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In-depth reviews

Mazda CX-5 review - Interior, design and technology

Styling is smarter, if not too different to the old car, while the interior is driver-focused and feels upmarket

If you liked the previous-generation Mazda CX-5, the chances are you won’t be put off by the redesign. At a glance it looks remarkably similar, but start to look at it in detail and you’ll see it’s distinctly sharper and sportier.

The jutting front end is more muscular than the rounded face of the old car, and the surfacing is very smart. Styling is ultimately subjective, but in our view it’s one of the most attractive designs in the class, giving the SEAT Ateca a run for its money in the desirability stakes. 

Inside the design changes are even less radical – the layout and switchgear will be instantly recognisable to owners of the previous CX-5. However, detail changes to the controls ensure it’s even easier to operate things on the move, and there’s a real sense that Mazda wants to driver to be focused on the job of actually driving the car. 

The biggest improvement inside is the rise in perceived quality – the CX-5 uses a largely first-rate blend of materials and fit-and-finish is excellent. The old car was already pretty good in this regard, but now the Mazda is on a par with VW for interior polish. Kit levels are fairly strong as well, with SE-L Nav models featuring LED headlights, sat-nav, DAB and dual-zone climate control, while Sport Nav cars include an electric tailgate, electric leather seats, a heated wheel and a head-up display.

Stereo, sat-nav and infotainment 

Infotainment used to be a weak link with Mazdas, but in recent years the brand has upped its game. However, compared to the larger infotainment screens found in some rivals, the seven-inch unit in the Mazda trails. The graphics aren’t as sharp as the higher-resolution displays found in VW products, for example, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t supported, either – although the firm has announced this functionality is coming soon and that owners will be able to have it retro-fitted.

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There’s still some good smartphone integration as standard, with apps for Internet radio, Facebook and Twitter. Also included are DAB, Bluetooth and three years’ map updates for the standard sat-nav.

The system is relatively easy to operate using the rotary controller on the transmission tunnel, although the menu layout isn’t especially logical and too many inputs are required to perform some tasks. Compared with the screens mounted in the dashboards of some rivals, the slim display on top of the CX-5’s facia in your eyeline makes it easy to read.

The CX-5 also has a head-up display (dubbed Active Driving Display) that shows speed, sat-nav data and traffic sign recognition. A clearer 4.6-inch TFT display features in the dials, too. 

Entry-level cars come with a four-speaker sound system that provides perfectly adequate quality. However, Sport Nav models comes with a Bose ten-speaker surround sound system with a subwoofer and separate tweeters, which should keep audiophiles happy with its punchy and crisp sound.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 SE-L Nav+ 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £26,135

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.2d Sport Nav+ 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,435

Fastest

  • Name
    2.2d [184] Sport Nav+ 5dr AWD
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £33,125
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