Last month I may have made a mistake. This error was not something I said, or the misreporting of some poignant fact, but rather something I failed to mention when welcoming the Mazda CX-5 to our fleet. While I dutifully reported that the Soul Red Crystal metallic paint adorning our car was ìgorgeousî, I failed to mention that it can also be a pain in the backside. For the latest CX-5, Mazda has changed the shade slightly, making the colour deeper and more reflective. This makes the colour look far better under lights in a showroom, but it does cause problems in terms of maintenance, mainly because the paintwork has five layers to it ñ a base colour, three tinted layers and a clear overcoat.
Now Iím the first to admit that touch-up paint is a bit naff. Very few of us are any good at applying it, so you just end up with vaguely body-coloured spots all over the bonnet. However, it is usually far cheaper than some scratch removal cowboy and much faster. And as an alternative to rust, Iíll take the splodges any day. So, when I discovered that the CX-5 had some small stone chips on the bonnet, I hurried down to my local dealer. They didnít have any touch-up paint, and apparently the product doesnít exist. Fortunately, my stone chips havenít gone through the primer layer, so Iím safe from the dreaded metal moth for now.
Iím safe from the cold snap, too, thanks to the plethora of heated items offered by our range-topping CX-5. Thereís nothing worse than getting out of the cold and wet, only to find that your car is freezing cold. Itís partly why I despise bare-metal gear knobs, but thereís no such problem in the Mazda. It seems everything you touch in there is either heated or covered in some soft, insulated material that just doesnít get cold. Iím a massive fan of the heated seats, which arenít particularly noticeable on their lowest settings, but when you ramp them up you can almost smell the burning denim. And if the heated seats are good, the heated steering wheel is a dream.
And the chairs arenít the only electrical gizmos Iím enjoying. The head-up display, or HUD in fighter pilot vernacular, is probably my new favourite thing. Itís not distracting or obstructive, but it places all the important readouts right there in the corner of your eye. After just a month with the car, Iíve barely looked at the analogue instruments. There are catches, of course. If you wear polarised sunglasses itís difficult to make out, and changing to a car without it becomes a chore. I know, too, that on most cars itís a costly option that even I might baulk at shelling out for, but this top-specification Mazda is about £3,000 more than the basic model and brings the HUD as standard. Add in all its other goodies, such as leather seats, an uprated Bose audio system, electric sunroof, reversing camera, the aforementioned heated steering wheel and the powered tailgate, and it starts to look like astonishing value for money.
Date arrived 13th September 2017
Fuel economy 52.3mpg (combined) 46.2mpg (on test)
The heated seats and steering wheel are becoming a godsend as winter begins to bite.
As much as I love the Soul Red paintwork, a lack of touch-up paint means fixing stone chips like these is an unnecessarily complicated task.