Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Mazda doesn't use turbochargers to boost the performance of its petrol engines, which makes it almost unique among car manufacturers. That means that while the CX-5's 163bhp 2.0 Skyactiv-G 165 has more power than, say, the Citroën C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130, it's no quicker.
It's a lot less flexible from low revs, too, so you have to get to 3000rpm and beyond to release its performance, making it harder work to drive because you're changing gears more often. It's still our favourite engine in the CX-5 range, though. The 191bhp 2.5 Skyactiv-G 194 is only a little bit faster and uses a lot more fuel (we'll look at costs in greater detail later), although it does come with a responsive automatic gearbox as standard, sparing you the constant gear-changing.
With that in mind, if you value comfort we'd suggest sticking with the smaller 17in alloy wheels (standard on SE-L trim) because the larger 19in alloys and lower-profile tyres fitted to the higher trims make the ride even worse.
The Mazda CX-5 handles quite well compared with the Citroën C5 Aircross. It has a stiffer suspension set-up so it leans a lot less and its steering is more accurate, offering a greater degree of feedback. That said, it's no better than the Peugeot 5008 and, if handling is your top priority, the Seat Tarraco and VW Tiguan Allspace are even sharper to drive.