Body and the beat
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).”