Monday, 12 October 2015

Review: Mazda CX-5 Maxx

Happy Monday everyone, it has been quite some time since I last put fingers to keys. However with life getting back to some sort of normality I thought a proper car review would be a good way to kick off summer and not just any car but one of Australia's best selling. I have been driving Mazda's CX-5, and with 2321 new ones finding homes last month let's see what all the fuss is about.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of Australia's best selling cars

It looks so darn good

Part of the CX-5's appeal is the way it looks. As of late Mazda design has been really on point with a mix of neat lines, sharp angles and good proportions doing there bit to create some really handsome cars. The CX-5 follows this recipe, with chunky wheel arches and a high ride height it looks every bit the safe SUV buyers crave while still sporting  a low car like roof and waist height crease to disguise any slab sidedness. A nice set of alloys really finish the CX-5 off but unfortunately the car I drove rode on steels.
Handsome lines of the Mazda CX-5 slightly disguised by dark blue colour choice

High ride height and chunky wheel arches leaves no doubt this is an SUV

Mazda CX-5 looks especially good from the back

Rising waistline of the CX-5 disguises any slab sidedness
Love the rear lights

How does it drive?

One thing those steelies are good for though is a supple ride, the car soaking up Melbourne's bumps and tram tracks admirably. And once out of the city you quickly learn of another reason why the CX-5 is so popular, the way it drives. The chassis, steering and suspension turn from compliant in the city to rewarding and informative on a back road, the CX-5 communicates with it's driver, never feeling vague. It felt reassuring behind the wheel, almost egging me on to explore the limits off the tires adhesion.
Review: Mazda CX-5

2 litre 114kw naturally aspirated engine

The only dynamic let down I had with this CX-5 Maxx was it's power train. A 114kw 2 litre engine resides upfront and honestly it felt underpowered and when mated to the 6 speed auto was a little rev happy under hard acceleration and uphill sections. Being a petrol head of course I am bias towards a nice manual but in this case I really felt that if I was fully in charge of those meagre 114kw I might have had even more fun driving it. And while it revved its little head off I couldn't help think that riding a wave of boost would make it an even more pleasurable experience, I understand Mazda's idea behind Skyactiv technology but does a little SUV like the CX-5 really need to be naturally aspirated? Personally I think the lack of power and subsequent engine noise detracts from an otherwise superb driving experience. Volkswagen's Tiguan for comparison is a good example of the turbo way of thinking at this sub $30,000 price point. It's also worth pointing out though that if you have your heart set on a manual this 2 litre Maxx trim level is the only CX-5 Mazda will sell you with a gear stick and clutch pedal. Economy wise after a day in city traffic, on the highway and in the country side I'd averaged 9.6l/100km a little off Mazda's quoted 6.4l/100km, although given more time with the car I'm sure I could have got closer to that figure.
Skyactiv tech

What's it like inside?

Logical and neat is the best way to describe the inside with weighty switchgear providing a premium feel in what otherwise is quite a sparse cabin. The 3 spoke steering wheel is a particular highlight, nice to hold and featuring control for the audio and phone you look through it to big clear dials. There's a touch screen radio, phone interface too which worked well, although it took some time to pair with my ageing smart phone. The rear view camera's a nice addition too, making manoeuvring much easier. Other positives when your inside is a lack of road noise, in the city at least, and a non intrusive stop/start system. Seating wise however, despite adjustment, I found myself sitting a bit too high, more on the car rather than in it, this also meant the arm rest was just a bit low to rest on comfortably. It's also worth noting that after an hour at the wheel I was getting a slightly numb left buttock! A very specific issue but an issue none the less. Overall though the CX-5 is a pleasant place to sit with enough room in the back for 3 adults and a boot big enough for all their luggage.
Nice simple interior in the Mazda CX-5

Infotainment system is good in the CX-5

CX-5 interior is spacious

CX-5 interior is spacious

The boot is suitably big

Rear view camera is a nice touch at this price point

Why has everyone bought one?

Well it's really down to a combination of everything, the CX-5 is handsome, spacious, fun to drive and in this specification, combined with a cheeky dealer offer really good value. If its mainly city work you do the 2 litre will suffice and I'll understand that an auto might be more practical. However for highway work and back road blasts the 2.5 litre petrol of torquey 2.2 litre turbo diesel might be more up your street, albeit these cars are auto only the extra power and as a result less noise they make propelling you along would be welcomed. There doesn't seem to be any sign of our current SUV love affair slowing, so if your in the market you might as well get one of the best you can and the Mazda CX-5 is that car.
Mazda CX-5 review

Mazda CX-5 review

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