Mazda’s award-winning compact SUV the CX-5 has just got even more appealing thanks to a raft of design, technical and engineering improvements. It is packed with on-board technology and thanks to the use of strong, but lightweight materials the car delivers excellent economy.

The good

Excellent handling, on-board technology and value

The bad

Competing in a segment that is packed with quality models

Tech Specs

Price from
Combined Fuel up to
0-62 from
9.0 seconds
max speed up to
co2 from

Test Drive

Mazda CX-5 2.2D 150PS 2WD SE-L NAV (2018)

The overwhelming popularity and demand for SUVs has taken the motoring world by storm leaving manufacturers needing at least one unique selling point these days to stand out from the ever-growing crowd.

Thankfully for Japanese marque Mazda the mid-sized CX-5, which has just entered its second generation, oozes charm and appeal with exquisite athletic styling, sublime comfort levels, tremendous handling capabilities and all the latest on-board technology you could possibly wish for.

First impressions are vital with rivals such as the SEAT Ateca, Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 3008 all vying for sales, but the Mazda can compete at any level. The original CX-5 was the car that launched the company’s award-winning KODO: Soul and Motion design philosophy when it debuted back in 2012 offering an amazing combination of style, driving dynamics and efficiency.

The latest model has a sportier more dynamic appearance thanks to a powerful front end with wider grille, lower roofline, improved lighting and slimmer tail lights. Our test car featured 17-inch alloys, privacy glass, body-coloured bumpers and LED daytime running lights.

There have been modifications to the CX-5 within the cabin too where Mazda has combined the finest materials to create a premium and upmarket interior. Comfort levels are high for all occupants and there is ample room for a trio of back seat passengers to stretch out with generous levels of leg and head room.

The car is kitted out with all the latest on-board technology, including a seven-inch colour touchscreen with integrated sat nav system and three years free European mapping updates. There is simple smartphone connectivity as well as a 10-speaker Bose sound system, a DAB digital radio and dual zone climate control.

Our test car was priced at £26,095, although the addition of metallic paint meant the cost increased slightly to £26,655. And the performance stats are notable too with a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.4 seconds, top speed of 127mph and, according to official figures, combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 132g/km.

Apart from the distinctive design tweaks and subtler interior enhancements, the Mazda engineers have been busy improving the car’s overall performance and handling. There have been upgrades to the steering, suspension and brakes plus the arrival of G-Vectoring Control which makes the CX-5 more responsive than its predecessor. It is also much quieter within the cabin – even when pushed hard.

Thanks to the elevated seating position, the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and all the controls, switches and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use. It would be fair to say that the Mazda CX-5 is a car that’s very easy to feel at home with in a short space of time.

But comfort and styling aside, Mazda is a company that prides itself on delivering vehicles that offer outstanding driving dynamics and this latest CX-5 doesn’t disappoint in that department. In congested city centres, it proved deceptively agile for its size as it weaved through the crowds – the excellent visibility proved a bonus here too with cars and pedestrians darting out from all angles.

Then out on the motorways, the CX-5 easily kept pace with fast moving traffic and even at higher speeds there was very little sign of any irritating engine, road surface or wind noise filtering through into the cabin.

But it was out on the open road and country lanes where the stylish SUV really impressed. The road holding was ultra grippy and there’s oodles of driver feedback through the direct steering making it an absolute joy to throw into long sweeping bends.

The slightly stiffer suspension means you will feel the occasional jolt along the way when you hit a small pothole, but for a vehicle as high-sided as the CX-5 there is minimal body roll when tackling sharp bends.

Obviously, being an SUV, the car needs to cater for the active family and it has all bases covered with a boot capacity that ranges from 506 litres to 1,620 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Elsewhere, there are numerous convenient storage options scattered throughout the car, including a console box beneath the central armrest where USB connection outlets are located. It rather cleverly has a grove so that any connected cables don’t get squeezed when the lid is closed. The glovebox is designed to accommodate a 10-inch tablet and the door bins have grown in size and now feature a non-slip finish.

When it comes to safety, the CX-5 achieved the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating. It features the likes of stability control, six airbags and Smart City Brake Support as standard.

The only real negative point is the lack of a seven-seat option such as the Skoda Kodiaq. Otherwise though, the Mazda CX-5 is an outstanding model that ticks all the boxes for style, performance, practicality and economy in the busy and bustling SUV sector.

