Mazda's second generation CX-5 will be at its most popular in SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre 150PS diesel form. Jonathan Crouch finds out why.
One of the most popular and rapidly expanding market sectors is that for Qashqai-sized Crossovers and Mazda's CX-5 has gained a reputation as one of the most engaging of these. With this second generation model, the Japanese firm aims to offer more refinement, lower running costs and an even better drive than the original. Does it hit the mark? Let's check out the volume SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre 150PS diesel version and find out.
Mazda scored a big hit with the first generation CX-5, so the second generation version of this Qashqai rival is hugely important for them and will sell most readily in the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel 150PS guise we're going to look at here. The engine and optional AWD system are much the same as before. However, look at the details and you see plenty of areas where ths car has been refined, honed and improved.
It sticks to Mazda's 'Jinbai-Ittai' idea of car and driver as one harmonious unit, but it also has a new mantra of 'Refined Toughness'. That comes with a promise of a stronger body, quieter engines and better handling. These are important factors in a class packed with talented contenders. Does this Mk2 CX-5 have what it takes to get the upper hand?
Mazda often goes its own way with its cars, but Crossover buyers' demands mean that modern car makers can't stray too far from the mainstream. So, this second generation CX-5 concentrates on honing refinement, handling and comfort. Is it a success? Well, in some ways, yes. This MK2 model CX-5 handles with all of the agility and precision we've come to expect of cars from this Japanese brand and it deals with lumpy roads in a calm, efficient manner. There's also 'G-Vectoring Control' that adjusts the steering assistance depending on hard the car is being driven around a bend. We find it makes the tiller feel a little too light and remote, but the CX is certainly easy to pilot around town or along the motorway.
There are two versions of the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel engine available, offering either 150 or 184PS. Most choose the 150PS model we're looking at here but it can only be had in 2WD form. For AWD, you'll need the 184PS version of this engine. As with the systems employed by most of its rivals, the 184PS 4x4 version of this car has an AWD set-up in which the torque is automatically split according to the terrain you're on, so it can direct 100% of drive to the front wheels in normal conditions, with up to 50% then directed to the rear wheels if slip is detected.
Mazda is a company that revels in its engineering know-how and they're very proud of how this second generation CX-5 has turned out. For starters, the body shell is now fifteen percent stiffer thanks to improved materials and the way they're bonded together. There's also a completely new look for the cabin, so this is a very thorough update for one of this company's cornerstone models.
Inside, the dash is all new and looks classier, topped off by a new eight inch 'floating' infotainment monitor. It has a touchscreen that lets you choose from its features. They include satellite navigation, 'Aha' app and 'Stitcher' that lets you access the internet for radio and social media. In the back, there's more than enough room for adults to stretch out in comfort. You can also recline the backs in two stages for greater comfort on long journeys. The only small shortcoming here is whoever sits in the middle pew has less space for their feet due to the transmission tunnel, but it's hardly a deal breaker and children won't notice this. As for the boot, well this Mazda offers 506-litres of capacity with the rear seats in place. That's a little less than some rivals, but more than enough for most needs.
Mazda has kept the CX-5 line-up very simple in the number of engines it offers and limited the line-up to two trim levels. On first glance that makes it seem as if this car is a little pricier to start with than its key competitors. However, when you compare similarly powerful and well equipped rivals, the Mazda comes out well. Prices for this SKYACTIV-D 150PS CX-5 diesel model start from around £29,000 if you change gear yourself - or there'll be a further £1,500 if you want the auto.
There's a choice of 'SE-L' or plusher 'Sport' trim levels. Even the 'SE-L Nav' variant comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED main beams, daytime running lamps and front fog lights. There's also an 'Adaptive Front Lighting System' that automatically alters the illumination to give you the best vision but without dazzling oncoming vehicles. Heated power fold door mirrors are included, along with parking sensors at the front and back, electric windows all round and an electronic parking brake. Inside, you have an engine start-stop button on the dash, while dual-zone climate control maintains your preferred temperature. The seats are trimmed in black cloth and each of the two chairs in the forward cabin have height adjustment.
There are so many cars in this crossover sector competing for your attention that they cannot afford to be expensive to run. Mazda approaches this in its usual pragmatic way that it sums up in the word 'SKYACTIV'. It applies this all-encompassing thinking to every facet of the CX-5's design and build to make it lighter and more efficient, so that a little bit here and there adds up to a lot overall. To see how this works, let's start by looking at the figures of the 150PS SKYACTIV-D engine being featured here. It manages up to 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and 151g/km of CO2 when ordered in front-driven guise coupled to a six-speed manual 'box. Swap that for the six cog automatic and the figures are 43.5mpg and 171g/km.
As part of the SKYACTIV programme for the CX-5, every model comes with Mazda's 'i-stop' technology that switches off the engine when the car is stopped in traffic. Another part of this package of efficiencies is the 'i-ACTIV All-Wheel Drive' that uses 27 sensors dotted around the car. It knows which corner to send the power to for the best grip and stability, so it doesn't waste energy spinning the tyres in slippery conditions and also helps to preserve forward motion and stability.
The second generation CX-5 addresses almost everything we might have found fault with in the previous model. Mazda has given the styling a sharp look that sets it apart and the cabin is now one of the classiest places to sit in this sector. They've also managed to make the CX-5 even more fun and engaging to drive. It has a strong turbodiesel engine, smooth gearboxes and the sort of handling almost all of its rivals can only dream about.
All of that is capped by the CX-5's generous equipment levels, spacious interior and a level of fit and finish that marks it out as one of the best options in the Qashqai class, especially in this volume 150PS diesel guise. Yes, Mazda does things its own way, but the result is a crossover with huge appeal to a great many buyers.
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