The George Clooney of SUVs

Riley Riley

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What is it?

Mazda’s Mr Smooth.

CX-5 is the George Clooney of SUVs.

The biggest selling SUV in Australia, a mid-sized, five-seater that accounts for more than 15 pert cent of sales in this section of the market.

Launched in 2012, it’s trailed by the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail, both of them also market leaders at one time or another.

So why is the CX-5 so successful? Obviously because buyers like it and there’s a wide range of variants that cater for just about every taste and price, with petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions, front-wheel and all-wheel drive — ranging in price from $28,000 to almost $50,000 before on-road costs.

Variety as they say is the spice of life.

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What’s it cost?

Prices for CX-5 start from $28,690 for the petrol powered, front-wheel drive Maxx with a manual, $33,990 for the Maxx Sport with an auto, or $36,990 with all-wheel drive, or $39,990 for diesel and all wheel drive.

Then comes Touring priced from $38,590, GT from $43,590 or top of the range Akera from $46,190.

Our test vehicle the CX-5 Touring Diesel AWD is priced from $41,590.

It comes with twin zone climate air, rear air vents, and a combination of faux leather and suede trim that make be fake but feels nice and soft to the touch just like a leather jacket I once owned.

There’s LED lights front and back, auto lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror, front and rear park sensors, rear-view camera, satnav, cruise control and flip-up style heads up display,

A number of i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies are offered as standard on all grades.

Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse] (SCBS F/R) — the latter works up to speeds of 80km/h.

Touring grade upwards features Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) which keeps you posted on the current speed limit, even if it’s a work zone.

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What’s it go like?

CX-5 is almost the perfect height for ease of entry and exit, requiring the driver to do little more than simply swivel and stand up.

The driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive, trimmed in soft touch faux leather, with a steering wheel that has height and reach adjustment.

Facing the driver is a dash that contains three round, ordinary looking analogue dials, one of which on closer inspection is actually LCD and can be configured to display a variety of information.

The twin-turbo 2.2-litre diesel delivers 140kW of power and an impressive 450Nm of torque, and is teamed with a conventional 6-speed automatic.

Gear shift paddles are not provided, but really with so much torque on tap, it’s pretty much point and shoot — so you’re not going to need or want them.

It’s been a while between drinks for the CX-5 and the first thing we noticed is how much smoother and more refined the car has become, even with a diesel rattler under the bonnet.

But the interior lacks some panache, apart from the now generic free-standing, tablet-style computer monitor — particularly when compared with cars like the slick Mazda6 which has a cabin that is as good as anything from Europe.

The steering is light and responsive, the ride firm but not uncomfortable, and the car sits flat and corners well for an SUV, with a relatively low centre of gravity.

The quality of the brakes too only becomes apparent when you switch to a different vehicle.

With fuel consumption rated at 5.7L/100km, we were getting a creditable 6.5 after about 400km.

The audio system includes DAB+ digital radio, as well as net-based streaming apps such as Pandora, Stitcher and Aha (but someone needs to tell Mazda Pandora no longer works here).

Rear legroom is a little tighter than we remember, but the boot is a good size with a full-size but temporary spare wheel and it can haul an 1800kg load.


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What we like?

  • The complete package
  • More refined than previous model
  • Perfect height for ease of entry and exit
  • Diesel a benchmark
  • Does what it does without fuss
  • Low fuel consumption


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What we don’t like?

  • A bit plain Jane
  • No gear change paddles (so what)
  • Rear legroom a bit tight
  • Temporary spare


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The bottom line?

It’s not terribly exciting to drive and the interior could do with some work to lift the ambience, but it’s difficult to fault the CX-5 where it counts most. At worst it lacks character, but some may consider this a positive.


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Mazda CX-5, priced from $28,690
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8.5/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 8.0/10
  • Practicality - 8.0/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 7.5/10


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