by Brad Leach - 27/02/13
Spectacular sales in its first 12 months have not slowed Mazda’s development of the CX-5 medium SUV. Now Mazda has boosted the CX-5 with launch of a new, more powerful 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which beats similarly-powered rivals for performance and fuel economy.
Mazda expects the updates will ensure the CX-5 continues to capture 20 per-cent of sales in its segment, despite the arrival of significant new models – that would be Toyota’s just-launched all-new RAV4 and, upcoming, Ford’s all-new Kuga and Nissan’s all-new X-TRAIL to name just three.
Australians bought almost 16,000 Mazda CX-5s in just 10 months of sales last year despite the diesel-powered models (roughly 30 per-cent of sales) being in tight supply due to worldwide popularity.
In fact, dating back to the launch of the first Mazda Tribute back in 2001, and followed by CX-7, CX-9 and now CX-5, SUVs have played a major role in Mazda’s phenomenal sales growth which saw the Japanese brand round-out 2012 as the third best-selling brand in Australia (behind only Toyota and Holden) and the first importer to sell more than 100,000 vehicles in a calendar year.
Mazda expects to sell around 108,000 vehicles in Australia this year.
Mazda CX-5’s current 2.0-litre petrol engine (improved for better acceleration) is retained but is exclusively front-wheel-drive (FWD) in entry-grade Maxx (six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission) and mid-grade Maxx Sport (six-speed automatic only).
The new 2.5-litre powerplant is available only in all-wheel-drive (AWD), six-speed automatic and in the full model range – Maxx, Maxx Sport, Grand Touring and the new range-topping ‘Akera’ (Japanese for ‘intelligent’ or ‘clever’). Akera replaces the previous Grand Touring with the optional ‘Tech Pack’ so it adds Blind Spot Monitoring system (BSM), Lane Departure Warning system (LDW) and High-Beam Control system (HBC).
There’s also some new colours – ‘Jet Black Mica’, ‘Meteor Grey Mica’ and the new-technology ‘Soul Red Metallic’ which debuted in the all-new Mazda6.
Best of all, the new 2.5-litre Mazda CX-5 models are priced just $500 more than the equivalent 2.0-litre AWD models they replace. So here’s how the updated 2013 Mazda CX-5 range looks:
Maxx 2.0l petrol FWD manual $27,880
Maxx 2.0l petrol FWD automatic $29,880
Maxx 2.5l petrol AWD automatic $32,880
Maxx Sport 2.0l petrol FWD automatic $33,620
Maxx Sport 2.5l petrol AWD automatic $36,620
Maxx Sport 2.2l diesel AWD automatic $39,470
Grand Touring 2.5l petrol AWD automatic $43,780
Grand Touring 2.2l diesel AWD automatic $46,630
Akera 2.5l petrol AWD automatic $45,770
Akera 2.2l diesel AWD automatic $48,620
Mazda CX-5’s new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is from Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G family. That means direct fuel-injection and a high 13:1 compression ratio.
Maximum power is 138kW at 5700rpm and peak torque of 250Nm at 4000rpm. Drive is via Mazda’s six-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of fuel consumption, Mazda is claiming best-in-class for the new 2.5-litre with 7.4l//100kms (combined cycle).
For the front-drive 2.0-litre models (114kW/200Nm), changes to the engine and transmission management systems have delivered better acceleration with zero to 100km/h now rated at 9.1 seconds (down from 9.5). Combined cycle fuel consumption is as low as 6.4l/100kms (six-speed manual).
No changes for the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with its SKYACTIVE-D common-rail direct injection engine which boasts the world’s lowest compression ratio of 14:1. Maximum power is 129kW at 4500rpm and peak torque of 420Nm is delivered at 2000rpm. Mazda CX-5 diesel delivers combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.7l/100kms.
All Mazda CX-5 models provide a towing capacity of 1800kgs (braked trailer) or 750kgs (unbraked).
