The pick of the engine range is the 148bhp 2.2 diesel. It pulls hard from 1500rpm and keeps on going all the way to the redline. It’s so good in fact, that there’s little point spending more on the more powerful 173bhp version. With the 2.0-litre petrol, most of the power sits at the top of the rev range, so you have to work it hard.
The CX-5 has none of the sloppy, wallowing responses of traditional, soft SUVs. It conceals its size and height well, feeling more like a sprightly hatchback thanks to the strong grip, accurate steering and solid body control. The flipside of this control is that the ride has an undeniably firm edge, though it stops short of being uncomfortable.
The lower-powered diesel engine is impressively smooth and quiet, but the higher-powered version is louder and causes more vibration to come through the controls. The petrol engine isn’t quite as subdued because you have to rev it hard much of the time. Unfortunately, there’s too much wind and road noise to be heard on all CX-5s.
Prices are pretty competitive, and residuals values are likely to be reasonable, too. The impressive bit, though, is the super-low running costs you’ll get from the efficient powertrains available. All versions of the CX-5 are among the cleanest cars of their type, with our favourite version, the 148bhp diesel with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, delivering the lowest running costs.
The dashboard looks pretty classy, with soft-touch materials, piano black inserts and chrome detailing. However, everything south of the dash is made from hard, workmanlike plastic that feels rather drab. Still, it looks durable and Mazda’s impressive reliability record should give you peace of mind.
As you’d expect these days, the CX-5 comes with stability control and a collection of six airbags. It also comes with a City Braking system that stops the car automatically if it senses an impending collision when you’re travelling at less than 10 mph. It slows the car down up to 19mph. All this helped the car achieve a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. Security measures include an alarm and immobiliser.
With lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The dash is sensibly laid out and versions with sat-nav have a BMW iDrive-style controller for the infotainment system – it’s not as intuitive as the BMW system, but it works pretty well. Rear visibility could be better, though, due to the thick rear pillars.
This is where the CX-5 really impresses. Four people will have room to luxuriate thanks to the plentiful head and legroom, and while the middle rear seat is narrower than those either side, you can still sit comfortably with your feet on top of the low, flat transmission tunnel. The boot is huge, and the spring-loaded rear seats fold down easily to give you an almost flat load area.
Entry-level SE-L trim comes with lots of luxury kit, including alloys, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers, four powered windows and cruise control. Pricier Sport models add leather trim, xenon headlamps, a reversing camera and an upgraded stereo. You can add sat-nav to both trims.
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