Test drive

Mazda CX-5 2.2 150PS 2WD Sport Nav Diesel (2017)

There’s an old saying that wisely claims: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and while that may be true in many situations, there is always room for improvement as Mazda has shown with its classy CX-5 model.

This is the compact SUV that introduced Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology along with the company’s KODO: Soul and Motion design philosophy when it was launched back in 2012 and it scooped numerous awards for its combination of style, driving dynamics and efficiency.

Such is the success of the car it boasts global sales topping the 1.5 million mark and now accounts for almost a quarter of Mazda’s sales with more than 32,000 CX-5 models purchased here in the UK.

And its appeal is likely to increase even further because the latest CX-5 has a fresh look, along with an all-new interior design plus added refinement, so it’s clear to see that Mazda has really raised the bar.

The new CX-5 features a lower roofline giving it a sportier appearance, along with a powerful front end with a wider grille, improved lighting and narrower tail lights. The test car, priced at £29,495 which included the option of Soul Red Crystal paint, also looked striking on stand-out 19-inch Gunmetal alloys.

Move inside the cabin and it oozes fresh, modern styling with a very upmarket and premium feel to it. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces along with smart black leather upholstery. The heated front seats are power adjustable (eight-way for the driver and six-way for the front passenger) and there is a wealth of technology to explore. Creature comforts include a 10-speaker Bose sound system, a 7-inch colour touch-screen display with Mazda’s integrated navigation system, DAB radio, dual-zone climate control and a head-up display that reflects information directly onto the windscreen rather than via a unit that pops up from the dash on earlier models.

The car was powered by a 2.2-litre 150PS diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and it could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.4 seconds and topped out at 127mph. According to official figures, the CX-5 could deliver combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 132g/km. During my week-long test I was seeing just over 49mpg which is very close to the official mark.

Many of the latest improvements are under the skin of the car and out of sight from the naked eye, but they serve a valuable purpose. For example, Mazda engineers have gone to great lengths to reduce noise and vibration levels within the cabin. A stiffer body, improvements to the steering, suspension and brakes along with the introduction of G-Vectoring Control help to make the CX-5 more comfortable and responsive than its predecessor. And the dazzling Soul Red Crystal paint is a new colour choice that’s guaranteed to turn heads as the car sweeps by.

In fairness, the original CX-5 was a fabulous car to drive but the new version is even better. It feels sharper and more dynamic in the way it handles, with greater driver feedback through the steering. It’s a car that can be driven with confidence and pushed hard into long sweeping bends without any fear of grip-loss or body roll and the improved suspension helps to iron out any creases along the way.

There is ample power from the 2.2-litre engine and the gear changes proved smooth and responsive making it a car that is happy ambling around town or blasting through the long motorway journeys.

The elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and the space within the cabin impresses too with ample room for two or three adults in the back. The boot capacity is 506 litres which is increased to 1,620 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat, and for the first time, the car comes fitted with a convenient powered tailgate.

Elsewhere, there are numerous handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car. The glovebox is shaped to hold a 10-inch tablet, the console box beneath the centre armrest has a larger capacity and now has a groove to accommodate the power cord of devices attached to the USB – this is a particular pet hate of mine when the box lid has to be left open so it doesn’t press down on the wire. Another area where improvements have been made is the door pockets which have all been deepened and their bases now feature a non-slip finish. These may sound like small details, but they are details that count to owners.

All in all, it’s clear that Mazda is not resting on its laurels when it comes to the CX-5. It would seem that the feedback from customers has been listened to very carefully and then acted upon making the new CX-5 even more appealing.

Test Drive

Mazda CX-5 2.2 175PS AWD Sport Nav Diesel

The demand for crossovers is ever increasing with customers looking for models that are easy on the eye, packed with technology, boast attractive economy figures and can cope with all their practicality and versatility needs.

And it’s those strict criteria that put pressure on manufacturers to come up with the goods and tick all the right boxes – thankfully the striking Mazda CX-5 is a winner on all counts.

The model is an instant attention-grabber with its rugged and sporty stance. Stand-out features include 19-inch Gunmetal alloys, a large grille, twin tailpipes, muscular wheel arches, a high mounted spoiler, body-coloured door mirrors and handles, adaptive front lights, tinted windows, a tow bar and plenty more besides.

Step inside the cabin and there is a wealth of techno treats and creature comforts to be explored.

