At First Glance
It was a stormy morning when I arrived at the Mazda dealership to pick up the CX-5. As I was shown the way to the test unit, it looked much more impressive up close than pictures on the internet suggest. The contour lines and other details that give it a very subtle muscular look have a tendency to fade out when seen from a distance. The rising shoulder-line combined with the flared-out rear fender gives its a more sporty look, and the rear twin tail pipes hint at this car's potential for performance. It seemed my day was starting to brighten up despite the torrential downpour just outside the dealership door.
Getting in the CX-5, I was greeted by an all-black interior with a touchscreen head-unit, a black leather-clad steering wheel (with controls for audio, cruise control, and Bluetooth functions), shift knob, and handbrake lever. The interior's look and feel, especially the dashboard, reminded me of a European executive sedan; it was stylish yet precise and business-like. The seats are in black fabric and very supportive, something that would feel more at home in a sports car than in a SUV. The automatic climate control air-con has dual-zone temperature controls, which is great if your passenger prefers a different temperature setting. But enough of the small details. I pressed the START button, and the 2.0L engine came to life.
Heading out into the rain, I quickly found the car very light to drive, despite its 1,375 kg curb weight. The Skyactiv 2.0L is rated at 162hp at 6,000rpm and 210 Nm at 4,000rpm. With the accelerator floored, the CX-5 surges forward with authority, and should get from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds. Yet in normal driving, the six speed manual transmission allows you to keep engine revs at 1,000 to 2,000 rpm between shifts. Driving the car around the city (in light to moderate traffic), I was able to achieve a fuel economy of around 10.2 km/L according to the on-board computer. Our Test Drive Editor, Niky Tamayo, mentioned that he was able to achieve a better fuel economy of nearly 20km/L, albeit at a strict 80 km/h on the highway. Either way, those are pretty impressive fuel consumption figures for an SUV.
My confidence with the CX-5 grew despite the stormy weather outside. Its handling is sharp and predictable, while the ride quality is firm yet comfortably smooth with very little engine and road noise entering the cabin. The electric power steering (EPS) provides excellent road feel, which is great, as many other cars equipped with EPS usually ends up with practically dead steering feel. The six-speed manual is smooth, responsive, and precise.
The CX-5 is as entertaining to drive as the somewhat awkwardly-heavy CX-7 promised to be. Yet despite being smaller and lighter than the CX-7, the CX-5 is not lacking in space. The rear seat and boot seem about as spacious as in the CX-7, and the front seats are great for sporty driving.
Other interesting features of this SUV are the 5.8 inch touch screen audio system, traction control system, dynamic stability control system, tire pressure monitoring system, dual front airbags, and side curtain airbags - features usually found in more expensive cars, but quite surprising to find in the more humble Mazda CX-5.
Some basic features I did find lacking were auto-locking doors and rear reversing sensors. These should be simple to remedy with aftermarket solutions, but maybe Mazda can add them to next year's version?
Dare I say it? Despite the less than ideal weather, the Mazda CX-5 proved to be the proverbial silver lining to my dark, stormy drive home. The next few days of driving in the CX-5 simply went by too quickly. It was a heart-breaker having to return her to the dealership, because the CX-5 was as fun to drive as it was frugal. Priced at P1,392,000 for the 6-speed manual CX-5 4x2, owning a great driving SUV does not have to result in expensive fuel bills.