1800rpm is strong and steady to the 5200rpm redline.
The CX-5 is almost perfect in any traffic situation, from stop-start urban crawl, up a hilly incline or on the open road.
It’s a quiet engine with minimal road noise and just wind rush from the big mirrors upsetting the ambience, particularly when punching into a headwind.
The stop-start function unobtrusively cuts the engine at idle to save fuel and cut emissions. My average was 8 litres/100km over a wide range of driving and a spirited run from Mareeba to Mt Carbine. Mazda suggests 5.7 litres/100km.
The best part of the driving experience is the chassis dynamics.
The electric rack-and-pinion steering system is light yet sharp, providing ease and feedback in good measures.
The Mazda handles corners keenly, like a wellcontrolled hatchback, with a flat and sorted posture, to keep the chosen line.
The poise of this SUV is quite unbelievable. It’s certainly not as rolly-polly as others.
It really can be punted along quite quickly and there’s a controlled and comfortable ride as well. Inside is a bit disappointing. There’s too much black, from the carpets, to the seats and the dashboard.
There’s not much to break up the sombre interior and the dash is a bit of a slab too.
A lot of the switchgear and buttons are too low in the centre stack.
A good driving position is easy to find due to the reach and height-adjustable column and driver’s seat, while the sporty three-spoke steering wheel covered in leather is a beauty.
The Mazda has the traditional three-barrel instrument canister design for the analogue speedometer and tachometer, with the third for the digitised fuel gauge, trip computer and outside temperature displays.
They look classy back-lit in white but the centre console clashes with its red lighting.
There’s plenty of room front and rear and a 403-litre cargo area with a retractable parcel shelf that is connected to the tailgate.
The CX-5 was a delight to drive across the Tableland and is an accomplished open road tourer.
It was a bit of a downhill sprinter tackling the Rex Range between Julatten and Mossman.
In diesel guise, the CX-5 GT sits at the top of its class, not just in terms of value, but also dynamics, engine efficiency, diesel driveability, transmission, steering feel, manoeuvrability and packaging.
Mazda has the freshest SUV but the upright “toothy grin” at the front and the dark interior are not the most appealing.
Mums will love its practicality, ease of parking, the elevated driving position, its economy and stacks of gear.
Dad will savour its performance and handling, even if it doesn’t look as sporty as the CX-7.
The diesel is the pick of the range, despite it being more expensive.
Mazda has delivered an accomplished and classleading compact SUV which will appeal to a wide cross-section of buyers.
>> TEST CAR COURTESY OF WESTCO MAZDA, MULGRAVE RD, WESTCOURT.