I’ve a sneaking suspicion that come autumn, around the time the clocks go back, the phones in Mazda’s press office go ever so slightly quieter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure there’s still a steady stream of calls from hacks like me asking to be lent a press car or three. And you can almost guarantee that there’ll be calls to say that the MX-5, Mazda’s perennial roadster, has picked up yet more gongs at the various award ceremonies that fill the automotive calendar just as everyone’s thoughts turn toward fireworks and wrapping paper. But I can’t help feeling Mazda’s busy period coincides with the sunshine.
However, I’ve a feeling this year things might be about to change. The MX-5 might be the car we all want to drive in the summer (well, the dry ones at least) but now there’s a Mazda that’s more than up to the task of dealing with winter too. It’s more than capable of wading through some light flooding, or what the British weather-men claim to be deep snow. It will seat five in comfort, the boot’s huge, it’s got what your mother calls a ‘proper roof’, and best of all, it’s not bad to drive either.
The car I’m referring to is Mazda’s recently launched CX-5, the first of a new generation of Mazda’s to embrace not only Mazda’s KODO design language but also their SkyActive technology. Let’s deal with KODO first: Subtitled Soul of Motion, fundamentally KODO is a blend of both the sharp origami type panel creases we associate with vehicles from the East, as well as the softer curves usually created by European styling departments. The end result means the CX-5 is a rather handsome SUV that’s, unsurprisingly, in the same vein looks-wise as Kia’s Sportage, Nissan’s Qashqai, Ford’s Kuga and Skoda’s Yeti. Then again, that’s probably where the CX-5’s primary competition comes from too- although let’s not forget BMW’s X3 or the Audi Q3 either.
SkyActive is also a result of many hours spent in the designer office. Mazda’s engineers have utilised lightweight materials, advanced materials, more efficient structures, plus new production processes, to create a lightweight and ultra-stiff chassis that results in outstanding levels of crashworthiness: All CX-5’s get the maximum 5 star euro N-CAP rating. However it’s not at the cost of vehicle dynamics. The CX-5 might be built like fortress – 61% of the body is made up of high tensile steel – but it never feels too heavy or unwieldy in the way certain other SUVs do. In fact, with 173bhp and a 0-62 time of 9.4 seconds, the 2.2 litre diesel Sport Nav, as driven by yours truly, is more than capable of cutting it amongst other traffic. 310lbft of torque means you won’t be troubling the 6 speed gearbox, or the fuel-pump too much either; the combined cycle MPG figure is a claimed 54.3.
Inside, the range-topping CX-5 Sport Nav gets not only what looks like the gearlever and steering wheel from the MX-5 but also a very generous array of standard equipment including leather trim, heated seats, cruise control, all- important Bluetooth, climate control and even (if you add the optional safety pack) lane departure warning system, automatic dipping headlamps, and reversing camera. You’ve probably guessed from the name that there’s a built in Tom-Tom sat-nav too. What you probably weren’t expecting was keyless entry, a 9 speaker Bose Hi-fi with MP3 compatibility, and a hushed ride, even on the standard fit 19 inch alloys.
“The Mazda CX-5 offers an extraordinary amount of car for the price,” Said What Car? Magazine before handing over their Best Green SUV 2012 award to Mazda in September. Earlier in the year the CX-5 took Auto Express’s Best Cross-Over trophy home too. It’s not just me then that thinks with the CX-5, Mazda are on to a winner.
Mazda CX-5 2.2 Sport Nav AWD
Engine: 2191cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed Manual, all wheel drive.
Power: 173bhp @4500pm
Torque: 310 lbft @2000rpm
Max Speed: 127mph
MPG: 53.4 combined