Mid sighs Mazda

The CX-5 rides well and the big­ger petrol en­gine is im­pres­sive. On pa­per

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE ED­I­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

CON­TRARY to a pop­u­lar maxim, size mat­ters. Es­pe­cially if you’re Ja­panese.

Hav­ing deemed the petrol en­gine of their wildly pop­u­lar CX-5 in­ca­pable of pro­vid­ing sat­is­fac­tion, Mazda got a big­ger one.

In Europe, they’d blow a small en­gine by means of a tur­bocharger but Ja­panese car

mak­ers are averse to forc­ing in­duc­tion on all but their go-fast cars.

So, a year af­ter its in­tro­duc­tion, the CX-5 gets a heftier donk, one to bridge the gap be­tween the still en­try level 2.0-litre petrol model and the for­mi­da­ble but more ex­pen­sive diesels.

The new unit won’t win you any brag­ging con­tests but it adds fur­ther sub­stance to an up­stand­ing range.

VALUE

There have been wars less keenly con­tested than the com­pact SUV mar­ket. To feed your seemly in­sa­tiable ap­petite for hatch­backs with an el­e­vated driv­ing po­si­tion, the choice has dou­bled in the past decade.

Cars for­merly syn­ony­mous with the seg­ment such as Honda’s CR-V and Toy­ota’s RAV4 fight to be com­pet­i­tive. Much of the CX-5’s per­ceived value flows from the vast success of the na­tion’s No.1 car, the small Mazda3, a phe­nom­e­non that it does not come near equalling else­where.

The smaller petrol en­gine re­mains on en­try and sec­ondtier vari­ants, the new one coming in on the CX-5 Maxx 2.5L start­ing at $32,880. The new petrol range-top­ping Ak­era is $45,770.

Stan­dard kit lev­els rise in­cre­men­tally through the all- wheel-drive Maxx Sport and Grand Tour­ing to the Ak­era which cops blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, high beam con­trol, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and leather up­hol­stery.

En­hanc­ing the sense that this is a pre­ma­ture midlife up­grade to fight off the RAV4, Blue­tooth across all models has been up­graded and now features re­play, shuf­fle and folder switch­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The mail func­tion en­ables SMS, MMSand email to show up on the quite small touch­screen mon­i­tor with mes­sages read out via Blue­tooth-con­nected smart­phones. The ad­dress book holds up to 1000 con­tacts that can be called by voice com­mand.

Some new colours too. Well, one ac­tual colour— a dif­fer­ent shade of red. The oth­ers are black and grey.

TECH­NOL­OGY

What’s the real dif­fer­ence be­tween Ja­panese and Ger­man cars? All right, the former tend to be more re­li­able. The lat­ter tend to be more de­sir­able.

The sub­stan­tive dif­fer­ence is tur­bocharg­ing. All mod­ern diesels are tur­bocharged but as to petrol cars— those the great ma­jor­ity of us drive— the Ger­mans tur­bocharge ev­ery­thing, ex­tract­ing amaz­ing ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance from small en­gines.

Last year, for the first time, the ma­jor­ity of cars on sale came with some form of forced in­duc­tion.

Some Volk­swa­gens use turbo as well as su­per­charg­ing.

But not Mazda. The 2.5 four­cylin­der en­gine shared with the Mazda6 is for now the most po­tent of the so-called Skyactiv petrol range.

Though not nearly so im­pres­sive as the 2.2-litre turbo diesel with its moun­tain of torque, the free-breath­ing petrol en­gine puts out an ef­fi­cient 138kW/250Nm.

De­spite best-in-class fuel econ­omy, this out­put, as we’ll see, seems more im­pres­sive than it is. It can, how­ever, run on ba­sic un­leaded.

DE­SIGN

So flow­ery is the lan­guage to which Mazda re­sorts in de­scrib­ing its wares, you of­ten won­der if you haven’t stum­bled into a haiku con­test

Bask­ing in sib­ling’s glory: Much of the CX-5’s per­ceived value flows from the na­tion’s No.1 car, the Mazda3

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