Mazda CX-5 SUV
"The Mazda CX-5 is stylish, well equipped, great to drive and painless to own"
- Engaging to drive
- Well equipped
- Great looks
- Top spec expensive
- Rivals more spacious
- Some safety features extra
The Mazda CX-5 is an SUV that, unlike many of its rivals, manages to look svelte despite its SUV proportions. As well as good looks, the CX-5 benefits from some of the same character and driving dynamics that Mazda engineers built into the Mazda MX-5. The CX-5 is fun to drive as a result, especially when compared to the Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Edge and Nissan Qashqai, and it runs the upmarket BMW X3 and Audi Q3 close on an open road too.
The design is unlike that of its blocky and bulky rivals. The grille is much larger than before and is partnered with slim headlights, which together give it a more distinctive and confident appearance. And although it’s a little shorter than its predecessor, it looks sleeker. In short, it’s better looking than most of its rivals, including the stylish Skoda Kodiaq and SEAT Ateca.
The interior of the CX-5 looks much as before, but feels very different thanks to Mazda’s use of higher-grade materials. Surfaces are pleasantly tactile while discreet chrome highlights convey a real sense of quality. There’s up-to-date technology, too, including a prominent seven-inch infotainment screen. A conveniently located rotary controller avoids you having to reach to operate it and smudging the screen.
With the model’s radical overhaul, Mazda took the opportunity to slash the CX-5 line-up to just two trim levels, SE-L Nav+ and Sport Nav+, but an update for 2019 added a third 'GT Sport Nav+' trim level. You'll not find a meagrely equipped CX-5 in the range; even the SE-L Nav+ packs a lot of kit including that touchscreen infotainment system which has a sat nav, a DAB digital radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
There’s also dual-zone climate control so front-seat occupants can control their own temperature and air-conditioning levels, smart 17-inch alloy wheels and bright LED headlights. Crucially from a safety perspective, it also comes with autonomous emergency braking, which automatically applies the brakes if it detects an obstacle you’re not slowing down for.
Upgrading to Sport Nav+ adds racier 19-inch wheels, leather seats with electric adjustment and heating for those in the front, as well as a heated steering wheel. There’s also a colour head-up information display, a powered tailgate, a 10-speaker Bose stereo and traffic-sign recognition. This specification impresses for the price, particularly compared to premium models like the Mercedes GLC. The GT Sport Nav+ has a plusher interior with Nappa leather upholstery and a 'real wood' finish to the dashboard and doors, as well as a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats and heated outer rear seats.
Most CX-5 passengers will find interior space to be more than adequate, although the 506-litre boot is a little smaller than the 615 litres the VW Tiguan can provide if its adjustable rear seats are slid fully forwards. If the boot frustrates, though, it’ll soon be forgiven when you experience how quiet the Mazda is inside. Engine noise is subdued and carefully considered sound-deadening blocks the worst of the rumble from the car’s wide tyres.
The latest CX-5 has been independently crash-tested and awarded five stars by Euro NCAP. It's even safer than the original model, thanks to more modern design and a long list of hi-tech safety equipment.
Reliability is one of Mazda’s key strengths, and played its part in the CX-5 ranking 15th in the top 75 cars in our 2019 Driver Power survey. Priced competitively and representing a terrifically strong overall package, the CX-5 is one of the more compelling SUV choices on the market today.