Mazda CX-5 SUV (2012-2017) - Engines, drive & performance

The Mazda CX-5 is a fast and fun-to-drive family car that leaves most of its rivals standing

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.3 out of 5

The Mazda CX-5 has been made as light as possible in order to maximise fuel consumption, but this also means it's surprisingly good fun to drive for such a large and practical car. Anyone who's driven the superb Mazda MX-5 roadster will notice that a hint of that model's agility and eagerness has been transferred to the CX-5.

Direct, well weighted steering, a tight, precise gearbox and powerful, responsive engines combine to make this probably the most satisfying SUV driving experience you can get. In comparison, while the Nissan Qashqai handles well, its engines can feel overwhelmed by steep hills or a full load of passengers and luggage. On the downside, both the automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive can dull the CX-5's sharpness a little bit, while the slightly cheaper Skoda Yeti is also unexpectedly entertaining to drive.

The CX-5 has fairly soft suspension, so it can lean a bit if you go around corners quickly, but it's far from the worst in the class in this regard. The benefit of the soft suspension is a supremely comfortable ride, even on very poor surfaces.

Mazda CX-5 diesel engines

Mazda offers two versions of the same 2.2-litre diesel engine in the CX-5. The first produces 148bhp and is available with either a manual or automatic gearbox and two or four-wheel drive in the SE-L Nav specification. It gets the CX-5 from 0-62mph in a respectable 9.4 seconds (or 10.1 seconds for the automatic). In the SE-L Lux Nav trim level, you're restricted to this engine with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

The more powerful 2.2-litre diesel produces 173bhp and is only available in range-topping Sport Nav trim with four-wheel drive (although you do have a choice of manual or automatic transmission). This engine powers the CX-5 from 0-62mph in nine seconds (or 9.5 for the automatic). However, we think the 148bhp version will be more than adequate for most people's needs, as well as representing better value for money in the cheaper trim levels.

Petrol engine

There's only one petrol engine available for the CX-5: a 163bhp 2.0-litre that can be specified in SE-L Nav or range-topping Sport Nav trim. Neither automatic transmission nor four-wheel drive is available with the petrol engine, and it's also less economical than the 148bhp diesel, while taking longer (10.4 seconds) to go from 0-62mph. For this reason, it's hard to recommend unless you do a fairly low annual mileage or just prefer the generally quieter, smoother nature of petrol engines.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
i20
Deals
9 Apr 2021

Best new car deals 2021

UK road tax rules for 2021 explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Tips and advice
8 Apr 2021

UK road tax rules for 2021 explained

New 2021 Porsche Macan nearing production
2021 Porsche Macan SUV front 3/4 static
Porsche Macan
7 Apr 2021

New 2021 Porsche Macan nearing production

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Tips and advice
28 Dec 2020

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Best cars
24 Dec 2020

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks