Body and the beat

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER

AUS­TRALIA’S favourite SUV, the Mazda CX-5, is re­new­ing its show­room cre­den­tials with a new body and re­fine­ment to match its big CX-9 sta­ble­mate.

Sales of the CX-5 have topped 20,000 here this year and Mazda be­lieves it will reach a new high of more than 25,000 by De­cem­ber 31, while fac­ing numer­ous chal­lengers from Europe, Japan and South Korea

Mazda’s over­haul of its main­stream SUV recog­nises the threat from the Toy­ota RAV4, the new Volkswagen Tiguan and the im­pres­sive Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

“We al­ways try to look at it from a customer point of view,” says Mazda Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Alas­tair Doak.

“The chal­lenge for us is to en­sure cur­rent own­ers of a CX-5 want a sec­ond, or even a third, one. And we need to at­tract more peo­ple to the CX-5.”

Pre­viewed at the Los An­ge­les Auto Show, the fi­nal ma­jor mo­tor­ing event of the year, the CX-5 will reach Aus­tralia in May.

There are no details on price or equip­ment. The com­ing CX-5 is much the same size as the cur­rent model, with a wider foot­print and the wind­screen pil­lar set fur­ther back for a swoop­ier glasshouse.

The em­pha­sis is on class and tech­nol­ogy. The CX-9 has one of the most re­fined and re­lax­ing SUV cab­ins on the road and Mazda aims to fol­low suit with its con­densed con­tender.

Pro­gram man­ager Masaya Ko­dama puts it po­et­i­cally: “The joy and plea­sure that grow as car and driver com­mu­ni­cate and re­spond to each other should not sac­ri­fice the com­fort of fam­ily or friends also rid­ing in the car.”

The new CX-5 will have three en­gine op­tions — 2.0 and 2.5-litre Sky­ac­tiv petrol and 2.2litre diesel — as well as front or all-wheel drive, plus six-speed manual and auto gear­boxes. Mazda’s sub­tle G-vec­tor­ing tech will en­hance cor­ner­ing.

The cabin will have Bose au­dio and a big­ger dis­play with up­graded con­nec­tiv­ity.

There will be ac­tive cruise con­trol that can fol­low the car in front from stand­still, as well as traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion — al­ready work­ing well in the Mazda3 — and im­proved head and pedes­trian pro­tec­tion.

Mazda claims wind and road noise is much re­duced — at 100km/h, it says, the clar­ity of con­ver­sa­tion is im­proved by about 10 per cent. The de­vel­op­ment slo­gan was “An SUV all cus­tomers will en­joy”.

Doak says: “The cur­rent model has been an ab­so­lute su­per­star and our chal­lenge is to grow (from) 18 or 20 per cent mar­ket share in that seg­ment.”

How­ever, Mazda recog­nises the grow­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness of the SUV scene in Aus­tralia. “The CX-5 has been No. 1 out­right SUV in Aus­tralia for the past three years,” Doak says, “and it’s never been price-pointed in re­tail (code for dis­count­ing).”

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