2018 Mazda CX-5 Diesel

Edmonton Sun - Autonet - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Fletcher

MU­NICH – Of the com­pact crossovers on the mar­ket, the Mazda CX-5 has to rank as one of the more at­trac­tive. It has a bolder style and more sporti­ness in its makeup than many of its peers. This com­bi­na­tion has served it well thus far, how­ever, it is about to get even more at­trac­tive with the ad­di­tion of a diesel engine early next year.

As it stands, the CX-5 is of­fered two ways. The base 2.0-L four-cylin­der has 155 horse­power and 150 pound-feet of torque. For those in­ter­ested in econ­omy more than driv­ing plea­sure, it’s the right choice. The sec­ond op­tion is the 2.5-L four cylin­der. It ups the num­bers to 187 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to in­stil some real zeal into the drive. Then there’s the new diesel. It prom­ises the best of both worlds, and so it could end up be­ing the top seller.

The 2.2-L, four-cylin­der Sky­ac­tiv-D tur­bod­iesel engine pumps out 150 hp and, more im­por­tantly, 280 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. It has plenty of pop off the line and a strong mid-range. It is also suit­ably muted. Yes, it sounds diesel-like at idle, but once driv­ing it is quiet and smooth. Most will not pick up on the fact it con­sumes diesel and not gaso- line

hen it comes to Canada early next year, it will have a urea-based af­ter-treat­ment sys­tem. The ac­cess point to top it up is be­hind the fuel flap and right be­side the fuel neck, so it is eas­ily re­plen­ished. In fact, the fuel cap is the only place the CX-5 is la­belled as a diesel.

The rea­son for the diesel’s pop­u­lar­ity is the fact it has the per­for­mance of the top-line gas engine yet re­turns better econ­omy than the base engine. On the drive, which in­cluded de­light­fully twisty ru­ral roads and a lengthy stint on the au­to­bahn av­er­ag­ing 160 km/h, the diesel re­turned an av­er­age of 7.1 L/100 kilo­me­tres. That is im­pres­sive by any stan­dard. How­ever, slow­ing the au­to­bahn speeds to those of the high­ways in Canada saw the con­sump­tion rate plum­met to 5.4 L/100 km. Not one of the cur­rent crop of com­pact crossovers comes close to that sort of fuel econ­omy. Such is the diesel ad­van­tage.

In Europe, the diesel engine ar­rives with an au­to­matic start/stop sys­tem. It proved to be overly keen to shut things down to con­serve fuel and on the brief stop-and-go por­tion of the drive it be­came an­noy­ing be­cause of the fre­quency. It also de­faulted to the on po­si­tion when­ever the ig­ni­tion was cy­cled, which means it had to be switched off ev­ery time. This fea­ture likely won’t be of­fered on Cana­dian mod­els.

The CX-5 tester put its power to the road through a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and all four wheels. The trans­mis­sion was well sorted, with fast shifts and a speedy kick-.down when needed. In the case of the diesel, the broad torque plateau meant the box shifted less fre­quently than is re­quired for ei­ther gas engine, which is a good thing. Even in sixth and with the tachome­ter hov­er­ing round 1,600 rpm, it re­sisted the urge to down­shift, yet picked up speed quickly. The nit to pick, given the overt sporti­ness found else­where, was the lack of pad­dle shifters. On the twisty ru­ral road por­tion of the drive, it would have been nice to take ad­van­tage of the engine brak­ing that comes with a forced down­shift.

The all-wheel-drive sys­tem was dis­tin­guished by its abil­ity to put the power down with­out be­ing in­tru­sive. It sim­ply did its thing in an in­vis­i­ble man­ner, which on the wet slip­pery roads en­coun­tered on the drive was ex­actly what was needed.

Where the CX-5’s sport­ing pedi­gree sur­faces is in the man­ner in which it rides and han­dles. The sus­pen­sion was firm enough to keep body roll at a min­i­mum with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the qual­ity of the ride. Through the curves on the ru­ral drive, it held the de­sired line in much the same man­ner as a honed sports car. Like­wise, the steer­ing has above-av­er­age feel and feed­back. The P225/65R17 tires build on the CX-5’s ag­ile ba­sics by adding a sharper feel and an even more di­rect re­sponse to driver in­put. Mazda’s G-Vec­tor­ing Con­trol then sharp­ened things fur­ther; when the steer­ing wheel is turned, it backs out of the gas slightly, in­creas­ing the down­force on the front tires. This sim­ple ac­tion improves the re­sponse and helps to tame un­der­steer.

As is true of the ex­te­rior styling, the cabin fol­lows the sporty theme. It has sup­port­ive seats, a good driv­ing po­si­tion and a set of con­trols that all fall read­ily to hand, in­clud­ing the cen­tral con­troller for the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. It is eas­ily de­ci­phered and quick to re­act to in­put.

The diesel also came loaded with the latest safety tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing lane-de­par­ture warn­ing with lane-keep as­sist. I am not a fan of the lat­ter, as it proved to be too in­tru­sive. Fi­nally, in spite of its sportier pre­ten­sions, the CX-5 still has the re­quired ver­sa­til­ity. With the seats up­right there is 875 L of cargo space, and 1,687 L with them folded flat.

There are few SUVs or crossovers with as much sporti­ness in their makeup as the Mazda CX-5. The ad­di­tion of diesel power adds a new ex­ten­sion. It main­tains the spirit of the drive, but with an av­er­age fuel econ­omy that’s cur­rently un­matched in the af­ford­able seg­ment.

2018 Mazda CX-5 diesel.

Graeme Fletcher/ Driv­ing

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