2012 Mazda CX-5 Review and First Drive

by under Review on 27 Feb 2012 03:50:57 PM27 Feb 2012
2012 MAZDA CX-5
Price Range
$29,770 - $51,330
Fuel Consumption
5.7L - 8.2L/100km


Mazda has done it again. Just as the Mazda2 (compact cars) and Mazda3 (small cars) can stake legitimate claims to being the best vehicles in their segments, so too can the all-new Mazda CX-5.

For Mazda’s all-new medium SUV, the CX-5 enters the  hottest segment right now in the industry. Mazda CX-5 replaces the impressive (but petrol-thirsty) CX-7 – saying the CX-5 has big shoes to fill is an understatement.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Pricing is super-sharp (starting at $27,800) and the all-new Mazda CX-5 is available with either a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine or a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel. Mazda CX-5 comes in three model grades reflecting the normal Mazda nomenclature – ‘Maxx’, ‘Maxx Sport’ and ‘Grand Touring’.

We expected an impressive showing from the Mazda CX-5 as the all-new medium SUV is the first Mazda to bring together the whole enchilada of Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology (engine, transmission, suspension and body). After a day behind the wheel, we can see why the CX-5 has been worth the wait and why Mazda Australia is counting on it for a bullish first year as the Japanese giant – Australia’s best-selling full-line importer – plans to achieve 2012 sales of 91,500 vehicles (up from 88,33 last year).

Mazda CX-5 Overview

The full range is:
Maxx 2.0-litre petrol FWD (6-speed manual) $27,800
Maxx 2.0-litre petrol FWD (6-speed automatic) $29,800
Maxx 2.0-litre petrol AWD (six-speed automatic) $32,300
Maxx Sport 2.0-litre petrol FWD (six-speed automatic) $33,540
Maxx Sport 2.0-litre petrol AWD (6-speed automatic) $36,040
Maxx Sport 2.2-litre diesel AWD (6-speed automatic) $39,040
Grand Touring 2.0-litre petrol AWD (6-speed automatic) $43,200
Grand Touring 2.2-litre diesel AWD (6-speed automatic) $46,200
• All are painted in Mica/Metallic paints – Mazda does not charge extra for this
• Tech Pack Option (Grand Touring only) $1,990

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Over the entry-level Maxx, Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport adds items like alloy wheels, satellite navigation, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-lever and 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat.

Grand Touring ramps-up the luxo with 19-inch alloys, Bi-Xenon headlights leather seats, Bose audio and a glass sunroof.

Mazda CX-5 Engine

Here’s where the much-acclaimed Mazda SKYACTIV Technology first appears.

Mazda quite rightly points out that while the sherry-sippers and navel-gazers quack-on about renewable energy, back in the real world, the best favour we can do for the planet right here, right now is to maximize the efficiency of internal combustion engines. SKYACTIV is a holistic approach to that which radically alters conventional thinking about fuel-efficient engines (high compression for petrol and low compression for diesel) and combines new gearbox technology and light-weight chassis design. 

2012 MAZDA CX-5

So the Mazda CX-5’s 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel has the world’s lowest compression ratio (14:1), yet delivers 129kW of power at 4500rpm and peak torque of 420Nm from 2000rpm. Euro 4 compliant, the Mazda CX-5 diesel rates 5.7l/100kms for fuel consumption and 149g/km for exhaust C02 emissions.

The 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine has a high 13:1 compression ratio and 4-2-1 exhaust system and provides 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4000 in FWD (113kW/198Nm in AWD). Also Euro 4 compliant, Mazda CX-5’s petrol powerplant returns fuel consumption as low as 6.4l/100kms (FWD) and exhaust C02 emissions down to 160g/km (FWD).

Mazda CX-5 The Interior

Photos can be deceiving and the Mazda CX-5 is one of the larger medium SUVs. This is apparent inside where the 270mm wheelbase and 1840mm width provide surprising space.

Also apparent is the style and quality which we expect from Mazda interiors. You sit high in the Mazda CX-5 (a trait demanded by most SUV buyers) and the conventional three-gauge instruments are housed in a nice, curved binnacle.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Mazda CX-5 scores a new-design three-spoke steering wheel (adjustable for rake/reach and leather-wrapped in Maxx Sport and Grand Touring models) and to the left is the audio system and European-style layout for the climate control. Grand Touring gets a nine-speaker, 231-watt Bose sound system and all models run a reversing camera (the only medium SUV to offer this safety features across the range).

