Mazda CX-5 Petrol 2012: Road Test

photos - Brad Nucifora
Mazda’s latest offering is a spacious and well-styled high-riding wagon with a variety of treatments to serve everyday purpose. Just don’t push it

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD and CX-5 Maxx FWD
Road Test

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD
Price Guide (recommended price before statutory & delivery charges):
$43,200
Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Tech Pack $1990
Crash rating: Five-star (EuroNCAP)
Fuel: 91 RON ULP
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 6.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 160
Also consider: Nissan X-TRAIL; Ssangyong Korando; Subaru Outback; Volkswagen Tiguan

Mazda CX-5 Maxx FWD
Price Guide (recommended price before statutory & delivery charges): $29,800
Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Nil
Crash rating: Five-star (EuroNCAP)
Fuel: 91 RON ULP
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 6.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 148
Also consider: Mitsubishi ASX; Kia Sportage; Hyundai iX35

Unfortunately the difference between the CX-5 diesel and petrol models is stark. The former has a hearty powerplant which works well with the six-speed auto while the petrol versions betray lacklustre performance despite Mazda’s marketing of this as an athletic crossover.

Ideally, every model in the new CX-5 range should be judged a winner, but at this stage it’s only the diesel that’s a standout. The 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol units are part of Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine range tasked with accomplishing more efficient motoring… The CX-5 is, after all, the successor to the slightly bigger and much thirstier CX-7.

In front-wheel drive form the petrol CX-5 is rated at 114kW/200Nm. As tested, the entry Maxx model comes with rear vision camera; a standard-fit feature range-wide. Considering the occurrence of “driveway deaths” – usually around SUVs – the addition to every CX-5 is commendable.

Even at base spec the CX-5’s cabin has stylish interior trim with cloth that feels good quality and hard wearing. Driver instrumentation is also well styled and features in the centre stack and console are quick-to-hand, however the auto shift is positioned too low, requiring the driver to reach downward -- not sideways -- for control. The front seats are set too high and can’t be lowered to any great degree, which doesn’t help the arrangement. Steering wheel adjustability is also lacking.

The top-spec Grand Touring all-wheel drive CX-5 was fitted with Mazda’s optional Tech Pack incorporating blind spot assistance. It’s usually a good feature but technicians have set it too wide (7.0 metres); meaning cars well back and out of the way will trigger the sensor which makes a sound upon activating the side indicator(s).

CX-5’s range-wide, standard-fit idle stop-start system props the SKYACTIV agenda and restart is smooth, however activating the function requires a relatively heavy plant of your foot on the brake pedal. If, as is often the case in heavy traffic, the driver lets off the brake momentarily the system will take around half a minute to return to a shut-down cycle.

As mentioned in earlier reviews, the six-speed automatic is a new unit to complement Mazda's release of the SKYACTIV engine range. In both the diesel and petrol models the transmission is super keen to get to top gear in its quest for efficiency however its hesitance to downshift at every reasonable instance is off-putting in application to the petrol engine. On at least a couple occasions the auto wouldn’t even downshift while travelling down a steep hill, under hard braking.

The diesel engine’s torque works fine with the unit’s set-up but the same doesn’t translate for the petrol CX-5. Acceleration from standstill is long and seemingly laboured unless the driver is willing to stick the boot in and ask for over 3000 revs just to get moving. Using the auto in manual mode generally doesn’t help matters, and forget overtaking at highway speeds. Here, the manual mode somewhat assists but expect to drop at least two cogs and wait before attempting a safe pass.

The transmission seemed to operate less confusedly in the front-wheel drive model however neither was ideal in terms of response. The front-wheel drive CX-5 used 7.8L/100km over the week, versus the AWD’s 8.3L/100km, which incorporated a 300km highway stint. We expected better…

Otherwise, the CX-5 is agile around town with light and tight steering, making for easy parking. Outward vision is compromised by the slit and stylish rear windscreen but the side mirrors are well-sized and offer clear view down the CX-5’s shapely flanks.

Rear cargo space resembles a small wagon’s but with more height space, and the tailgate is lightweight and easy to open and close. The CX-5 has a sleeker profile than the likes of blocky offerings such as Land Rover Freelander and Nissan X-TRAIL but the Mazda maintains good headroom and load space through to the rear.

There’s no difference in capabilities such as towing between the front-driver and all-wheeler; both at 1800kg unbraked. The all-wheel drive CX-5 lacks any offroad apparatus so its function amounts to an advantage in tractability, akin to Subaru’s line on its traditionally AWD range for sale here. It’s snow season, after all…

Whether front- or all-wheel drive, what you’ll get with Mazda’s latest offering is a spacious and well-styled high-riding wagon with a variety of treatments to serve everyday purpose. Just don’t push it.

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Published : Friday, 8 June 2012
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