It looks so darn goodPart of the CX-5's appeal is the way it looks. As of late Mazda design has been really on point with a mix of neat lines, sharp angles and good proportions doing there bit to create some really handsome cars. The CX-5 follows this recipe, with chunky wheel arches and a high ride height it looks every bit the safe SUV buyers crave while still sporting a low car like roof and waist height crease to disguise any slab sidedness. A nice set of alloys really finish the CX-5 off but unfortunately the car I drove rode on steels.
How does it drive?One thing those steelies are good for though is a supple ride, the car soaking up Melbourne's bumps and tram tracks admirably. And once out of the city you quickly learn of another reason why the CX-5 is so popular, the way it drives. The chassis, steering and suspension turn from compliant in the city to rewarding and informative on a back road, the CX-5 communicates with it's driver, never feeling vague. It felt reassuring behind the wheel, almost egging me on to explore the limits off the tires adhesion.
The only dynamic let down I had with this CX-5 Maxx was it's power train. A 114kw 2 litre engine resides upfront and honestly it felt underpowered and when mated to the 6 speed auto was a little rev happy under hard acceleration and uphill sections. Being a petrol head of course I am bias towards a nice manual but in this case I really felt that if I was fully in charge of those meagre 114kw I might have had even more fun driving it. And while it revved its little head off I couldn't help think that riding a wave of boost would make it an even more pleasurable experience, I understand Mazda's idea behind Skyactiv technology but does a little SUV like the CX-5 really need to be naturally aspirated? Personally I think the lack of power and subsequent engine noise detracts from an otherwise superb driving experience. Volkswagen's Tiguan for comparison is a good example of the turbo way of thinking at this sub $30,000 price point. It's also worth pointing out though that if you have your heart set on a manual this 2 litre Maxx trim level is the only CX-5 Mazda will sell you with a gear stick and clutch pedal. Economy wise after a day in city traffic, on the highway and in the country side I'd averaged 9.6l/100km a little off Mazda's quoted 6.4l/100km, although given more time with the car I'm sure I could have got closer to that figure.