their honeymoon. And I must say that the Mazda was the perfect vehicle for the job.

Fitting her Concord Absorber XT child seat (more info at www.concord.de) into the car didn’t pose any back-breaking issues, thanks to the CX-5’s high stance and standard Isofix seat mounts. The Concord also has a clever built-in footrest, so even an afternoon of Evie’s favourite pastime – muddy puddle jumping – didn’t leave the back of the car’s seats covered in tell-tale little footprints.

We certainly had a busy two weeks, during which the Mazda was subjected to a host of sticky-fingered children clambering in and out without a care for the fabric upholstery. But the durable interior passed that test with flying colours, thankfully remaining unscathed.

Accommodating Evie’s friends and their parents wasn’t a problem, either. Even with two child seats in the rear, there was still plenty of room for an adult to squeeze in between them. And with all of the outings on our agenda, the CX-5’s big boot saw plenty of use. We loaded it up with bikes, scooters and a buggy – and it was even used as an impromptu dressing room when Evie got just a bit too muddy one day and needed to change into a fresh set of clothes.

So the Mazda proved its worth during its childcare adventure, and I’ve had very little else to complain about. However, on a recent trip to Mumbles, South Wales, the car was noticeably noisier on start-up and produced a lot more exhaust fumes than normal – so I wasn’t surprised when the dashboard service light illuminated at 12,000 miles, with the first service due at 12,500 miles.

The CX-5 was duly booked into my local Mazda dealer, TW White and Sons in Bookham, Surrey, where the service manager explained that my car was the first Mazda in the country with the new SkyActiv engine to be serviced. After two hours of checking, plus an oil and filter change, it got the thumbs up. It’s just a shame I was charged £243 for the privilege – for not much more, rival manufacturers can offer up to three years of servicing.

Aside from that, it really has been plain sailing for the CX-5. And apart from the odd niggle, I still really enjoy driving it. When you consider its size, I’m always surprised at how agile and nimble it is, while the ride is only upset over the roughest of surfaces.

We’ve now racked up nearly 14,000 miles, so both the engine and gearbox have loosened up nicely, making for a very easy and comfortable drive. And the Mazda’s precise and effortless gearchange is definitely a bonus in my commute’s stop-start traffic.

So if you’re in the market for a practical, stylish family crossover, the CX-5 certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. It ticks all the right boxes for practicality and driving fun, and with fuel economy of 44.7mpg and the low emissions meaning £30-a-year road tax bills, need I say any more?

Our view

“The all-new Ford Kuga and Toyota RAV4 are due in showrooms soon, but they’ll have to be pretty special to take on the CX-5 – it’s that good.”
Dean Gibson, Deputy road test editor

Your view

“I really want to like this car, but the interior is depressingly dark. I was very impressed on the short test drive I took, however.”
Iain via www.autoexpress.co.uk

Disqus - noscript

I don't find this car any more exciting than Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, VW Tiguan or Ford Kuga. But it comfortably beats its rivals in power and economy. In this age of frugality this gives the Mazda a clear edge over its rivals.

Re: “I really want to like this car, but the interior is depressingly dark..." Iain

I'm not overly fond of dark interiors either. Fortunately, the CX-5 is available in less claustrophobic 'Stone Leather' on the Sport and Sport-Nav variants.

Yes, Mazda sent me some photos of the Stone seats and they are a pleasant warm shade, unlike that represented in the brochure.
The driving experience is very good, ride, handling, gear change and that excellent diesel engine; apart from a deeper note when accelerating, it is much like a petrol engine.
I am waiting to see the Stone leather in a CX5 before deciding.

Key specs

  • On fleet since: May 2012
  • Price new: £23,395
  • Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
  • CO2/Tax: 119g/km/£30
  • Options: Metallic paint (£520)
  • Insurance group/quote: 20/£400
  • Mileage/mpg: 13,967/44.7mpg
  • Costs: Wheels rebalanced (£40), service (£243), mirror repair (£280)
  • Any problems?: Front wing rattle, broken wing mirror, tyre rotation and wheel balancing needed

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