Recently released: Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s medium SUV, the CX-5, was introduced into Australia in 2012 and has quickly gone on to be the class’s top seller four years straight.

By John Ewing

It was the first of Mazda’s new generation models to fully adopt Skyactiv technology and KODO design styling.

The second generation CX-5 has now arrived and Mazda are optimistic the latest version can maintain the momentum set by its predecessor, keeping its stylish new nose in front of competitors such as the Hyundai Tucson and RAV4.

The latest model range expands to 12 variants, covered by five different grades, starting with the Maxx, rising through Maxx Sport, Touring (a new specification), GT, and the flagship, Akera (pictured).

The range comes with a choice of three engines – two petrol engines and a turbo-diesel, plus manual or auto gearboxes, and either front or all-wheel-drive. The range and prices are shown in the table below. Prices of most versions have risen slightly – Maxx variants by $800, Maxx Sport by $900, and GT by $300. The Akera models defy the trend, dropping $420 off their previous list prices.

The next-gen CX-5 evolves the KODO ‘soul of motion’ body styling further for a more seductive, refined and mature look. Character line accents have been minimised, ‘A’ pillars have moved 35mm rearward, there’s a lower wider look to the front with new grille and thinner, lower placed headlamps. A new premium paint colour, Soul Red Crystal Metallic, has been introduced to compliment the dynamic new styling, and take the paint colour palette to eight in total.

A redesigned interior offers enhanced functionality, improved seat comfort for front and rear passengers, greater oddments stowage space (including a glovebox that will take a 10” tablet), 39 litres of extra cargo space, updates to connectivity and audio system, auto retracting mirrors (Touring and above), new driver display units and revised trims.

Models from Maxx Sport upwards, now get rear air vents too. The refreshed design and greater use of soft touch materials around the cabin and dash helps take the CX-5’s premium look and feel to a higher level again.

The new CX-5 has increased the percentage of ultra-high tensile steel used in the body structure for a safer and stronger body. Other body structure engineering changes increase torsional rigidity by around 15 percent, according to Mazda.

The first-generation CX-5 was highly regarded for its dynamic handling qualities. Engineering tweaks to the suspension and steering have evolved the ride comfort and handling responsiveness further. The most significant change is the incorporation of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control system, as also fitted to the current Mazda3 and recently updated Mazda6. G-Vectoring makes for more responsive turn-in to corners and the vehicle is better able to hold a cornering line with minimal corrections of throttle or steering inputs by the driver.

One of the most immediately obvious areas of improvement is in NVH performance. As with other models of recent times, Mazda’s engineers have worked harder to deliver a quieter cabin for occupants. Particular attention has been paid to reducing low-frequency road noise generated when driving on the coarse road surfaces common in Australia, as well as high-frequency wind and tyre noise heard when travelling at higher speeds. The diesel engine also adopts measures, as already used in the latest Mazda6 diesel, to reduce diesel ‘knock’ and certain vibration forces at the source.

Active safety driver assistance technologies, termed iActivsense by Mazda, have also come in for attention on the new-gen CX-5. Mazda’s Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), an intelligent cruise control system fitted only to the Akera, carries over and continues to use the radar system from the previous car, but now also adopts a forward-sensing camera-based system. This enables it to better recognise cars and now pedestrians, with the operational speed range also widening allowing it to work from zero kph upwards, rather than the previous 30km/h upwards.

Other iActivsense updates include a wider effective speed range for the Smart Brake Support warning and autonomous braking system – previously 15-145km/h, now 15-160kph. Smart City Brake Support now also ‘sees’ pedestrians (operational speed range between 10-60km/h), as well as vehicles. The operating speed range for detecting vehicles rises from 4-30km/h to 4-80km/h. The newcomer hasn’t been independently crash tested yet by ANCAP, though Mazda executives were confident of a five-star rating, in line with its predecessor.