Mazda CX-5 SUV - Interior & comfort
Tactile materials lend the Mazda CX-5 a real feeling of quality
As if the Volkswagen Tiguan wasn’t enough, the arrival of the Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca several years ago only added to the latest CX-5’s long list of rivals. It also has to go head-to-head with the Hyundai Tucson, our Car of the Year winner for 2022. The previous CX-5’s interior was attractive to look at, but couldn’t match the quality of those cars from the VW Group.
For the latest model, Mazda has chosen to concentrate on improving feel rather than making big changes to the layout. There was nothing much wrong with the latter, so it has been wisely left alone. A bit more road noise makes it into the interior than we’d like - especially in GT Sport trim with its large wheels - but it’s still perfectly acceptable. The CX-5 is very smooth, too, especially on the 17-inch wheels of the SE-L.
Mazda CX-5 dashboard
The CX-5’s dashboard has never wanted for visual flair; it actually shares something of the looks of the Mazda MX-5 sports car’s interior. However, while good to look at, it always fell a little short on tactile appeal compared to certain European rivals.
The latest CX-5 has changed that though – its interior is now even better quality than the VW Tiguan’s, having taken a big step forward over the previous model and with arguably more design appeal than the slightly dour German car. The dashboard layout hasn’t changed much – the individually recessed dials are as clear as ever and the major controls are logically placed.
The biggest visual change is that a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system now sprouts from the top of the dashboard, where it looks rather neat, and there’s a rotary controller at your disposal to prevent undue stretching to access frequently used functions. Mazda has kept the software simple, so there’s no chance of getting lost in a warren of sub-menus.
The latest CX-5’s material upgrades are a lot more far-reaching than any design changes have been. If your fingers stray from the steering wheel, they’re likely to encounter soft-feel surfaces in all but the most out-of-the-way locations. The dashboard’s dark expanse is successfully enlivened by subtle chrome highlights that look upmarket rather than tacky. It actually feels like you’re sat in an SUV with a more premium badge.
For the money asked for a CX-5, you won’t feel short-changed by a lack of equipment. Five trim levels are available and the less expensive SE-L is one of our favourites. It comes with sat nav, DAB radio and smartphone app integration via its 10.25-inch touchscreen, as well as dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps, 17-inch alloys and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the CX-5 range.
For £1,000 extra, select petrol models can also be upgraded to the Newground trim, based on SE-L but adding 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black exterior trim and a few lime green highlights. It also gets heated front seats and a reversible boot floor that's waterproof on one side, making it a good value proposition.
Upgrading to Sport is fairly costly but brings a leather interior with power-adjustable heated seats up front. There’s a 10-speaker Bose stereo and heated steering wheel, too, while the looks are set off by a set of 19-inch wheels. Although the colour head-up display is a neat touch, none of this finery really makes the Sport any more functional, so we advise saving money and plumping for the great-value SE-L or Newground. Sport Black is based on the Sport trim, but gives the CX-5 a makeover with black exterior trim replacing most of the chrome accents. Inside it gains a black roof lining, honeycomb interior trim and black leather with red stitching.
The luxurious GT Sport sits at the top of the range, adding real-wood interior trim, Nappa leather seats (ventilated and heated up front, while the outer rear seats are heated), a sunroof and a more sophisticated dashboard display along with a colour head-up display. Parking is also made easier, thanks to a 360-degree monitor, while a powered tailgate adds convenience.
One thing the Sport trim does have in its favour is that you can add certain optional safety features that aren’t available on the SE-L. These include a system to monitor driver fatigue, and rear monitoring which can apply the brakes automatically.
There are also a number of dealer-fit options for the Mazda CX-5, which include illuminated sill strips, luggage storage compartments and protection fittings, as well as additional cup-holders and 12v sockets.
Mazda also offers a number of accessories. There's the ability to add upgraded alloy wheels, or even customise the exterior with a body styling kit. The key fob can be colour-coded to match the car or for added practicality, a tow bar and roof rails can be specified. Floor mats and boot liners are also likely to be popular.