Review: 2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo AWD, zoom-zoom amplified

Adrian Chia/Oct 04, 2019 06:10 PM

(Model | Gallery)

What is it?

The Mazda CX-5 is a 5-seater C-Segment SUV that slots in between the CX-3 and CX-8. It competes against the likes of the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. The CX-5 is locally assembled at Mazda Malaysia’s manufacturing plant in Kulim.

In October 2019, Bermaz Motor introduced an updated version of their most popular SUV but do note that this is not a facelift exercise. This update is known as a running change where manufacturers revise the specification list – for better or worse.

In the case of the MY19 CX-5, Bermaz Motor has added new connectivity features as well as the 2.5-litre Turbo AWD variant which undoubtedly injected some excitement to the market. No changes to the exterior styling here, hence, a running change.

We spent the weekend with the CX-5 2.5 Turbo AWD prior to its official market availability and found the SUV to be hilariously quick. It is a unique proposition for buyers looking for a strong long-distance cruiser from a Japanese maker.

What’s new

For the MY2019 CX-5, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity now comes as standard on all variants – a big plus and upgrade for in-car connectivity. Although, the infotainment system still runs on the 7.0-inch touchscreen MZD Connect system and not the latest non-touchscreen unit as seen on the all-new Mazda 3.

Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC+) is also included in all variants of the MY19 CX-5 which helps deliver a more comfortable and reassuring ride.

Unique to the CX-5 2.5T is the windscreen-projected full-colour heads-up display which also makes it the only car in the segment to be equipped with this feature.

This range-topping model is also equipped with the new instrument cluster like the all-new Mazda 3 that uses a 7.0-inch LCD TFT multi-info display in the centre flanked by analogue speedometer, water temperature and fuel reserve gauge.

Exterior

There are no changes to the exterior compared to the previous CX-5 2.2D AWD and I think it is still one of the best-looking SUVs on the market right now.

Ever wondered why a CX-5 looks so intimidating in your rear-view mirror? This is the effect of Mazda’s KODO: Soul of Motion design philosophy which aims to elude the stance of a wild animal ready to pounce on its prey.

But my favourite aspect of the CX-5 (and Mazda’s new cars in general) is this Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint finish. It’s a RM 3,000 cost option for this premium paintwork but boy does it worth every penny.

Soul Red Crystal Metallic uses a three-coat Takuminuri painting technology which gives the red paint 20% greater saturation and 50% more depth compared to the previous Soul Red paint. Rain or shine, the paint has a very deep and rich look to it which I very much adore, and it helps to highlight the clean lines of the CX-5.

Interior

Mazda’s cabin is one of the most luxurious in the business and is a demonstration of their aspirations to be a premium Japanese brand.

Mazda certainly did not skimp on material quality as all the key touchpoints are draped in soft, high-quality leather. Even the plastics on the lower sections of the dashboard are smooth to the touch which adds to the feel-good factor.

Interior space has never been Mazda’s strongest suit but the CX-5 will comfortably accommodate a pack of five average-sized adults. The seat sculpture is also very ergonomic for a relaxed seating position on long-distance journeys. But the CR-V still takes the cake for outright interior space.

The boot of the CX-5 is very family-friendly, with a low load lip and wide apertures. The powered tailgate equipped on the CX-5 2.5T is also a welcomed addition. I particularly like how the tonneau cover is designed to be latched onto the tailgate and opens up together with the tailgate.

I like to call myself lazy efficient. So to me, skipping a step of opening the tonneau cover when loading items is an ingenious engineering solution.

The 7.0-inch MZD touchscreen infotainment system has been around since 2014 and the graphics are not as attractive as more modern systems out there. But the user experience is still one of the best out there – smooth and snappy with a logical user interface. All that made better with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity!

The instrument cluster design is lovely, with the right amount of high-tech impression without sacrificing legibility. Although I find it weird how there are two fuel gauge displays (three if you cycle the central 7.0-inch LCD TFT screen to distance to empty)

Is it really necessary?

Driving performance and handling

With 230 PS and 420 Nm of torque on tap from the 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder SkyActiv-G petrol engine, the CX-5 is the most powerful-petrol powered SUV in its class. To put things into perspective, it generates more torque than a Mercedes-AMG A35.

Sprinting off the line, the CX-5 2.5T took 7.8 seconds (as tested) to hit the 100 km/h mark – which is enough to beat any Honda Civic 1.5T in a traffic light sprint.

The way it delivers power is also exceptionally linear, very much like a naturally aspirated engine. This power delivery characteristic not only makes it better to drive but also more comfortable for the passengers.

What’s even more impressive is the car’s in-gear acceleration. Even at our national speed limit, all you need is a little prod from your right foot and the engine responds with a healthy swell of torque, propelling you to very illegal speeds, very quickly.

Fortunately, the CX-5 2.5T comes with all-wheel drive system (AWD) (the only variant to have AWD) which gives the driver the assurance when putting all that power to the ground. Around the bends, the GVC+ (now with brake-based torque vectoring) masks the SUVs 1.7-tonne curb weight, allowing you to carry ridiculous speed around the bends confidently.

Nothing else in the segment comes close to the handling prowess of the CX-5.

Ride comfort

However, with this level of dynamism, the suspension is unsurprisingly on the firmer side of things. As such, the CX-5 does not iron out undulations as supple as its rivals like the Honda CR-V.

The suspension is busy when travelling on rougher patches and the jolts do get transmitted into the cabin although not intrusively so. It’s a trade-off for an SUV that handles corners like a champ.

Cabin refinement on this generation of the CX-5 is not only up to par with the competition, it betters some of them too. The use of double-glazed windows, additional insulation materials in the wheel wells and engine hood are very effective in blocking exterior noise from seeping into the engine.

Fuel economy

Its 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain does not exactly spell fuel-efficient, but acceptable for a car of this nature. We’ve used 15.201 litres of fuel over 146.2 km which works out to a fuel consumption of 10.4 litres per 100 km.

The onboard fuel consumption reading is quite accurate

The CX-5 2.5T AWD has a 56-litre capacity fuel tank which works out to a theoretical range of 538 km per full tank.

Conclusion

The introduction of the 2.5-litre turbocharged variant is a move to trim Mazda’s unpopular diesel line up, offering an equally powerful petrol-powered replacement in its place.

Its dynamism shows that Mazda’s are still building cars that are fun to drive as even their SUVs are staying true to the Jinba Ittai (horse and rider as one) driving philosophy.

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5T AWD is a fantastic cruiser on the highway and a fun companion around the bends. Yet it has enough space to also fulfil all your family needs.

If there is one car that will please the driving enthusiast and the missus, I can’t think of a better option than the Mazda CX-5 2.5T AWD.

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