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Car group tests

Mazda CX-5 vs rivals

The Mazda CX-5 is late to the crossover party – so is it good enough to beat class-leading rivals from Skoda and Kia?

Mazda CX-5 vs rivals

It’s not easy to be noticed in a crowd, yet the new Mazda CX-5 could be a breath of fresh air in the busy crossover sector.

The first car with the company’s SkyActiv chassis and engine technology, the CX-5 promises class-leading CO2 emissions, unrivalled driving dynamics and a choice of two and four-wheel-drive models.

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We test the entry-level 2WD 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel, which emits just 119g/km of CO2, costs £25,195 in range-topping Sport trim and is expected to be the biggest seller in the Mazda range.

Facing the CX-5 are two cars every bit as desirable. The Skoda Yeti is our crossover class champ. In Elegance GreenLine trim, it’s as efficient as the Mazda, but offers lots more standard kit for its lower £20,475 price. It’s smaller, though, and its 1.6 TDI has less power.

Rivalling the CX-5 for style and space is Kia’s Sportage. It’s packed with equipment, and while its 1.7-litre diesel isn’t as clean, it’s still a frugal and eager performer. It also comes with a generous seven-year warranty.

So will the CX-5 float gracefully to the top of the class, or will it sink without a trace?

Verdict

Mazda has come to the compact crossover party late, but in the CX-5 it has created a class leader. This car is great to look at, roomy and fantastic to drive, while the SkyActiv engines deliver unrivalled emissions and economy.

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The Kia Sportage has the looks to match the Mazda, but not the handling. You can also only get a 2.0-litre diesel if you go for four-wheel drive; our two-wheel-drive 1.7-litre test model doesn’t have the refinement or performance to match the 2.2-litre Mazda. Plus, it’s nowhere near as efficient – although the car appeals with its standard equipment list and great warranty.

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It’s the Skoda Yeti GreenLine that runs the Mazda closest. Not only is it just as clean, with strong handling, the cabin is also functional and well built. On the other hand, it demands compromises in terms of performance and space. For those reasons, it finishes second to the superb Mazda.

Winner
Mazda CX-5
★★★★★

Lined up against crossovers like the Skoda Yeti, the CX-5 can seem expensive. However, it’s bigger, and leads the way with its low fuel and tax bills, while well equipped SE-L trim is far more affordable. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is super-refined and is cleaner than the smaller diesel in the Kia. Mazda has improved its cabin quality, too.

2nd
Skoda Yeti
★★★★

The Skoda Yeti is still a fine choice. In GreenLine trim, it matches the Mazda’s emissions and it’s almost as economical. The 1.6-litre engine is short on power and its performance is leisurely, but the Yeti handles better than the Kia, and its functional cabin is great. But we think other Yeti models make more sense.

3rd
Kia Sportage
★★★★

Our Sportage 3 Sat Nav has lots of kit fitted as standard and is £2,000 less than the Mazda to buy. But if you sacrifice some goodies, the CX-5 SE-L is £200 cheaper than the Sportage 3. Either way, the Kia is dirtier, far less powerful and doesn’t handle or ride as well as the Mazda. Company car tax bills are higher, too.

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