No changes to the interior (hey the CX-5 is less than 12 months old!) but Mazda has introduced improved functionality for the Bluetooth system with extra information now displayed on the centre-stack screen.
As we know, the Mazda CX-5 presents a top-shelf interior boasting contemporary style and upscale materials in all models. The conventional three-gauge instruments are housed in a compact curved binnacle and the sporty three-spoke steering wheel is sized just-right with rake/reach adjustment providing a great driving position.
Grand Touring and Akera models gain very nicely-finished leather seats (heated fronts and eight-way power adjustment for the driver), a glass sunroof and the nine-speaker premium Bose audio system.
Rear seat legroom is substantial but perhaps just shy of Toyota’s just-launched all-new RAV4.
And out-back luggage space is particularly impressive – 1560-litres with the three-piece rear seat folded flat or 403-litres with the seat in-place.
Again no changes outside. Mazda CX-5 is without doubt some of Mazda’s finest styling work (the ‘KODO’ – Soul Of Motion theme).
The front is the latest Mazda corporate look (now also seen in the all-new Mazda6) with the ‘wing’ grille and of course the sides get the wonderful curves and sculpture lines which contribute significantly to the CX-5’s contemporary and aerodynamic looks.
Mazda CX-5 Maxx and Maxx Sport models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels while Grand Touring and Akera versions step-up to handsome 19-inch alloys.
Brisbane and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast have copped some rain this summer and the Mazda CX-5 media drive coincided with another onslaught of cyclonic proportions. At one stage SES workers directed us around a flooded section of roadway and most of the day the CX-5’s wipers were locked onto high-speed.
Nevertheless CarShowroom sampled the new 2.5-litre engine in both Maxx Sport and Grand Touring model grades.
We’ll have to wait until we test the latest CX-5 as part of our regular road tests to get a full evaluation of the ride/handling (we were struggling just to see where we were going today!) but there’s no doubt the more powerful petrol engine makes a huge difference to the CX-5’s dynamics.
That was apparent when we tackled the first steep ascent on the road to Maleny – the Mazda CX-5 2.5 providing noticeably sturdier acceleration and response than the 2.0-litre.
Ovetaking? Yep the 2.5-litre responded crisply when asked with snappy cog-swaps in the six-speed auto and strong acceleration.
Road noise? Well the engine noise was drowned-out by our ‘bow-waves’ for most of the day but we didn’t detect any diminishing of Mazda CX-5’s hallmark refinement.
Very hard to criticise the Mazda CX-5 2.5 but if pushed we’d just mention paddle-shifters for the automatic transmission would be nice
Friends of ours couldn’t wait for the Mazda CX-5 in 2.5-litre form (the arrival of twin baby boys required an instant size-up in their vehicle!) and were among the nearly 16,000 Aussies who bought CX-5’s last year. They love it, have no complaints about performance and are impressed by its miserly fuel consumption (well their previous car was a Subaru Impreza WRX).
In fact Mazda says the only criticisms they received about the CX-5 2.0-litre’s performance was from us – the automotive media.
That being said, even after a day when our CX-5s more closely resembled powerboats than SUVs, we reckon the CX-5 2.5 is the one we’d buy.
And buy it we would. By any measure - value-for-money, equipment, looks, driving dynamics, practicality - the Mazda CX-5 remains the benchmark medium ‘soft-roader’ SUV.
Toyota has done a cracking job with the all-new RAV and the pricing is pin-sharp. If off-road action is your go, the RAV has extra ability over the Mazda CX-5 in that department.
Kia Sportage is in the mix. We love the looks but you need the 130kW/227Nm 2.4-litre engine to keep pace with Mazda CX-5’s 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre and for that Kia’s starting price is $32,990.
Hyundai’s ix35 might be tad short on interior space compared to the CX-5 and like the Sportage, 2.4-litre power starts at $32,490.
Ford Kuga and Nissan X-TRAIL both have all-new models on the horizon.
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