Mazda’s CX-5 has been king of the mid sized SUV’s for some time now, which has presented them with the dilemma of how to update the crowd favourite without departing from a working formula. The solution comes in the form of minor improvements everywhere with no drastic alterations to the core that made it a success in the first place.
Take the visuals for instance. Mazda tells us every panel is new. By moving the roofline and bonnet back for a shallower front windscreen profile, everything else required a redesign to accommodate these changes. The front end is less cheery and more aggressive than before, with sharper lines, thinner headlights and a larger grille. The same design ethos carries through to the rear where the brake lights now cut into the rear panel. These changes don’t scream out at you and there’s a good chance you’ve already laid eyes on many a new CX-5 without even realising. It’s only when you take a breath and slowly examine the new model that its refreshed look become apparent.
There’s a number of changes on the inside that will be sure to stir jealousy from old owners. A larger center glovebox, extra bottle storage and additional storage pockets have been implemented, along with soft touch materials to make the interior functional as well as pleasant to view and use. One area that could use improvement is the roof mounted switch gear, which when depressed, the entire roof-line comes along for the ride. It is a minor blemish on an otherwise impressive interior.
The model tested is the second from base Maxx Sport, which includes dual zone climate control with rear air vents, centre armrest storage and two USB inputs for the rear seats. The rear seats offer great head room but leg room is average for adults and while the CX-5 is an SUV, it’s only a mid-sized one so packing 5 adults into it comfortably for a road trip should be reserved for the most forgiving of friends. At the back Mazda has increased the rear storage by 10%, bringing it up to a total of 442 litres, not the largest in its class but still respectable. Drop those mid row seats and capacity jumps to a hefty 1,342 litres.
Driving the CX-5 is a rewarding experience, not something I ever thought I’d be saying about an SUV but Mazda has yet again done an excellent job in setting up the steering and suspension. The CX-5 now features Mazda’s G-Vectoring control which uses minute throttle inputs to shift the weight of the car front and rear when cornering for ideal grip and traction. It’s comfortable around town, too. Those 17-inch alloys might look a little small from the outside but the added comfort from the larger tyres doesn’t go unnoticed on poor roads.
There’s a bit of weight to the steering which I’m a big fan of. It’s not so much that it’ll tire you out, just enough to provide the feedback when you want it. The front seats compromise in their ability to hold occupants with not enough shoulder and side bolster support when the pace is pushed and the g forces pile on – a choice Mazda made in order to allow easier access, which for an SUV makes perfect sense, no matter how good it is through the twisty stuff.
A well sorted chassis needs to be reinforced by a capable motor and the CX-5 has the goods here, too. The familiar 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder petrol engine has had its power boosted to 140kW at 6,000rpm and torque bumped up to 251Nm at 4,000rpm. It’s largely the same engine as the previous model and still delivers a nice chunky powerband that’s a joy to rev out. Matched to the 6-speed automatic gearbox, the power comes on smoothly and the gear shifts are similarly velvety. I wish I could say the same about Mazda’s i-stop auto idle stop/start system which is clunky and unrefined on occasion. It’s best left turned off.
The best fuel consumption figure I was able to draw out of the engine was 11.6L/100km, which was mostly suburban driving and short trips. Mazda lists the 2.5L CX-5 Maxx Sport at a combined 7.5L/100km, so expect to be closer to that than our figure once you factor in freeway driving and a more conservative driving style.
There’s a few annoyances that became apparent during the test period that I’ve got to mention. The metallic finished air vents cast their reflection directly onto the side mirror which is distracting on sunny days and the trip control buttons is a pain to use when jumping between the different options as it’s mounted above the trip screen behind the wheel. There’s also no digital speed readout to be found at all so you’ll need to make do with the analogue gauge instead.
Mazda has made a huge effort to dampen any external noise from the CX-5’s occupants and it shows. From the inside, the CX-5 does an admirable job of shielding engine, wind and tyre noise from the cabin which improves overall refinement. And what better way to fill the void with a solid stereo system. It’s here too that the CX-5 doesn’t disappoint. The MZD Connect system comes standard with DAB+ and thanks to the large volume of cabin space, it brings out the best in your music. Unfortunately you’ll be relying on radio, bluetooth or AUX to funnel your library of music through to the speakers as neither Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are available through the system. Overall the MZD Connect system is snappy and quick to startup except for when it’s just been started, where there’s a noticeable delay until everything gets loaded.
Like most new cars, the CX-5 comes with cruise control but Mazda has gone the extra mile and added a speed limiter. It’s not anywhere near as cool as a radar guided system but it’s still a useful feature to have and you’ll find yourself using it a fair bit on our speed camera infested roads.
When it comes to tech and toys the CX-5 comes with a good range of safety focused systems with only the coolest toys reserved for the top spec Akera model. The Maxx Sport variant tested here comes standard with:
- Forward and Reverse Smart City Brake Support
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Rear parking sensors
- Blind Spot Monitoring
- Reverse Camera
- Satellite Navigation
- Keyless push button engine start
For a full rundown on the features available in the other grades check out this news article that also includes pricing for all variations.
Design and Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance and Handling: 8.5/10
Equipment and Features: 8/10
Even though the CX-5 Maxx Sport is one of the lower grades available, it’s far from bare bones. The features included will get plenty of use and make your life more convenient.
Even more impressive is how Mazda has taken a large heavy car and taught it how to handle like a dream. The feedback from the wheel and and grunty motor all help to deliver a driving experience that puts even some lighter hot hatches to shame.
- Rewarding and engaging driving experience
- Upmarket cabin
- Stereo delivers
- Nicely refined
- Auto idle start/stop needs improvement
- No digital speed readout
- Rear leg room lacking
2017 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport AWD 2.5-litre Petrol
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $37,390|
As tested: $37,390
|Warranty:||3 years/unlimited kilometers|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||2.5-litre SKYACTIVE-G four-cylinder petrol with stop/start|
140kW @ 6,000rpm, 251Nm @ 4,000rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||89.5|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 6.4 / Tested: 11.6|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||58|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 8 Airbags, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward/Reverse Smart City Brake Support, Reverse Camera, ABS, ESC, TCS, EBD|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4550/1840/1675/2700|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,633|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,800kg / Unbraked: 750kg|
|Entertainment:||7 inch colour touchscreen with MZD Connect, 6-speaker, Bluetooth/USB/Aux input, satellite navigation|