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, although it does come with a responsive automatic gearbox as standard, sparing you the constant gear-changing.
That’s especially true if you upgrade to one of the higher trims that come with the larger 19in alloy wheels and lower-profile tyres. For the best ride comfort, we’d advise sticking to entry-level SE-L trim, which includes 17in alloys.
Thanks to its stiffer suspension setup, the CX-5 is better at controlling body lean and has more grip through corners than the softer C5 Aircross.
The steering is much quicker than you might expect in a car of this size and takes some getting used to. Once you're familiar with it, it’s accurate, naturally weighted and gives you ample feedback to make placing the car easy.