Mazda CX-5 overview
The Mazda CX-5 seems to have been with us forever, but in fact it's only been around in its current from since 2017. Still, that does feel like quite a long time ago now, doesn't it? Mazda, as is its general policy, has kept the CX-5 fresh with multiple updates over the intervening years, and the latest of these upgrades introduces two new trim levels - Homura and Newground - and some minor technical tweaks and trim changes. Can the CX-5 still feel fresh against younger, and increasingly electrified, competition?
The Mazda CX-5 model range
In Ireland, the CX-5 range kicks off with a petrol-powered model using the 2.0-litre 165hp SkyActiv-G engine, in GS-L trim. That will cost you €36,745 - not a bad price at all for a car this big and roomy. Standard equipment at GS-L level includes 17-inch alloys, automatic wipers, automatic LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, leather finish for the steering wheel and gearshift, keyless ignition, cruise control, 10.25-inch infotainment screen and emergency autonomous braking. If you want the 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine in GS-L trim, that'll be €40,625.
Next up is the Newground trim, which adds 19-inch alloys in a black-and-silver finish, half-leatherette seats with suede inserts, powered driver's seat, heated front seats, a reversible boot floor, a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, upgraded emergency autonomous braking, automatic high-beam lights and lane-keeping steering. The Newground also gets some exterior styling upgrades, such as a front 'bash plate' and subtle green highlights, as well as a funky 'Zircon Sand' beige paint job that gives it more of an off-road flavour. With the 2.0-litre petrol engine, you'll pay €38,745, or €42,625 for the 150hp diesel, which is the one we're testing here.
Alongside Newground is GT trim, which on top of GS-L adds 19-inch alloys, driver's powered seat, black leather trim and heated seats and steering wheel. That will cost you €38,745 in petrol form, or €42,625 powered by diesel.
GT Sport trim adds a de-icing strip for the front wipers, automatic high-beam, a sunroof, powered tailgate, a seven-inch digital instrument panel, a head-up display, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera, a high-end Bose stereo, blind spot monitoring, upgraded emergency autonomous braking, automatic high-beam lights, lane-keeping steering and traffic sign recognition. A GT Sport costs €41,895 with the petrol engine (€46,495 in automatic form), or €45,775 with the diesel engine (€50,375 with an automatic).
Homura is next up, and can be considered the CX-5's sportiest trim. It adds 19-inch alloys, black leather trim with contrast red stitching, powered front seats with memory for the driver's seat, piano black exterior trim, red grille accent and a beefed-up exhaust outlet. You'll pay €43,895 for a 2.0-litre petrol Homura (or €48,945 with an automatic), €47,775 for the diesel engine, or €52,365 for the diesel auto.
At the top of the range is the GT Lux, which gets 19-inch bright finished alloys, heated and ventilated front seats with Nappa leather, Japanese 'Sen' wood trim, LED interior lighting, heated rear seats, reverse braking support, driver attention monitor, adaptive LED headlights and a mixture of body colour and gloss black exterior trim. Prices for a GT Lux start from €44,460 for the 2.0-litre petrol (€49,240 for the automatic), or €54,770 for the 2.2 diesel, which in GT Lux trim gets upgraded to 184hp with four-wheel drive (or €59,370 for the GT Lux 184hp diesel automatic).
CO2 emissions start from 147g/km for the base 2.2-litre 150hp diesel, rising to 153g/km for a base 2.0-litre petrol. A top-spec petrol has emissions of 166g/km, while with four-wheel drive and an automatic, the GT Lux diesel's emissions are 173g/km.
Mazda Ireland currently has a 4.9 per cent APR PCP plan offer in place for the CX-5, with monthly repayments starting from €432. Have a look at the Mazda Ireland website for the latest available offers.
The Mazda CX-5 interior
The CX-5's interior is familiar, which is fine as it goes, but it is starting to look and feel just a bit old compared to some newer rivals, especially those from Hyundai and Kia. The instrument panel is a good place to start in this regard - it uses a mixture of analogue and digital displays, which are neatly woven together and look handsome, but which equally are a bit static and lacking in customisation options.
At least the CX-5 has been given the latest infotainment operating system from the smaller CX-30 and the Mazda3 hatchback, and it's a substantial improvement on the clunky mess that was there before. The 10-inch screen is relatively shallow and mounted up high on the dashboard, and is controlled by the little click-wheel down on the centre console. That works well, and it's less distracting to use on the go than systems that rely entirely on touchscreens. Thankfully, there are proper physical ventilation and air conditioning controls, too.
