Mazda CX-5 2.5 Luxury: The Crossover Appeal

When we first got to bring out the Mazda CX-5, one of our mutual friend commented that it wasn’t of an impressive size for an SUV. After all, the CX-5 looked tiny compared to the X5 he was driving.

But if you look back onto the history and progress of the CX-5, you’d realise that this is no ordinary full-fledged SUV, but rather, a result of a Japanese crossover between a hatch and perhaps a bigger SUV.

Truth be told, the Mazda CX-5 didn’t look much different from its predecessor (all facelifts look boring, don’t they), but its drive and comfort level after our test drive left us wondering why people looking for your family SUV would actually put off buying a CX-5.

Exterior

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Compared to its predecessor, the facelifted CX-5 now boasts Mazda’s signature daytime running lights across its bi-xenon assembly, adding on a touch of Mazda’s aggressiveness, and extremely befitting of their slogan – Zoom Zoom.

This is also not forgetting that with a new headlamp unit, comes a new tail lamp assembly. The rear of the CX-5 now sees brighter tail lamps using LED technology, compared to the halogen bulbs used on the older family SUV.

But unfortunately, wanting the sleek DRLs would also mean that you’d have to opt for the 2.0 litre Premium version (a hefty 8 grand more above the 2.0 litre Standard variant). Sure, you get a whole lot of features more which we will touch on a little later.

The new(er) CX-5 now also features horizontal grille slats compared to the previous honeycomb design, which we thought looked more appealing to the eye.

Interior

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Compared to the older CX-5, the new SUV’s cabin now feels a little more sportier and luxurious. Gone are yesteryear technology such as its parking brake, now replaced with an electric parking brake operated with the blip of a button on your center console.

Up front, the Mazda’s instrument cluster feels a little more premium with a combination of plastic and carefully stitched leather, something we thought could possibly be on par with Lexus’ dash. The seats make sure you’re comfortably wrapped in this 1.7 metre tall SUV, even though you won’t feel its size from the driver’s position.

So if you opt and top up for the Premium variant, you enjoy features such as electric seats with memory, front and rear parking sensors, Bose sound system, as well as a keyless engine start/stop button. Plonk in another 6 to 7 grand and you get to enjoy the 2.5 litre Luxury variant.

One of the features that really amazed and impressed us is the Mazda’s new infotainment system. Its rotary Human-Machine Interface controller acts exactly like the BMW’s iDrive (which we felt was one of the best infotainment system in the motoring world) – it allows you to navigate around the system with extreme ease, not needing to take your eyes off the road to find your Bluetooth telephony function or your auxiliary media player menu.

The HMI controller features three basic buttons – the three you’d use most frequently, music, home, and navigation. Reaching out for them is as easy as reaching for your gear stick, and it didn’t take long before we got the hang of which button was the navigation function. In fact, we dare say it’s easier to remember compared to BMW’s 7 button iDrive controller!

The satellite navigation on the CX-5 was evidently easier to use that some other Japanese brands’ too. It requires you a little bit more effort to key in your desired town before narrowing down its results, but once you get past that stage, finding your way around is a breeze.

At the rear, the CX-5 sits three adults comfortably, although it being an SUV means the centre passenger may not feel the most comfortable due to its sensitive damping. But the car proved perfect for the young family with a baby, it could still sit three average-sized adults even with a child seat fixed into the rear.

Out at the boot, Mazda’s spare tyre jutted out like a sore thumb, in fact, we thought it would be much better if the spare could sit a little lower to allow for a deeper boot aperture and storage space. Nevertheless, you enjoy 403 litres of boot space, expandable to 1,560 litres if you fold the rear seats into a 40:20:40 configuration. Probably more than sufficient for your two mountain bikes or even up to 4 golf bags or luggages!

The Drive

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Truth be told, it’s been a long while since we drove a Japanese SUV that felt so smooth and handled so well. The CX-5 gave you precise control over the car, and when you marry the pin-sharp steering together with its seamless 6-speed transmission, what you get would be a ride that glides you across the roads with great ease.

It being an SUV, you shouldn’t fault it for its firmer suspension, even though we dare say the CX-5 cushions your occasional bumps on the roads pretty well. Under the hood, the inline 4 heart of the CX-5 puts out 192 horses and 256 Nm of torque. It may not be a turbocharged engine like its continental cousins, but the CX-5 was surprisingly zippy when it comes to overtaking.

Impressively, the CX-5’s steering was pin sharp, and didn’t feel too light for our comfort. There’s a reasonable amount of weight added to the steering feel that reassures you when you take that corner at 70 km/h, or have to make that unfortunate emergency lane change.

Conclusion

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Design, practicality, technology – you name it, the CX-5 has it.

Despite it still being mated to the traditional 6-speed automatic transmission box, the CX-5 portrays itself as one of the more practical and appealing SUVs in the Japanese/Korean market. Its level of appeal is something that honestly, is quite hard to miss out, and for that, we dare say this is one of the better options the young and trendy family man should seriously consider.

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