SKYACTIV gives CX-5 family edge
THE petrol model SUV might not have the expected Mazda zoom-zoom factor, but this family car is worth waiting for. Priced from $27,800*, the compact CX-5 delivers on a promise of low ownership and running costs, style, practicality and affordability.
The petrol engine feels a bit anaesthetised, but there’s an excellent diesel just around the corner.
CX-5 replaces CX-7 but Mazda says the CX-5 channels a lot of the factors that last year made its Mazda3 the best-selling car to private Australian buyers. That includes a bit of style, a bucketload of standard features, the strength of the Mazda name and the keen pricing.
The petrol model was offered for testing as the 2.0-litre petrol version is on sale now. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel at a $3000 premium is due mid-march.
The range kicks off with the front-wheel drive, six-speed manual Maxx model. Standard gear includes a four-speaker, Bluetooth-equipped audio, reverse camera, six airbags, sat-nav and even tyre pressure monitoring. Prices rise in accordance with features and top out around the mid-$40,000 mark with the diesel automatic, leather padded Grand Touring. Best value is the petrol Maxx Sport automatic ($32,300) with the two-wheel drive version being the most practical for city and suburban owners.
The styling is unfortunately a bit predictable as Mazda strives to appease all possible buyer types. It follows the theme of the Mazda3. Everybody loves these, but ask someone to describe one for identification in a carpark and the only answer you’re likely to get is “blue”. The CX-5 is bigger in the flesh than you’d think, thanks to subtly chamfered edges, abrupt and high tail and the wedge-shape of the side glass. The snout-like grille is its only point of difference, but even then it’s a bit like the previous Hyundai Santa Fe or the dog-van in the movie Dumb & Dumber. Inside it’s also a lot of Mazda3.
The biggest news is the CX-5 is the first Mazda to sport all the company’s “new wave” Skyactiv technology. This includes a new approach to design and engineering of the drivetrain, suspension, platform and body. As an example, the 114kw/200nm petrol engine runs an astonishingly high 13:1 compression ratio in its engine most rivals are about 9:1 – to ensure a clean burn of the fuel mix while maximising power output. utput.
If the jargon is hardd to swallow, swallow consider that it’s sufficient to reduce the SUV’S fuel consumption to 6.4 litres/100km from the 2WD CX-7’S figure of 9.4 litres/100km. Put that in dollar terms and it’s a saving of about $650 a year in fuel. It’s helped by a stop-start system that turns off the engine when the car is stationary.
The new wagon’s lightweight, high-strength steel body is 153mm shorter, 32mm narrower and 65mm higher than the CX-7 it replaces, yet though it has a marginal 50mm shorter wheelbase, it boasts a bigger boot and more rear seat legroom. It is also significantly lighter than the CX-7 starting at 1475kg. This is a five-star rated car with six airbags, electronic stability control, brake assist and traction control.
ON THE ROAD
The CX-5’S unusual high-compression 2.0-litre petrol engine is almost identical to the new Mazda3 SP20 version and shares a quirk that it never feels very responsive. Part of that is the long accelerator pedal but most isi the purpose-design “linear” power flow.ow It’s aggravated by engine run-on after the accelerator is relereleased. But apparently that’s ththe plan and is responsible for thet excellent fuel economy.
Of course, forcing the tachometert needle to live in thet 4000-6500rpm band as I didid, shakes off the lethargy and the CX-5 becomes a lot of fun particuparticularly as the chassis is superbly taut and the suspension is just about perfect.perfect Ride comfcomfort is also excellent, tested over smooth bitumen and some rough, high-speed tracks. The all-wheel drive promises more grip, but the front-wheel drive is a more nimble, more fun drive because of the 70kg-odd weight reduction.
Electric steering is also spot on, blending the need for city-parking lightness with open-road cruising without having any notchiness in the transition. * Call Westco Motors Cairns for drive away prices.