The last-generation CX-5 seems to have had a tough time in the letters page recently, so perhaps thereís no better time to be welcoming its replacement to the long-term fleet. Despite some ownersí concerns about the reliability of the diesel engine and the quality of Mazdaís dealer network, I have always liked the old CX-5. I loved the way it drove, the slightly upmarket cabin and the beautiful Soul Red paint option.
As a result, Iíd been looking forward to the arrival of this new model for some time, and when I got my first chance to drive it earlier this year, I was pleased to note that it had come through its remodelling without damaging any of its qualities. Unsurprisingly, our new CX-5 was welcomed with open arms. Our car ñ a top-of-the-range Sport Nav model ñ has the most powerful version of the 2.2-litre diesel engine, which sends its 173bhp might to all four wheels via a slick six-speed manual gearbox. Teamed with the £800 Soul red crystal metallic paint, I must admit that itís a slightly indulgent specification, but there are good reasons for it.
Firstly, I wanted wipe-down leather seats and a reversing camera, and I was adamant that it should be four-wheel drive. I know most CX-5 owners will never do anything more taxing than traversing a crunchy gravel driveway, but Iíve got some plans to find out just how capable this car is. Given the choice then, Iíd have gone for a ëbasicí SE-L Nav model with leather and the head-up display as optional extras. Then Iíd have chosen the engine in 148bhp guise with the optional four-wheel drive. Sadly, the Mazda range humbugged me. It turns out that you canít have the leather or the reversing camera as optional extras, and instead you have to shell out £3,000 on the only other trim level available ñ Sport Nav. Then, with that, you can only have the 148bhp engine with front-wheel drive. If you want all-paw traction, youíre forced to spend an extra £700 on the 173bhp engine, bringing the total to £31,395, and thatís before you peep at the colour chart.
You do get a lot for your money, what with the heated steering wheel, upgraded audio system, electrically adjustable heated seats, keyless entry and powered tailgate, but is it all worth it? I wonít really know the answer to that particular question until my time with the car comes to an end, but first impressions are good. The Soul Red paint is a pricey box to tick, but it really does stand out in that colour, and itís only £240 more expensive than the less striking metallic options. Inside, meanwhile, the leather seats have already come in handy after a trip to the garden centre and an encounter with some muddy boots. Iím very happy with the uprated Bose hi-fi too, which I will doubtless explore in more detail soon.
Iíve also been pleased to note that the handling is every bit as sharp as I remember, blowing rivals like the Nissan Qashqai out of the water. The engine is proving to be more refined than in the old model ñ particularly once itís up to temperature. There have been some small faults though. The gear knob seems to twist slightly when I change from second to third in a hurry, leaving the writing on top off centre. Itís hardly the problem of the century, but does it hint at less-than-perfect build quality? Itís certainly not what you expect from a brand that once sat alongside Jaguar and Volvo in Fordís luxury car division.
My other gripe is with the ride, which doesnít seem to be quite as supple as I recall from my experiences earlier this year. Admittedly though, this may be down to the shocking state of the roads in my area, which will remain nameless to preserve the dignity of those responsible for its highways and byways.
As I write, however, the CX-5 is about to undertake the 180-mile cruise from my home in Cheshire (oops, that slipped out) to London, which should give it an opportunity to demonstrate its environmental credentials. Mazda claims itíll do 52.3mpg, but so far Iíve only managed around 49mpg from a long run. Iím just hoping that a few more miles and a clear run will bring me up and over the 50mpg mark.
Date arrived 13th September 2017
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 44.8/57.6/52.3mpg
The Soul Red paint is gorgeous. I keep finding myself moving to the window just to look at it.
The gear knob twists slightly when you change gear, leaving it irritatingly off-centre.