HI FIVE

Mazda makes a good thing even bet­ter, with up­dates to its in-de­mand CX-5.

New Zealand LCV - - TEST DRIVE - Story: Dean Evans

NOT ONE TO REST ON ITS LAU­RELS, Mazda has up­dated its highly suc­cess­ful CX-5, in con­tention for be­ing 2018’s best­selling, non-ren­tal SUV.

Against a tough market that in­cludes 35 in­di­vid­ual SUV name­plates, the CX-5 has a 15 per­cent market share, over Kia’s Sportage, Mitsubishi’s Out­lander and RAV4, Tuc­son and X-trail.

All its im­pres­sive at­tributes carry over into 2018, with a very sim­i­lar spec sheet to the new CX-8, in­clud­ing the up­graded 2.2-litre diesel en­gine that gets re­vi­sions to the in­jec­tion sys­tem and piston shape, and a two-cylin­der cruise mode that’s to­tally im­per­cep­ti­ble… aside from the fuel sav­ing. With a Vari­able Ge­om­e­try Turbo and re­sult­ing im­prove­ments in ex­haust, cool­ing, pump­ing and fric­tion, this all adds up to a claimed five-per­cent sav­ing in fuel, which is now of­fi­cially as low as 5.7l/100km for the diesel. Even the petrol en­gines aren’t far be­hind, at 6.9 and 7.4l/100km for the 2.0 and 2.5-litre en­gines re­spec­tively.

On the road, it’s re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to the CX-8, for ob­vi­ous rea­son: but the 100-200kg lighter kerb weight helps fuel econ­omy and per­for­mance. In a straight line it’s solidly quick, with 0-100km/h in high8s – not the fastest thing out there, but for its econ­omy of­fer­ings, quick enough for an SUV like this. But there’s a fan­tas­tic sound from the en­gine, es­pe­cially up around 40005000rpm, where it turns in to a war­bling Audi five-cylin­der, full of char­ac­ter. And in sit­u­a­tions where the noise of a diesel would be in­tru­sive enough to turn off, such as a Mcdon­ald’s drive-through, the en­gine is quiet, and con­ve­niently de­ac­ti­vates via the istop tech – re­ac­ti­vated by ei­ther re­leas­ing the brake, or tug­ging the wheel.

With a Head-up Dis­play on all mod­els, in­clud­ing the base $39,995 GSX, the in­te­rior is one of the best on the market: com­fort­able, well-equipped, with ev­ery­thing from Blue­tooth, Lane As­sist and Ac­tive Cruise. The touch screen works very well, along with the cen­tral com­mand dial that falls to hand and works in­tu­itively, even fea­tur­ing a pro­gram­mable ‘Favourite’ but­ton.

There’s a fan­tas­tic char­ac­ter­ful sound from the en­gine, like a war­bling Audi five-cylin­der

In fact about the only thing miss­ing from 2018 ex­pec­ta­tions is Ap­ple Carplay/an­droid Auto, with Mazda sug­gest­ing we may see it in­tro­duced to its ve­hi­cles at the end of the year as an up­grade­able ac­ces­sory for ex­ist­ing sys­tems.

Aside from that, the CX-5 is a per­fect ex­am­ple of how to make a great SUV. It’s num­ber one for good rea­son.

Cross-traf­fic alert works well, es­pe­cially when re­vers­ing from an­gle park­ing, and a ve­hi­cle is out of eye sight.

Above: CX-5 in­te­rior very sim­i­lar to CX-8, or is it vice-versa. Ei­ther way, both are bril­liant. Be­low: Head-up Dis­play shows speed and, best of all, the speed limit, through speed sign recog­ni­tion.

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