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Mazda CX-5 Review

Designed to fill a niche in the passenger car market, crossovers aim to blend the space and elevated seating position provided by a sports utility vehicle (SUV) with the driving characteristics of a standard car.

Launched in Malaysia last year, the CX-5 is Mazda’s first compact SUV/crossover and was the first of the Hiroshima manufacturer’s Kodo design-themed models.

A host of efficiency measures such as high-compression ratio direct-injection engines, early lock-up torque converter automatic gearboxes and high-strength, lightweight steel bodyshell construction make up Mazda’s Skyactiv effiency initiative.

For our market, a 2.0-litre engine with a choice of two or all-wheel-drive is offered.

The variant tested here is the all-wheel-drive model, with both front and rear axles receiving power via a six-speed automatic gearbox. Body dimensions are mostly identical, except a very small reduction in the AWD’s ground clearance compared with the 2WD model’s, and adds approximately 50kg for the all-wheel-drive model.

The AWD car’s engine and gearbox combination retain all the user friendliness of the front-wheel-drive variant. With the task of propulsion shared by all four wheels, the AWD variant gains a traction advantage over the 2WD model in the wet, especially when putting its power down driving out of slow corners.

The AWD loses some of the 2WD car’s eagerness to accelerate, though. A claimed 1hp and 2Nm engine output deficit by itself should be a negligible difference on the road, but it is bogged down possibly by the AWD drivetrain and the larger diameter wheels fitted as standard to the AWD variant. This is less of an issue when maintaining speed on the highway, but the relative lethargy is noticeable in traffic.

Driving the CX-5 imparts a sensation that resembles what is experienced with a normal car, which is impressive considering its elevated driving position relative to sedans and hatchbacks.

This Mazda is an agile drive, too. It steers accurately and loads up the helm consistently when cornering forces add up, while also retaining a commendable level of composure on most roads. Only large or sharp mid-corner bumps upset its body control.

Refinement in the CX-5 AWD is commendable. Road noise is kept at a distinctly car-like hush, whether it is on rough rural roads or on concrete highway surfaces. Wind noise is absent most of the time, only making its presence known when ploughing along well into three figures.

The all-paw CX-5 manages a full load of luggage and occupants too. Leather upholstered throughout the cabin, the AWD also features a Bose sound system, played from a multimedia infotainment and navigation head unit.

Its rear bench seats three adults in comfort, although with a raised central tunnel on the cabin floor, the middle passenger will need to be slightly smaller than the others in the rear passenger compartment. Plenty of storage is available throughout the cabin, including cubbyholes for sunglasses, SmartTags and the like.

The 561-litre capacity luggage compartment accomodates most payloads with ease, while the rear seats fold flat easily to make room for larger objects, for example bicycles or pieces of furniture.

The rear seat backs also feature levers to enable folding from the luggage compartment, eliminating the need to move between the luggage compartment and the rear passenger compartment in order to accommodate the aforementioned oversized items.

In our time with the CX-5, it was remarkably easy to get accustomed to this compact SUV. Sure, it doesn’t actually have considerable offroading ability, but that’s beside its point.

Considering its characteristics, the Mazda takes the road-oriented approach to the crossover genre – SUV in silhouette, but essentially a tarmac-bound vehicle in nature. Used in its urban environment as intended, the CX-5 hits the mark.

Specifications of the Mazda CX-5 2.0 Skyactiv AWD

Engine: 1,997 cc inline-four, naturally aspirated direct injection
Max power: 154hp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 198Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety features: ABS, EBD, ESP, TC, BA
Price: 169,775.70 OTR with insurance

Standard fitment 225/55/R19


Honda CR-V RM148,800
Nissan X-Trail RM144,255.30
Mitsubishi ASX RM138,156.10
Kia Sportage RM138,888

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  1. Any chance of the 2.5 coming to our shores?

    • We posed that question recently, and Bermaz responded by saying they will wait and see what demand is like. Meanwhile, Honda is expected to launch a 2.4-litre variant of the just-released CR-V in June, and how the market responds to that model is possibly one of the indicators Mazda is going to keep tabs on.

  2. Looks like I would also adopt the wait and see approach. I currently have a CRV G3, which is due for replacement this year and looking forward to a more powerful variant as the 2.0 is simply put “just enough borderline lethargic”.

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