The supportive leather seats are power adjustable and can be heated, there is a pitch-perfect Bose surround-sound system with 19, speakers, sat nav with a seven-inch colour touchscreen, plus a whole host of other features that are accessed via an easy-to-operate dial that is conveniently positioned near the gearstick.

The CX-5 was the first Mazda model to feature the company’s SKYACTIV technology which offered a strong lightweight chassis combined with the latest powertrains to deliver efficient running costs without compromising on safety or performance.

As a result, the test car powered by a punchy 2.2-litre 175PS diesel engine could sprint from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 129mph.

According to official figures it can achieve combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 129g/km.

The driver is treated to an elevated ride height and so benefits from excellent all-round visibility which is an important factor in a vehicle that will often be used on the school run.

In busy town centres the CX-5 proved deceptively agile and easy to manoeuvre with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera proving a true bonus when squeezing into tight parking spaces.

But as with many crossovers, the CX-5 is anything but a pipe and slippers car that only enjoys the city life.

It excels when let loose on the open road and easily keeps pace with fast-moving motorway traffic as it accelerates through the six-speed manual gearbox.

The road holding is solid and reassuring and although there is a little road-surface and engine noise when the vehicle is pushed particularly hard, it is not too bad. And after all, that’s when the Bose sound system really comes into its own.

There is ample room in the car for five adults and the storage options are impressive too with a 503-litre boot capacity which can be increased to 1,620 litres with the 40:20:40 rear seats dropped down flat. Elsewhere there are cup holders, good-sized door pockets, a deep central bin and a glovebox.

The CX-5 also boasts a comprehensive range of safety specifications. As well as the more instantly-recognisable systems such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, hill-hold assist, stability control and airbags, the test model was fitted with a Safety Pack costing £800 extra which introduced the likes of blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, adaptive LED headlights, lane-keep assist and rear smart city brake support. And, of course, it had all-wheel-drive capabilities to keep you on the road during the cold, winter months.

All in all, the Mazda CX-5 priced at £29,395 (£31,055 with options) is a complete all-rounder. It looks stunning, is packed with technology, it is practical, drives well and is reasonably priced – basically it’s everything a quality crossover should be.

Test Drive

Mazda CX-5 2.0 Sport Nav 165PS 2WD

With its striking good looks, excellent range of on-board specifications, outstanding performance credentials and sheer fun factor Mazda’s CX-5 really is something special.

It looks fantastic from any angle and the test model was supplied in crystal white pearlescent paint which shone like a star.

Other eye-catching features guaranteed to turn heads are sweeping lines, smart light clusters, 19-inch alloys and bi-xenon headlights. The chunky ready-for-action stance along with tinted windows add further to its appealing characteristics.

Once inside you cannot fail to be impressed with the level of on-board technology that greets you. The leather seats can be heated at the press of a button and all controls and dials are ideally positioned for ease of use. Other creature comforts include a brilliant audio system, TomTom sat nav with a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen display, a multi-function leather sports steering wheel, parking sensors, a highly efficient air con system and plenty more besides.

The fact that the vehicle features nine BOSE speakers suggests Mazda has not cut any corners with the CX-5.

There is plenty of space for five occupants to travel in style, four in complete comfort and storage is catered for via the generously sized boot which be extended further thanks to split-folding rear seats.

Elsewhere, there is a large glove-box and central bucket along with deep door pockets and cup-holders.

Black leather seats, subtle red stitching and flashes of brushed aluminium help give the CX-5 a sense of premium styling, but the price of £27.7k with all the additional bells and whistles is pretty appealing too.

So the CX-5 looks great, is bursting with technical wizardry and classy stylish features, but how does it perform when put to the test on the road?

Well, fear not, because the CX-5 is an absolute pleasure to drive and boy, it loves to be driven!

The six-speed manual transmission is smooth and responsive and the 2.0-litre petrol-powered engine delivers all the oomph you could wish for. Acceleration is constant and road-holding flawless – even in very wet conditions on tight bends there is no sign of the car deviating from its path.

Cabin noise is very low which again is good for a vehicle of this size and all-round visibility is also excellent thanks to the high-seated driving position.

Despite being powered by a 165PS petrol engine, the CX-5 can still return a combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg which means trips to the petrol pumps to fill up will be few and far between.

Mazda has packed a comprehensive range of safety specifications into the car helping it achieve maximum safety marks in the Euro NCAP ratings.

All in all, the Mazda CX-5 really is the complete package and will certainly have rival manufacturers scampering back to the drawing board.

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