Maxx and Maxx Sport models are trimmed in a choice of black cloth, while range-topping Grand Touring gets leather in either black or a new, light colour called ‘sand’. Aluminium and piano black lacquer trim highlights add class to the Mazda CX-5 interior. 

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Rear seat space is equally impressive as is the cargo area which includes as standard a clever tonneau blind which opens with the tailgate. Capacity is 1560-litres with the seats folded flat or 403-litres with the seat in-place.

And a special mention for Mazda CX-5’s clever remote seat release levers in the luggage area – mums-with-bubs, golfers, bikers etc appreciate that user-friendliness.

Mazda CX-5 Exterior & Styling

The first thing you’ll notice about the Mazda CX-5 is Mazda’s stylists and aerodynamicists have – like Mercedes-Benz – opted for an upright front grille (expect others to follow in the pursuit of optimized fuel consumption). And that stylish front grille is in fact the first appearance of a new face for all Mazda products.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Mazda CX-5 is a further example of the company’s ‘KODO – Soul Of Motion’ design language – evident in the sculptured sides and prominent front wheel arches.

Maxx and Maxx Sport models run 17-inch wheels (steel for the Maxx and alloy for Maxx Sport) while range-topping Grand Touring goes further with 19-inch alloys.

Mazda CX-5 On The Road

Car Showroom scored a Mazda CX-5 with ‘The Lot’ for the media preview launch drive from Albury to Canberra via the Snowy Mountains. Our Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring with Tech Pack Option looked prestige, painted in Stormy Blue Mica with the new ‘sand’ colour interior leather.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

First things first – when you get behind the wheel, is Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology really the break-though it claims? Yes is the answer.

Car Showroom has previously tested a prototype SKYACTIV Mazda 626 diesel with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission, but the Mazda CX-5 is the first production launch of all SKYACTIV technology combined. Impressive no doubt and on-sale now while Mazda’s boffins work on alternative fuel strategies in Japan – very smart move Mazda.

On this twisty route, which covered all kinds of sealed roads, some fast dirt and rutted, slow-speed tracks, our Mazda CX-5 excelled. Mazda CX-5 uses strut front suspension and a multi-link rear – combined with its new Electric Power Assist System.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

In terms of suspension calibration, Mazda went for rigid mounts for the front cross member and a fair bit of toe-in at the rear under load to reduce yaw gain at high speed – a fairly common set-up in motor sport circles.

So performance drivers will appreciate the Mazda’s CX-5’s impressive feedback and nimbleness. But this doesn’t come at the cost of refinement and even over some of the roughest stuff we encountered, NVH and rattles were not noticed.

In urban environments, the Mazda CX-5 was again nicely responsive and the 11.2-metre turning circle is amongst the best in this segment – a boon for parking in tight spots.

Mazda CX-5 Challenges

Our only points deduction goes against the Mazda CX-5’s 2.0-litre petrol engine (113kW/198Nm in AWD models as tested) – it just felt a little light-on over the hills and we worked the six-speed automatic hard as a result.

2012 MAZDA CX-5

Mazda did not have any diesel-powered CX-5s at the launch (they were still on the car-carrying ships from Japan) but we know - from that SKYACTIVE 626 we drove last year - the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with 129kW/420Nm on-tap is a potent performer, so we’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a diesel CX-5 in a few weeks.

Mazda CX-5 The Competition

Just last week we drove the all-new Ford Kuga in New Zealand and we have huge wraps on Ford’s all-new German-made medium SUV (even though an all-new model will be launched in Europe next year). Boasting great looks inside and out, strong on practicality and enjoying Ford’s superb 147kW/320Nm 2.5-litre, five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, the Ford Kuga isn’t the lowest-priced member of the segment (two models - $38,990 and $44,990).

Mazda CX-5 Likes

Handy prices; slick look; nice to drive; well-equipped; excellent build quality

Mazda CX-5 Dislikes

2.0-litre petrol engine is a bit underdone in a chassis this good

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