Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Compact SUV with a soul

ANY brand new model’s first year of sales is its most difficult time in an unforgiving global car market. I

ANY brand new model’s first year of sales is its most difficult time in an unforgiving global car market. I imagine that everyone — from designers to salesmen — wait in agonised anticipation of whether their “baby” is a hit or not.

Well in the case of the Mazda CX-5 I think the Japanese carmaker can heave a sigh of relief. The signs are that this brand new SUV has been well received. Certainly, since I drove the new Mazda CX-5 soon after launch I have read good things about it and I found a second drive this week far from disappointing.

Launched in 2012 as an all-new compact SUV, the CX-5 is the first model to feature the complete range of Mazda’s new ultra-efficient lightweight SKYACTIV technology. SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmissions help drivers by preventing unwanted downshifts. The technical stuff also initiates faster downshifts when more torque is desired.

This does help drivers because nothing is more annoying when driving an automatic than if the transmission decides to change up or down a gear when you least want it to.

The CX-5’s engines, meanwhile, are now more free-revving thanks to an “enhanced power train control module”. The tachometers (rev-counters) have been updated accordingly with higher redlines, which basically means that the engine management is more attuned to drivers’ needs as they drive up hill and down dale.

Mazda has indeed put a lot of work into producing the CX-5 because the carmaker knew it would be a defining moment for its production success. The CX-5’s arrival on the market was a “watershed moment for Mazda”. It had embarked (design-wise) on a policy of turning out its cars equipped with the “head-turning new KODO Soul of Motion Design”.

And as I reported after that first drive, I still find the design lines of the CX-5 smooth and easy on the eye. The design gives the car an authoritative attitude on the road and holds its own against much bigger 4x4s. These less up-to-the-minute models, fast trying to catch up with the desirability factor now present in most compact SUVs, have dominated road space. The CX-5 makes them look tired by comparison.

My rear seat passengers again reported a comfortable and roomy ambience and indeed the feeling inside the cabin in general is one of useful and welcome space.But what about others’ views of this new car?

The Mazda CX-5 was selected by Total 4x4 magazine as winner of the monthly publication’s ‘4x4 of the Year Green Award’ based on a continuous testing programme throughout 2012. What Car? named the CX-5 as Britain’s ‘Best Buy’ SUV in the under £25,000 category. Explaining its selection of the £22,995, 2.2-litre, 150ps diesel CX-5 as a class winner, the latest ‘Awards 2013’ edition of the publication states: “This really is one of the finest diesels you can buy. It has walloping low-down torque, yet is supremely flexible and happy to rev.”

And there is more. The CX-5 was named the 2012-2013 Car of the Year Japan. In approximately nine months since sales of the CX-5 started, Mazda received 37,000 orders in Japan, and more than 128,000 globally. The Mazda CX-5 model range features an 18-strong line-up with prices starting from £21,395 and rising to £28,995 (on the road).

There is a choice of three engines (165ps petrol and 150ps or 175ps diesel), manual and automatic transmissions, two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD) and two equipment levels — SE-L and Sport, with or without Sat-Nav.

The Mazda CX-5 SE-L models come with 17in alloy wheels, front fog lights, dual zone climate control air-conditioning, Smart City Brake Support and privacy glass, plus front and rear parking sensors.

Sport grade models are equipped with 19in alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting System, full leather trim, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat and a reversing camera.

If the colour of your car is important then why not go for Soul Red? This colour, introduced on the new Mazda6, will soon be available for the CX-5, too. It was “specially developed using a unique process”, combining two different base coats, resulting in a deep, intensive red that seems to radiate from within when lit up, thus emphasising the compact SUV’s stunning lines.

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