As a priority, Mazda needs to re-arrange its trophy cabinet as an avalanche of awards are coming the way of the all-new Mazda CX-5. We’ve now driven the delayed-arrival 2.2-litre diesel model and however you cut it, we reckon the Mazda CX-5 stakes a realistic claim to being the best vehicle of its type.
Mazda CX-5 is beautifully styled inside and out, delivers the full raft of ground-breaking SKYACTIV technology, petrol and diesel powerplants, plus family friendly interior space and cargo capacity. The knock-out punch is pricing – from $27,800.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel Overview
Yep, as a complete range, Mazda’s CX-5 gets the Car Showroom vote as the best vehicle of its type. And that’s where the complications begin.
Thing is, the medium SUV segment includes SUVs and those vehicles sometimes called ‘Crossovers’. Clearly the Mazda CX-5 falls into the latter category.
This time we got to drive the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Mazda doesn’t offer this engine in the base model – you can only have it in all-wheel-drive and six-speed automatic in mid-grade Maxx Sport ($39,040) or range-topping Grand Touring ($46,200).
Mazda CX-5 Engine
As we know, Mazda – like all the world’s car-makers – is developing alternative-fuel and electric vehicles, but has also cleverly focused on making internal combustion engines as efficient as possible – hence the SKYACTIV-D common-rail turbo-diesel with the world’s lowest compression ratio (14:1) and two-stage turbocharging.
Currently Euro 4 compliant, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel in the Mazda CX-5 delivers 129kW at 4500rpm and peak torque of 420Nm at 2000rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.7l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions of just 149g/km stamp the Mazda CX-5 as one of the cleanest and most fuel efficient medium SUVs.
Torque delivery via the six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive is particularly impressive – zero to 100km/h in 9.4 seconds and exceptionally strong response in the mid-range.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel The Interior
Car Showroom tested the Mazda CX-5 diesel in Maxx Sport grade. Stepping up to the Grand Touring model brings heated leather seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver, a glass sunroof and the nine-speaker Bose audio system.
But the Maxx Sport model we tested brings lots of kit for its $39,040 sticker – including six-speaker sound, satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear-lever and handbrake, rain-sensing wipers and a 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat.
The traditionally sporty Mazda three-spoke steering wheel (a new design) adjusts for rake and reach for a top-shelf driving position and unencumbered view of the nicely laid-out three-gauge instrument cluster housed in a modern, curved binnacle.
We liked the stylish cloth trim in the Maxx Sport grade (we previously drove the leather-trimmed Grand Sport variant) and lots of nice details give the Mazda CX5 interior undeniable class.
And the spacious rear seat accommodation is a major reason why family buyers will prefer the Mazda CX-5 over many segment rivals. Same for the 403/1560-litre cargo capacity with a tonneau cover integrated into the tailgate and handy remote levers to quickly fold the rear seat.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel Exterior & Styling
Mazda turns a new page with the all-new CX-5 extending its ‘KODO – Soul Of Motion’ design themes. Expect the front grille (upright for aerodynamic efficiency) to be rolled-out in future Mazda products.
Powerful and athletic, the Mazda CX-5 delivers a sophisticated design which disguises the size of this mid-size SUV (footprint almost identical to the Mazda CX-7). At 4540mm in overall length, 1840mm wide, 2700mm wheelbase and 1710mm in height, the Mazda CX-5 is indeed one of the larger medium SUVs – hence the abundant interior space.
We liked the prominent flared front fenders, bold side lines and powerful arches over the rear wheels. Equally, the door-mounted mirrors (aerodynamically efficient again) and muscular C-pillars are contemporary elements.
Maxx Sport grade as tested runs 17-inch alloy wheels.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel On The Road
Mazda dispatched us on the familiar roads from Melbourne Airport to Daylesford providing a mixture of freeway, rural and secondary roads with some variable dirt tracks thrown-in.
We’d previously tested a left-hand-drive, German-sourced Mazda6 sedan prototype fitted with the SKYACTIV 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, so we were expecting a lively performance from the Mazda CX-5 diesel – and that’s exactly what we got. At all engine speeds this ground-breaking turbo-diesel provided strong acceleration and instantaneous throttle response.
That stems from the SKYACTIV combo of engine and transmission technology plus light weight (as tested 1637kgs). And that lively performance did not come with harshness or unseemly noise – in fact, even when pressing-on hard the Mazda CX-5 diesel was impressively quiet.
Mazda says the CX-5 is set-up as a sporty drive (engine and transmission mapping, suspension calibration etc). That means a ‘firmish’ European-style ride, precise steering and nimble handling – just the ticket for driving enjoyment.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel Challenges
Self-shifting the Mazda CX-5’s six-speed automatic transmission using the gear lever brings quick response from the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel but, as the CX-5 diesel is only available with the six-speed automatic transmission and Mazda frankly told us the intention was a sporty drive, we just wonder if steering wheel paddle shifters were given consideration.
Mazda CX-5 Diesel Verdict
Across both petrol and diesel models, the Mazda CX-5 is now the medium SUV ‘Crossover’ by which others will be graded – it’s that good. We felt the excellent chassis could handle more grunt than the 2.0-litre petrol powerplant provides and we were right – the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a well-balanced and tasty proposition.
Moreover it’s the all-round combination of style, space and performance which scores top points for Mazda’s CX-5. We’ll take the diesel thanks.
Mazda CX-5 The Competition
Looking purely at diesel-powered rivals excludes this segment’s long-time best-seller the Toyota RAV4 (but for many shopping the Mazda CX5, the RAV may be a little too SUV) and also the excellent, all-new Ford Kuga.
Subaru Forester finished just ahead in the sales race in 2011 and diesel versions start at $35,990. Forester’s four-speed automatic transmission lags the Mazda CX-5’s six-speeder and we prefer the more contemporary look of the CX-5’s interior.
Diesel versions of Nissan’s competent X-TRAIL start at $35,990 but with 320Nm, the X-TRAIL is out-gunned by the Mazda CX-5’s 420Nm.
Kia Sportage diesel and the hot-selling Volkswagen Tiguan are also ‘must-includes’ on your shopping list but the Mazda CX-5 eclipses both for interior space and cargo capacity.
Mazda CX-5 Likes
Powerful and refined diesel; dynamic looks; lots of space inside
Mazda CX-5 Dislikes
View from behind is a bit plain compared to the rest of the stylish Mazda CX-5.