Mazda CX-5 SUV
Price £23,195 - £30,995
- Stylish design
- Decent fun to drive
- Impressive running costs
- Four-wheel drive dulls handling
- It’s no hardcore off-roader
- Poor interior storage
At a glance
“It’s tricky to find fault with the Mazda CX-5. It drives superbly, doesn’t cost the earth to buy and is pretty cheap to run, too – as well as being practical and good-looking.”
If you’re after a family car that ticks plenty of boxes, then the Mazda CX-5 could well be the car for you. It's practical, well-equipped, good to drive, great value for money, inexpensive to run and handsome. Granted, it doesn’t have the off-road prowess of a Land Rover Discovery Sport or a Jeep Cherokee, but many would argue that it doesn’t really need it.
This is especially true when you consider the fact that the Mazda is just as good – if not better – than any of its rivals on road. It's surprisingly nimble given its size and bulk, while the steering is direct, accurate and nicely weighted. Despite the entertaining driving experience, the CX-5 rides nicely too, absorbing the worst lumps and bumps without ever feeling too soft.
Also among the CX-5's rivals are the likes of the Skoda Yeti, Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the Nissan X-Trail and Nissan Qashqai. The CX-5 also has to lure buyers away from more traditional family hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia.
You get a choice of three engines with the CX-5 – a 163bhp 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel making either 148 or 173bhp. We expect most buyers to go for the less powerful 2.2-litre diesel, as it offers the best combination of performance, fuel economy and refinement.
Paired with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox (the combination we’d recommend) it’ll do 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, but still returns around 61mpg. Its CO2 emissions are rated at 119g/km, which means an annual road-tax bill of £30, while company-car drivers won’t be too put off by a 23% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rate, either.
There are three trims to choose from – SE-L Nav, SE-L Lux Nav and Sport Nav – all of which, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, come with sat nav as standard. All also get alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, privacy glass, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. You also get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control and dual-zone climate control.
Although it may not have the most striking interior design – especially considering the neat design touches outside – the CX-5 is functional and easy to use inside, while also feeling pretty solidly put together. The quality of the materials is also pretty high. Granted, it's not quite at the same level as an Audi Q5, but it's impressive nonetheless, especially considering the Mazda's fairly reasonable price tag.
If you’re after a family car, you really need it to be practical and, although the CX-5 is pretty good in this regard, it's not perfect. One black mark is the lack of a seven-seat option. Even though it's not a given among its rivals, it would be nice to have the capability of carrying a couple of extra passengers when needed.
There's 503 litres of space in the boot – which is towards the top end for the class – and this extends to 1,620 if you fold the rear seats down. The boot is a good square shape, too, with little intrusion from the wheelarches, while a low loading lip makes getting heavy items in and out a cinch, too. One criticism is that the rear seats don’t fold completely flat to the floor.
As has become the norm these days, the Mazda CX-5 shouldn’t cause any safety worries. The expected five-star Euro NCAP rating is present and correct, as is a multitude of safety kit. There's the legally mandated equipment, like a host of airbags, electronic stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring, ISOFIX child-seat points and anti-lock brakes, while you also get emergency city braking, which can slow the car automatically from low speeds if a looming collision is detected.
Neither should reliability be a cause for concern. Mazda has a pretty good reputation in this regard anyway, backed up by the brand's performance in our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. It came ninth out of 32 manufacturers overall, while the CX-5 came 49th out of 150 cars featured, with a decent reliability score.
The Mazda CX-5 employs the brand’s SKYACTIV technology to offer running costs comparable to those of a regular family hatchback
The Mazda CX-5 is a fast and fun-to-drive family car that leaves most of its rivals standing
The Mazda CX-5 is quiet and comfortable, but interior quality is a bit disappointing
The Mazda CX-5 has a large boot and plenty of practical touches inside
Owners have reported few problems with the Mazda CX-5 and it has an excellent safety rating, too