New Kia Sportage vs New Mazda CX-5: interiors

An update gives us cause to take a fresh look at Mazda’s CX-5 – and find out whether it’s a better buy than talented family SUV rivals such as the all-new Kia Sportage...

New Kia Sportage dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Both the Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5 offer lofty and comfortable driving positions, with plenty of electric adjustment for seats that are lined up neatly with the pedals and steering wheels. However, longer-limbed drivers might prefer the Sportage, because it offers a greater range of reach adjustment for its steering wheel, allowing them to sit farther back than in the CX-5, with more room in which to stretch out.

The Sportage has the edge when it comes to visibility, too. While both offer a good view of the road ahead, the Sportage’s windscreen pillars are less obstructive at junctions and roundabouts. Rearward visibility is slightly hampered by thick rear pillars in both cars, but at least they come with front and rear parking sensors and rear-view cameras to help with low-speed manoeuvring.

New Mazda CX-5 dashboard

It’s no surprise to find that the Sportage, being a brand new model, has a more modern dashboard design. There’s a large (12.3in) digital instrument panel in front of the driver that displays lots of useful information, including your speed and sat-nav directions, in a choice of colour themes.

Although it has been updated, the CX-5’s instrument panel still uses a mixture of analogue dials and a central digital screen for the speedo and limited additional information, although it does come with a head-up display – a feature that isn’t available on the Sportage. This beams some useful information, such as your speed and the prevailing speed limit, onto a translucent panel on the dashboard (rather than onto the windscreen itself, like some do).

New Mazda CX-5 infotainment control

The CX-5 has physical knobs and buttons for its climate control system that are a doddle to operate on the move, although the temperature readout is a little too low down to read at a glance. Knobs are also used to adjust the air temperature in the Sportage – these being easier to operate while driving than the touchscreen-based controls found in rivals such as the Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC40. The rest of its air-con controls are located on a slim yet easy-to-read touch panel that can be switched over to show media functions instead, helping to tidy up the dashboard.

Both cars are fairly swish inside, with plenty of soft-touch materials and metallic highlights across the dashboard. However, the CX-5 does a better job of hiding the cheaper plastics below eye level, giving it a higher-quality feel overall.


Kia Sportage

New Kia Sportage infotainment

The Sportage’s 12.3in touchscreen trumps the CX-5’s display in terms of size, graphics and colour contrast. The fact that the screen is taller than the CX-5’s is particularly helpful when viewing the sat-nav map, although some of the smaller icons (such as the one to cancel the sat-nav route) are either too easy to overlook or simply difficult to aim for when driving. Still, the screen responds quickly to inputs and the menus are simple to navigate.

Mazda CX-5

New Mazda CX-5 infotainment

The narrow aspect ratio of the CX-5’s new 10.25in screen makes it look smaller than it is, but it’s mostly easy to read. Even better, it’s easily controlled via a dial just behind the gearlever. Scrolling through the alphabet in the sat-nav to enter addresses might take a little longer than using a touchscreen, but it’s more precise when navigating through menus on the move. This can be far less distracting than the touchscreen-only set-up of the Sportage.

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