In front of the gear lever there's a new wireless phone charger (optional in this Newground model), and you'll find two USB sockets and a 12-volt socket in the storage box under the centre armrest. There are two more USB sockets in the rear seats, but you'll have to search for them - they're also under the rear-seat armrest lid, which opens to reveal a shallow storage tray and some cupholders.
There are cupholders in the front too, of course, and these are mounted down low so that a water bottle in them won't get in your way when you're working the gear shifter. The Newground trim gets contrasting lime-green stitching on the seats, and matching air vent surrounds, but we much prefer the gorgeous Japanese 'Sen' wood of the higher-spec GT Lux versions.
Space is plentiful in the front seats, and pretty decent in the back, plus there's a reasonable 504-litre boot. That boot gets an almost-flat load lip, plus a clever luggage cover that remains attached to the tailgate as you open it, and which includes a mesh panel so that you can see into the cabin, and the driver can see out the back while the tailgate is open. There's a power socket back there too, and the rear seats split-fold in 40:20:40 formation, and are sprung so that they fall flat (entirely flat, too) when you tug a handle in the boot. The flip-over boot floor, which has a rugged rubbery-plastic cover on the reverse side, is also very handy if you're carrying wet loads, or a wet dog.
Overall quality levels are excellent, as you'd expect from Mazda, but there's definitely a sense of age about the CX-5's cabin. It feels noticeably narrower than those of competitors such as the Hyundai Tucson or Skoda Karoq, while the major surfaces look and feel a little bulky, rather than being reduced and sharp-looking. It's still a fine interior, but the grey hairs are definitely showing.
The Mazda CX-5 driving experience
If the CX-5 is feeling a touch old inside, then that's equally true of the way that it drives, but there's a little more nuance to it than that. The CX-5 feels old to drive simply because it's only available with a plain old petrol or diesel line-up, with no hybrid, no plug-in hybrid and no fully-electric version. Mazda is taking some first steps down this road (the MX-30 EV and the new CX-60 PHEV are evidence of that), but the CX-5 remains resolutely old school. The only evidence of electrification is the exceptionally quick-reacting stop-start system.
A manual gearbox also sort of dates the CX-5, as most customers buying at this price level expect an automatic by now. Mind you, that six-speed gearbox remains a delight to use. Mazda claiming that all of its cars share the DNA of the little MX-5 sports car has the whiff of marketing horse hockey about it, but when you change gears in the CX-5, you'll believe it just a little.
There's also definite joy in the way the CX-5 drives. The steering has a stiff, slightly weighty feel to it, but it does have helpful feedback and responsiveness, and combined with a sense of agility from the chassis, you can really enjoy driving the Mazda. It enjoyably eats up twisty roads, and yet is still a decent cruiser, albeit one that has a certain issue with wind and tyre noise.
The 2.2 diesel engine has been around for a decade now, and while diesel is hardly what a majority of customers want anymore, this is still a game unit. It's smooth, if not entirely quiet, and very economical - we easily averaged 5.7 litres per 100km in our time with the CX-5. With no hybrid option, it's not what you'd call innovative, but if your regular drive involves getting from one end or side of the country to the other every day, then it's still relevant.
Our verdict on the Mazda CX-5
It might seem either ironic or downright disingenuous for this commentator to start complaining about the Mazda CX-5 feeling old. I'm a darned sight older than it, for a start. However, there's no getting away from the fact that the CX-5 is based on a mechanical package that dates back to 2012, and that it is looking noticeably short of electric add-ons or alternatives. That said, it's still a great looking car, a practical car and one that's notably more fun to drive than the vast majority of its competition. Plus, with Mazda's quality, it's built to last. Ageing? Yes, but gracefully.
What do the rest of the team think?
A diesel-powered SUV with a manual gearbox isn't very 2022, is it? Nonetheless, despite its advancing years, it's easy to like the CX-5. As Neil mentioned, it drives better than most other similar vehicles, while you'd bet on it being reliable and its interior standing the test of time. I could do without the lime green air vents in the Newground model, but otherwise the recent updates just about keep the car relevant for those that aren't yet bothered about electrification of their car.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor