Say you’ve been living the sports car life and you’re about to start a family after settling down. Next thing you know, your other half wants you to give it up for an SUV. What do you do? Find a proper
So then, you start browsing for SUVs but none of them appeals to the driving enthusiast in you. Until you stumble upon the Mazda CX-5 and its whole Jinba Ittai philosophy. Sounds like the ideal compromise between driving engagement and practicality. Or is it? We’re here to find out.
The Mazda CX-5 has had several updates since its introduction back in 2017. The latest update saw the GL/GLS designations replaced by Mid/High to match its newer stablemates.
Exterior - Still looks fresh
The Mazda CX-5 has been around for a few years now but I think it still looks fresh from the outside. Not only that, it’s one of my favourite looking SUVs at the moment.
The menacing front grille, sleek LED headlamps, and minimal but pronounced lines across the body just ties in everything beautifully.
However, there are a couple of nitpicks I have from a visual standpoint. One of which is due to the trim level – the 17-inch wheels look a little too tiny for the CX-5. Although the plus side is lower replacement costs and better ride comfort.
The other one is the taillamps just look a bit too slim compared to the car’s overall height.
Then again, it’s a matter of preference. Let us know what you think of the Mazda CX-5’s design in the comments section below.
Panel gaps were fairly consistent between each sides, deviating by no more than 0.5 mm apart of the tailgate, which has a 1.0 mm deviation. Paint thickness averaged in the 90s of μm.
Interior - Not quite as fresh
While the exterior still looks fresh, I can’t quite say the same about the interior. This is apparent when you jump back to back from the CX-30 to the CX-5. The CX-30’s interior looks and feels even more premium than the larger CX-5.
It’s partly due to the infotainment that runs on the previous generation system and its display size is smaller. Upside is the Mazda Connect is intuitive and easy to use. Plus, it supports Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The analogue instrument cluster seems a little dated as well, particularly with the trip/odometer stick thingy. But that’s comparing against Mazda’s newer offerings.
Compared to its rivals like the Honda CR-V or even the much pricier Toyota RAV4, the CX-5’s interior is still ahead of them in terms of material selection and overall quality. What the CX-5 loses out against its rivals is interior and boot space.
But amenities and storage spaces are aplenty in the CX-5. The front centre armrest has a two-tier compartment which is convenient for loose items and the door bins can fit large bottles. One neat feature is the 2 USB ports in the centre folding armrest for the rear passengers.
As with all Mazdas, the pedal positioning and the steering wheel position in relation to the centre of body is spot on. No offset steering wheel or pedals here. Not in a Mazda.
Driving Experience - Pleasant in day-to-day driving
Starting with the powertrain, the throttle response along with the 6-speed automatic transmission’s calibration makes the CX-5 feel rather lively off the line. Prod the throttle harder than usual and the car leaps forward with enthusiasm.
But if you’re gentle and linear with it, the CX-5 responds accordingly. Personally, I can appreciate this calibration as it allows the driver to control precisely how much throttle to apply, rather than numbing the response for the sake of efficiency.
Steering is sharp and direct. For an SUV, the response when you apply steering in connection to the body is rather impressive. It just feels more connected than most of its rivals.
Take it easy through the corners and the CX-5 will demonstrate a composed behaviour with well-contained body roll, exactly how a family car should behave. Overcook it though, and even the GVC+ system can’t hide its high centre of gravity nor its mass, so the tyres will protest and you’ll push wide. But really, you shouldn’t be doing this in an SUV.
The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine is perfectly adequate for city driving. But if you do fill up the seats with passengers plus their belongings and whatnot, it does feel a little lacklustre especially when overtaking.
As tested, the Mazda CX-5 completed the 0-100 km/h run in 11.3 seconds.
So, if you do ferry multiple passengers frequently with lots of highway driving, then you should consider the larger 2.5-litre engine or even the 2.2-litre diesel.
Ride Comfort - Ride quality could be plusher
In the spectrum of SUVs, the Mazda CX-5 sits on the firmer side. Even on 17-inch wheels with high profile rubbers, the ride is still a tad busy. The suspension just doesn’t seem to settle at a cruise and you’d always feel the slight jiggles. That being said, it’s not as stiff as the CX-30.
And the thick profile tyres do round off sharp edges well without much of a jolt to the cabin, apart from abnormally large bumps or potholes of course. As far as suspension pliancy goes, the Toyota RAV4 sets the benchmark.
The seats, both front and rear, are nicely sculptured to provide good back and thigh support on longer journeys. There's no reclining function for the rear seats, but its angle should be comfortable enough for most.
Sound insulation is rather impressive. Exterior noises are well suppressed thanks to the double-glazed front windows, so you’d hardly hear traffic or wind noise. The only sound that’s ever-present is the engine noise, especially at higher revs. At 110 km/h, the sound level meter recorded an average of 68 dB.
After a journey of 124.8 km broken down to 50/50 highway and city driving, the Mazda CX-5 2.0L returned a fuel consumption figure of 9.3-litre/100 km. The onboard computer showed an average of 10.7 km/litre, which translates to an identical 9.3-litre/100 km. Nice.
If you’re in the market for something more practical and spacious, then the CX-5 doesn’t quite cut the mustard. That would be the Honda CR-V or Volkswagen Tiguan. Or if comfort is priority, then the Proton X70 is a great choice.
But if you crave for something a little more special to drive, or if you happen to be in the initial scenario in which you're looking for an SUV to succeed the sports car life, then the Mazda CX-5 is a worthy candidate.
It’s pleasing to look at (subjectively), has a well-appointed interior, and has commendable driving dynamics. The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine may not be fast, but it provides adequate pace for daily driving.
The only real complaint is the omission of Adaptive Cruise Control. But then again as driving enthusiasts, we aren’t that particular about that feature, are we?