"Good to look at, even better to drive, the Mazda CX-5 is a great family car."
The Mazda CX-5 is the Japanese maker's crossover compact SUV, and it competes with the Skoda Yeti and Volkswagen Tiguan. Two and four-wheel-drive versions are available, but whichever version you go for, you'll get a surprisingly sporty drive. Two engines are offered, a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel in two power outputs, while both engines can be had with a six-speed manual or auto. The CX-5's cabin is spacious and comfortable, and there's a large boot. Drivers should expect plenty of kit as standard, including a touchscreen sat-nav and safety aids, like lane keep assist. Front-wheel drive versions are sure to be popular, as they offer lower running costs and are more enjoyable to drive.
The Mazda CX-5 is available with a 2.2-litre diesel producing 148bhp or 172bhp. These will account for around 85 per cent of sales, but a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 163bhp is also available. The diesels are among the smoothest in this segment, and you'll find that even the lower-powered unit has more than enough grunt. The petrol unit sounds good under hard acceleration but is otherwise incredibly quiet and smooth. The diesels are a far better match for the CX-5, though. When it comes to cornering the CX-5 is quite agile and it resists body roll well, while the steering is light but responsive.
Once you're settled into the driver's seat, the Mazda CX-5 offers up a clear and commanding view of the road. The front seats offer lots of adjustment, and headroom is generous. In the back there's lots of leg and elbow room – it's among the best in class – while seat materials are soft enough to be comfortable, but not so saggy that they lack support. Overall, the interior is neatly laid out and comes packed with equipment, Mazda also offers an optional touchscreen navigation system, lane keep assist and DAB digital radio.
The engine and chassis of the Mazda CX-5 have been newly developed and are mostly unused in any of Mazda's other vehicles. That means there's really no way to gauge exactly how reliable the components will be, but Mazda has generally got a great track record. A whole host of safety gadgets and a solid construction meant it earned a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.
Boot space is amongst the best in the compact SUV class, with 503 litres of space. The rear seats have a 40:20:40 split, and they fold completely flat with the pull of two levers mounted in the boot, while the boot's load cover opens and closes with the bootlid, ensuring your valuables are always hidden from prying eyes. There's also a large glovebox and useful central compartment for the driver and passenger.
Value for money
The Mazda CX-5 is far from cheap - the range starts at well over £20,000, but it remains good value for money for such a capable car, especially if you go for a cheaper two-wheel drive model. Nevertheless, alongside rivals like the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai, the CX-5 carries a slight premium. The flagship Sport Nav trim comes with satellite navigation, heated front seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, full leather upholstery and a Bose stereo as standard.
This is where the CX-5 really impresses. The lower-powered diesel model matches the cleanest models in this class for emissions and fuel economy but provides performance that no other eco-specials can match. Fuel economy is over 60mpg and emissions stand at 119g/km. That's for a front-wheel drive model, but a higher-powered diesel with four-wheel drive still manages 54.3mpg and emissions of 136g/km. The petrol model is the worst of the bunch as you'd expect, but it won't cost the earth to run at 47.1mpg and with emissions of 139g/km.