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Mazda CX-5 review

How does the Mazda CX-5 shape up in the hotly-contested mid-size SUV sector?

Well, to cut a long story short – very well. And it has to be good because it’s up against everything from the Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga, to the Volvo XC60 and Nissan Qashqai.

Like the Mazda 2, 3 and 6 (and I suspect, the all new CX-3, which is the CX-5’s new baby brother), Mazda has allowed some of the sportiness of the iconic MX-5 to rub off on its more mainstream models.

Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is no exception – here’s a medium-sized family crossover that’s enjoyable to drive, spacious and surprisingly economical.

As with the rest of Mazda’s impressive range, there’s some clear DNA there on the styling front – important in a sector where it’s tougher than ever to stand out.

Inside too, Mazda’s managed to continue the sporty theme, creating a cabin that’s more of a cockpit with a premium car-like feel.

Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, plus 2WD and 4WD.

I drove the top-of-the-range 2.2d AWD Sport Nav which is a basic £29,395, though with options including Mazda’s trademark Soul Red metallic paint, a Safety Pack and light Stone leather seats, the on the road price is £30,955.

That said, the range starts at a very competitive £22,295 for the 2WD 2.0-litre petrol SE-L.

Mazda CX-5

Whichever model you choose, you get a practical car that can easily transport five people in comfort with enough space to carry their luggage with ease too.

From a driver’s point of view, it’s a rewarding car with a comfortable driving position and all the controls falling to hand.

The interior has a quality feel, the 9-speaker BOSE surround sound system is great, while the 7-inch, full-colour infotainment touchscreen in the centre console (incorporating DAB radio and connectivity) is good) though the sat nav is a little fiddly. As with other Mazdas, the command controller and volume control knob in the lower centre console between the seats is a bonus for those of us preferring an option to the touchscreen.

Mazda CX-5

My test car had a lusty 175PS engine with plenty of pulling power and a satisfyingly slick 6-speed gearbox. Like most diesels, the engine’s a little gruff under initial acceleration, but it soon settles down.

On paper it can manage 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds with a top speed of 129mph, and I have no reason to doubt that.

Importantly for a big car, it’s also capable of 54.5mpg, with 40-45mpg more than possible in the real world.

The CX-5 is entertaining to drive, especially on country roads, with precise steering, minimum body lean and plenty of grip, though there is wind noise at higher speeds. It’s safe too, gaining a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.

Mazda CX-5

There’s good space inside for five with decent head and legroom, plus a large 503-litre boot (expanding to an generous 1620 litres with the back seats folded down) and plenty of small storage spaces.

Unless you live out in the sticks or you tow a caravan, there’s probably no need for the AWD version or the larger diesel engine. The less powerful diesel and petrol options are also punchy and economical – and cheaper.

Summary. It’s hard to fault the Mazda CX-5. Distinctive, frugal, well-equipped, fun to drive and spacious, it’s everything an SUV should be.

Review: @GarethHerincx

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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