Herald Sun - Motoring - - Head to Head -

The CX-5 range starts at about $30,000 but this is the cheap­est diesel vari­ant. We quickly es­tab­lished which one we’d choose if faced with a value-for-money dilemma. Stan­dard fare in­cludes sat­nav, elec­tric park brake (the CX-3’s is man­ual) and cloth seats. Ser­vic­ing over three years is cheaper than the Akari — $1602. The 2.2-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel is a pow­er­house (129kW/420Nm, more torque than many hot hatches) and is sur­pris­ingly smooth, quiet and re­fined. There’s seam­less power de­liv­ery in stop-start or open-road driv­ing. Av­er­age con­sump­tion ac­cord­ing to the la­bel is only a frac­tion more than the baby CX-3 (5.7L/100km). Mazda gave the CX-5 a mi­nor freshen-up at the start of the year, in­clud­ing a new grille, head­lights and tail-lights. In­te­rior trim also got a cleaner look. The cabin is roomy com­pared to its ri­vals and much roomier than its sib­ling. The cargo space, even if slightly smaller than its peers, is still cav­ernous (403L seats up, 1560L seats down). Six airbags and rear-view cam­era are stan­dard on the CX-5, which also earns a five-star safety rat­ing. At this price it lacks some of the safety items on the top-line CX-3 but you can op­tion most of the same ex­tras for $1230. The CX-5 diesel feels se­cure on the road and the steer­ing is beau­ti­fully weighted and pre­cise. The 2.2-litre has more grunt than you’re ever likely to need. Iron­i­cally, given that this CX-5 is a base model, it feels like a luxury car af­ter driv­ing the top-line CX-3.

VER­DICT At th­ese prices — a gap of about $1300 — the CX-5 is a clear win­ner. It’s a well-rounded ve­hi­cle, is sweeter to drive and al­most as fuel ef­fi­cient as its smaller sib­ling.

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