Get behind the wheel of Mazda’s big selling SUV and you will either be content or disappointed.
Content because it is a traditional car with traditional three dial driver’s binnacle and traditional easy to use heating controls. Then again you might be disappointed at not having a high tech TV style wide screen dashboard display as seen in the ultra modern Kia Sportage featured a few weeks ago.
Oh, and something else, there is no hybrid option.
Don’t be too quick to write off the 2022 CX-5 as old hat because it still has loads to offer. Mazda has built its reputation on cars with a sporty bite and that is the case with CX-5, arguably the best handling SUV in its class and upgrades to the suspension have made it even better so it is comfortable and rewarding when you put your foot down.
It has also had some cosmetic treatment to the front, nothing too dramatic, just a few nips and tucks to keep things fresh.
So where do I sit on the dashboard layout? It is hardly classic car dials and switches, in fact it has a bang up to date 10.2in central screen for radio, navigation and such like, and even better, it is not a touchscreen. Mazda is sticking with the rotary controller between the seats which is the easiest system I have come across…. ever.
It is dated compared to the Sportage which, incidentally, I did like, but so much easier to use than the complex Volvo XC40 infotainment centre. Thank heavens for the Swede’s brilliant voice control technology which is better than the Mazda.
So many cars have a binnacle with full screen mapping and computer generated everything so it is comforting to be faced with standard, clear dials. There is all the information needed along with Mazda’s excellent head up display with speed, rudimentary navigation instructions and the surface speed limit.
Engine choice is 2-litre petrol, 2.2 litre diesel and the 2.5 litre petrol which I used for towing. In its class CX-5 has one of the best towing capacities now that key competitors like Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav-4 have gone hybrid.
I expected the powerful all wheel drive Mazda to guzzle gas like no tomorrow with a caravan on the back but no, it returned a creditable 24mpg matching the hybrid Kia Sportage. Granted, consumption takes a tumble against the hybrids driving solo, dipping to low thirties, although I surprised myself returning 41mpg on a 90 mile Sunday stroll.
As a family car CX-5 ticks most of the boxes with plenty of space, ample legroom front and back and a good sized boot with levers in the side walls to drop the 40-20-40 back seat configuration.
Mazda has been pushing to break into the premium market and in my book has made it. CX-5 is a good example with quality trim and fittings right through the car. It is well off for safety features and generally well equipped. At the top end GT Sport lacks for nothing with 360 degree camera heated and ventilated front seats and heated outer rear seats, navigation, Apple Carplay and Android auto connections among the highlights.
CX-5 with its high engine emissions will struggle against hybrid rivals on some running costs and, in particular, as a company car where tax breaks favour the hybrids. Yet there is still something appealing about the Mazda, a bit like pulling on your favourite pair of slippers, all very comforting.
There is nothing that can’t sort out CX-5 than a hybrid engine to match its rivals. Doubt that can happen without a total rebuild but there is a hybrid on the horizon. CX-60 plug in hybrid is due in the autumn but it is bigger and more expensive so, Mazda, more hybrids please.
What the wife said….
It was good to get into a car and not need a degree in computer studies to tune the radio or operate the heating. Towed the caravan a treat!
CX-5 GT Sport AWD
£37,905 (Range starts £29,245)
2.5 litre petrol 6sp auto 190bhp
0-62mph 9.3secs; 122mph
182g/km. 1st tax £945
Boot: 522-1395 litres
Insurance group 26
Towing capacity 2000kg