TAKE DRIV­ING TO THE MAXX

MAZDA SUV COMES OUT ON TOP IN TOUGH MAR­KET

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

MAZDA'S CX-5 is the top-sell­ing SUV on Aus­tralian roads, but one won­ders how much time buy­ers spend in show­rooms be­fore they part with their cash.

They'd prob­a­bly de­cided they were go­ing to get a CX-5, but there are many to choose from, with prices start­ing from $27,190 to al­most dou­ble that at $50,610.

There are 2.0litre mod­els, more pow­er­ful 2.5litres, man­ual trans­mis­sion or 'Sky­ac­tiv' au­to­matic, 2WD or AWD, petrol or diesel and, would you be­lieve, 18 model grades.

Oddly, the base model is called the Maxx, rather than the Min, but that's mar­ket­ing.

Our test­mo­bile was the CX-5 GT 2.5-litre petrol AWD, a $43,390 sweetie with more charm and style than a fi­nal­ist in a Miss World con­test.

The at­trac­tively-styled SUV has lots of new tech­nol­ogy in just about every area.

Our test CX-5 GT fea­tured Mazda's MZD Con­nect, an ad­vanced con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem con­trolled by a con­sole knob called a 'mul­ti­func­tion com­mand con­troller' that pro­vides ac­cess to the in­ter­net, all the so­cial me­dia stuff, Blue­tooth hands-free phone op­er­a­tion, Stitcher and Pan­dora, and the sound comes out of the 231W Bose au­dio sys­tem's nine speak­ers. Well, that should keep the nerds happy.

Of greater im­por­tance in our book is that it comes with a very good wide an­gle re­vers­ing cam­era.

Drive-wise, the 2.5-litre four­cylin­der di­rect in­jec­tion en­gine pro­vides 138kw/250nm, which is more than ad­e­quate, and it has a fuel sav­ing stop/start sys­tem to cope with Perth's wait-a-very-long-while traf­fic lights.

Per­for­mance is smooth and pretty brisk, es­pe­cially so if the 'sport' but­ton is pressed and fuel econ­omy is an im­pres­sive av­er­age of 7.4litres/100km.

The stylish five-seater has com­pact lines but good leather fin­ished ac­com­mo­da­tion and a quite gen­er­ous cargo area, and the sus­pen­sion has been tweaked for bet­ter com­fort and grip.

Also, stronger steel, a firmer frame and added in­su­la­tion give it a quiet cabin.

The front seats have power ad­just­ment and the one for the driver adds lum­bar sup­port and heat­ing, and the dash is wellde­signed with in­stru­ments and con­trols just where a driver would ex­pect to find them.

While most Maz­das have proper hand­brakes, the CX-5 has opted for an elec­tronic one. Well, the Amer­i­cans like them. The car has LED lights front and rear, and runs on a set of su­perb ma­chine-faced 19-inch al­loys.

Safety fea­tures in­clude all the airbags and elec­tronic driver aids du jour and the high-spec GT'S adap­tive head­lights au­to­mat­i­cally dip in traf­fic. It also has a five-star safety rat­ing.

The CX-5 runs beau­ti­fully, has good vis­i­bil­ity, carves through cor­ners with con­fi­dence and is an all-round very de­cent bit of kit.

Ver­dict: The CX-5 is in a tough mar­ket sec­tor. To come out on top says a lot.

There are good rea­sons Mazda's CX-5 is a sales top­per.

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