A stun­ning re­turn

Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Shakedown - Words by Dinzo Tabamo Photography by Lai De Guz­man

The first CX-5 ush­ered in Mazda’s mod­ern re­vival. The new model is even more am­bi­tious

About five years ago, Mazda’s own­er­ship changed hands from Ford Philip­pines to cur­rent dis­trib­u­tor Ber­maz Auto Philip­pines. The CX-5, first of its name, was the tran­si­tion model from Ford to BAP.

More than its sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance, Mazda’s com­pact cross­over was the first model to carry the Kodo de­sign lan­guage. And equally im­por­tant, it’s the first full model with Skyac­tiv tech­nol­ogy.

And now we have the all-new CX-5, which means Mazda’s lineup is about to be­gin its new cy­cle, with this Soul Red Crys­tal cross­over at the van­guard.

It’s hard to de­scribe how lovely this car color is. Soul Red has been Mazda’s sig­na­ture paint job for sev­eral years now, and you can see this high­lighted in its well-ex­e­cuted mo­tor show dis­plays. This time, it looks deeper, red­der, and more lus­trous. I thought only pre­mium Euro brands could af­ford to cre­ate this kind of au­to­mo­tive sheen. The fin­ish is so deep trees and skies are re­flected on it as you drive.

An im­pres­sive coat of paint com­ple­ments the CX-5’s beau­ti­ful new body. There was noth­ing ugly about the first CX-5, but the all-new model boldly forges its own look.

LED head­lights are housed in slits on ei­ther side of a mas­sive hon­ey­comb grille. Per­haps in an un­in­ten­tional nod to its for­mer own­ers, the hood re­minds me of the cur­rent Ford Mus­tang.

Seen from the side, there is a gap be­tween the chrome grille frame and the hood edge. It makes it ap­pear like the CX-5’s brow is fur­rowed, look­ing you in the eye when you stare too long— be­cause your eyes will re­ally linger.

Look long enough and you might think it grew big­ger, but the num­bers will show that while it is longer, taller and wider, the in­crease in di­men­sions is not even an inch in all ar­eas. This is ba­si­cally the same foot­print.

In the cabin, I’ll start off by get­ting my dis­ap­point­ment out of the way: The MZD Con­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem looks the same. It was lovely and cut­ting edge when we first saw it years ago, but I ex­pected a new ver­sion by now. Mazda says there’s a new OS and more mem­ory, but the graph­ics look out­dated com­pared to its peers. Al­though if this

is your first mod­ern Mazda, it’s highly pos­si­ble you won’t mind.

That be­ing said, the in­te­rior is still one of the best in the busi­ness. In this AWD Sport vari­ant, lush dark leather with con­trast­ing stitch­ing abound. The plas­tics are also top-notch. Be­fit­ting its driver-cen­tric fo­cus, ev­ery­thing is within easy reach. From the steer­ing wheel but­tons to the iDrive-ish con­trol knob be­hind the shift knob, mas­ter­ing the CX5’s func­tions will only take a day or two. Af­ter that you can rely on in­tu­ition.

Like its pre­de­ces­sor, you get to en­joy a 10-speaker Bose au­dio sys­tem. We know this might sound su­per­fi­cial, but see­ing that brand’s logo on the speak­ers in the doors and A-pil­lar gives the CX-5 a pre­mium vibe. And to be fair, it re­ally does sound good.

Where this cross­over re­ally ex­cels is its driver aids. The first-gen CX-5 was one of the first to im­ple­ment lane de­tec­tion, and now the new model adds blind-spot warn­ing and a heads-up dis­play. Yes these aren’t new—at all. But what’s amaz­ing is how well-ex­e­cuted they are.

I don’t know how Mazda did it, but ve­hi­cle speed is pro­jected ahead so cleanly it looks like it floats mag­i­cally. And the blind-spot warn­ing beeps gen­tly when a ve­hi­cle ap­proaches from ei­ther side, ac­com­pa­nied by a glow­ing icon on the side mir­rors.

An­other notable im­prove­ment is space. This feels roomier than the first­gen CX-5, al­though I must say that part of that gen­er­a­tion’s ap­peal was its snug, driver-ori­ented cock­pit. Still, fam­i­lies and rear oc­cu­pants will ap­pre­ci­ate the space the back­seat has to of­fer.

Speak­ing of space, I had the op­por­tu­nity to test the cargo ca­pac­ity when I loaded a home air-con­di­tioner—a 1.5hp unit, mind you—with its box and all in the back. All that needed to be done was re­move the rear cover, and the A/C unit slid right in. To me, that was solid proof of the CX-5’s util­ity value. Sadly, only the top-spec AWD Sport Diesel has the power lift­gate fea­ture.

On the driv­e­train side, G-Vec­tor­ing Con­trol ar­rives in the CX-5. Us­ing its com­puter, the cross­over con­trols the torque it sends to the wheels so that sta­bil­ity and trac­tion is main­tained on the road. Neat stuff.

On the street, this Mazda lives up to its jinba it­tai (horse and rider) com­pany DNA. The body is rock solid thanks to bet­ter ma­te­ri­als used in its con­struc­tion, the NVH is su­perb, and the cabin in­su­lates you from the un­pleas­ant­ness of the out­side world.

The body does feel heav­ier though, and the specs con­firm there has been weight gain—about 50 - 70kg. I feel a slight de­lay off the line; the 187hp and

251Nm from the 2.5-liter in-line four paus­ing just a bit as it gath­ers power.

Once I get go­ing, I flick the driv­ing mode into Sport and ev­ery­thing be­comes more re­spon­sive, so I leave it there. There’s very lit­tle body roll, and the brakes are easy to mod­u­late. My fuel econ­omy doesn’t suf­fer so much; I man­age to av­er­age al­most 8km/L in ur­ban driv­ing.

The all-new Mazda CX-5 im­proves on its pre­de­ces­sor in nearly ev­ery way, al­though it now comes with a higher price tag. Are the im­prove­ments worth the ex­tra cost? If you keep star­ing at it on the street in ad­mi­ra­tion, then you al­ready know the an­swer.

You can see how deep the Soul Red paint job is

You’ll marvel at the fine de­tails in the CX-5 cabin

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