MAZDA CX-5 MAXX SPORT DIESEL
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.