SKYAC­TIV gives CX-5 fam­ily edge

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

VALUE

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

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