What are you driving?
This is the new Mazda CX-5, resplendent in that wine-ish colour that the Japanese brand is ever so proud of. It's difficult to discern from the photos, but the styling has undergone some revisions to differentiate it from the outgoing model. Never a bad-looking car, the CX-5 is now a simpler, more resolved design, with less in the manner of swage lines down the flanks and fussy details in general, following the theme of 'elegance through simplicity'. A lower bonnet, reshaped lights front and rear and a more prominent grille are the most obvious bits, and the whole bodyshell is 10mm longer and 35mm lower than the old car's, though the wheelbase is unchanged.
Inside, things have been spruced up somewhat with an improvement in material quality and fit, as well as the addition of a centrally-mounted touchscreen. Frustrating, then, that there's still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality, something that's more or less standard on the CX-5's rivals at this stage. Drivers will find that all controls fall readily to hand, however, and the tactility of some switches makes them a pleasure to use, the door mirror adjuster being one example. It's the small things...
While there isn't as much load space as in some competitors (seats up or down), it's a comfortable place to be for all occupants, with loads of room in the back. Refined, too, and with the excellent Bose stereo (standard on this trim level), head-up display and adaptive cruise control, a very competent motorway companion.
Name its best bits
Mazda likes to go on about its 'Jinba Ittai' philosophy, which loosely translated means 'horse and rider as one'. Of course, the CX-5 is no temperamental, impossible-to-keep-alive equine creature, and you don't need to be a trained jockey to drive it. What it is, however, is a very decent steer. We're not going to pretend that it'll blow your socks off, but for this class of vehicle it is really very good. The 'G-Vectoring' system works unobtrusively, trimming torque during cornering to better load up the front end and improve turn-in, while body control is exemplary for a crossover-cum-SUV, meaning the whole experience is infinitely more satisfying than what's offered by many of its sub-premium opponents.
Anything that bugs you?
While this car is fitted with the six-speed automatic gearbox, we've also tested the manual option on the international launch and, truth be told, it's the latter that's the better of the two. The auto is just too old-fashioned and dim-witted, and the improved fuel economy (not forgetting the delightful shift action) of the manual makes it the preferred choice.
How much to get one on my driveway?
We'll take the 2.0-litre petrol-engined Executive as an example; on PCP finance and with a deposit of €8,699, monthly repayments equate to 36 instalments of €294, with a GMFV of €12,489. Obviously that'll vary depend on which engine and trim level you go for.
And why have you given it this rating?
Over the last few years Mazda has quietly been reinventing itself as a genuine alternative to the premium European brands, and the new CX-5 is further proof of that. It's not a massive evolution over the outgoing model, but the important things have been sufficiently improved to bring it right into contention once again. Save for a few niggling aspects, such as infotainment tech and load space, it's hard to fault.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Mazda CX-5 that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.