Mazda CX-5 SUV
Price £21,895 - £29,895
- Stylish, distinctive design
- Economical and powerful engines
- Comfortable on the road
- Interior storage could be better
- Better on-road than off-road
- Four-wheel drive cars not as fun to drive
At a glance
"The Mazda CX-5 is an SUV that's as good to drive as a sporty hatchback, with the space of a 4x4 and the running costs of a supermini."
The Mazda CX-5 may have arrived much later than most of its crossover rivals, but this has allowed Mazda to raise the bar, beating a lot of them in the process. By focusing on making the CX-5 lightweight, it feels more like a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus hatchback than a 4x4 to drive, with excellent steering and a snappy gearshift almost like you’d find in a Mazda MX-5 sports car.
When you’re not enjoying yourself behind the wheel, it's also great for families, thanks to one of the largest load areas in its class, with middle-row seats designed to easily fold flat to allow for bulky cargo.
There's a petrol engine available, but not many Brits will choose it when the 2.2-litre diesel not only offers excellent performance, but much better fuel economy of between 50 and 60mpg. Our pick of the bunch is the lower-powered 148bhp version with front-wheel drive, which costs just £30 a year to tax. In this guise the CX-5 is a really great package, perhaps only rivalled by the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai for all-around appeal.
Find out what we think is the best crossover-SUV by watching our video below.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Even the most powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine in the Mazda CX-5 returns 54.3mpg
The entry-level 2.2-litre diesel engine might sound big, but its 61.4mpg economy and 119g/km of CO2 means it costs only £30 each year to tax – less than some superminis. A 2.0-litre diesel Ford Kuga emits 139g/km and returns 53.3mpg, identical figures to the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI fitted with BlueMotion Technology.
Fitting four-wheel drive reduces fuel economy to 54.3mpg and increases CO2 emissions to 136g/km (costing £130 to tax). While these are still very good figures, it makes it worth sticking to just front-wheel drive if you don’t think you’ll need the extra grip.
There’s a 2.0-litre petrol engine available too, and although it doesn’t feel as well-suited to the Mazda CX-5, its 47.1mpg and 139g/km still costs just £130 in annual road tax and beats the economy of most rivals. If you spend most of your time in town and don't rack up huge miles on the motorway, then this could be the car for you.
The Ford Kuga 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol has less power and only manages 42.8mpg and 154g/km, costing £180 annually.
Engines, drive & performance
The Mazda CX-5 is fast and fun to drive, even on a twisty country road
Mazda’s engineers have concentrated on saving weight, making the CX-5 remarkably light for an SUV. You can tell, it feels more like a hatchback to drive than a 4x4, and quite a sporty one at that. Precise steering and a lack of body lean encourages you to flick the CX-5 from one corner to the next, and it’s surprisingly fun while doing so. Only the Skoda Yeti rivals the Mazda CX-5 for driving satisfaction.
The best engine is the 2.2-litre diesel available with either 148bhp or 172bhp, getting the CX-5 from 0-62mph in 9.2 and 8.8 seconds respectively (with a manual gearbox fitted). This means even the entry-level diesel is one of the quickest cars in its class and the one we’d choose as the best all-rounder. The 172bhp version might be slightly faster, but you’ll hardly feel it in normal driving, so it’s not really worth the extra outlay unless you regularly tow heavy loads. Both diesel versions can pull a 2,000kg braked trailer, but the extra power should help you get up to speed safely.
Just 15 per cent of British buyers are expected to go for the front-wheel drive petrol model, but the 2.0-litre engine is smooth and works well in town. Out on the open road it feels more strained than the diesel, because it needs to be revved more, so if you're racking up huge miles we'd avoid it.
The diesel is available with or without four-wheel drive, with a precise six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic. The latter is smooth, but it blunts performance and isn’t as advanced as the DSG automatic gearbox used in the Volkswagen Tiguan.
Interior & comfort
The Mazda CX-5 is quiet and comfortable, but the interior is a little drab
A high seating position with plenty of adjustment gives you a comfortable and commanding view of the road, with excellent visibility. In fact, the only obtrusive blind spots are either side of the rear window, but the standard-fit parking sensors help out here.
The dashboard is logically laid-out and feels very solid, if a little lacking in attractive design details. A Volkswagen Tiguan has more expensive-looking materials, but the CX-5 isn’t too far behind. Buttons on the dashboard are kept to a minimum by a standard-fit touchscreen, but its rectangular shape means it looks a bit like an aftermarket Halfords-style unit.
Excellent refinement is one of the CX-5’s best features, with quiet petrol and diesel engines and little wind noise, even at higher speeds. Despite being quite sporty for an SUV, the CX-5 also glides over the road, stopping most lumps and bumps from being felt inside the cabin.
Practicality & boot space
Large boot and clever touches make the Mazda CX-5 hugely practical
The 503-litre boot in the Mazda CX-5 is one of the largest in the class, beating the 442 litres on offer in the Honda CR-V and 430-litres found in the Volkswagen Tiguan. Though it’s not quite as practical as the seven-seat Mitsubishi Outlander, with a 591 litre boot.
The rear seats split and fold 40:20:40 – a job made especially easy thanks to levers in the boot that drop the seats individually. The seats also lie flat in the floor, making it easier to slide large items inside, while the large hatchback and small loading lip means larger items like flat pack furniture can be loaded easily.
Passenger space is excellent in the front and rear seats for four adults, with plenty of headroom and legroom, however the rear bench is too narrow for three adults, and even children may feel claustrophobic owing to a narrow middle seat. There’s also less flexibility of the rear seating and fewer features like picnic tables than you’ll find in an MPV like the Citroen C4 Picasso.
We like the clever tonneau cover, as it moves up and down with the boot and replaces the traditional fixed parcel shelf that you'll find in many of its rivals. Sadly there’s no spare wheel, with the CX-5 instead coming with a tyre repair kit to help you limp home or to the nearest garage.
Reliability & safety
The Mazda CX-5 performs well with customers and all models gained the full five-stars from Euro NCAP
The Mazda CX-5 was ranked an impressive 13th out of 150 models in the 2014 Driver Power survey customer satisfaction survey, ahead of the Ford Kuga in 34th and the Tiguan in 40th, but behind the Skoda Yeti, taking first overall. The CX-5 came 31st for reliability and an impressive 16th for build quality, showing few customers have had quality issues with the CX-5. Mazda also came eighth as a brand out of 33 manufacturers, so you can expect great service at your local dealership.
Euro NCAP crash testing awarded the CX-5 the full five stars, so it’s safe for families. Six airbags, seatbelt reminders for front and rear seats and technology to help recover from skids are all fitted as standard. All CX-5s also come with autonomous braking fitted, to stop the car if a collision is detected at speeds below 20mph.
Price, value for money & options
All Mazda CX-5 models boast a decent level of standard equipment, so you shouldn’t need to spend on options
The Mazda CX-5 is priced competitively and because of its low running costs, it should still work out cheaper than rivals that cost slightly less to buy.
It’s also better equipped than most of its rivals, with the entry-level SE-L trim boasting cruise control, dual-zone air-con, auto wipers and lights, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a 5.8-inch touch-screen. Upgrading to SE-L Nav adds TomTom sat-nav for £700, while SE-L Lux boasts electrically adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a sunroof. The range-topping Sport Nav model features 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a nine-speaker Bose stereo and a reversing camera.
Entry-level versions of the Skoda Yeti come without parking sensors or a touch-screen infotainment system, while you’d need to step up to the Ford Kuga’s Titanium trim level to benefit from auto wipers and headlights.
All the CX-5’s safety equipment is fitted as standard, including its autonomous braking system, technology, which is often reserved for top trim levels or as an optional extra on rival models.
The Mazda CX-5 is expected to hold its value as well as the Ford Kuga and Skoda Yeti, so it should be worth around 46 per cent of its retail value after three years/36,000 miles. However, the best performer amongst its rivals is the Volkswagen Tiguan, holding on to around 52 per cent.