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What is it?

CX-5 is the best selling SUV in the country.

There’s now 14 models of the five-seater, two and four-wheel drive and four engine options from which to choose.

This one is the sporty GT with a turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine that was introduced late last year.

It produces more power and almost as much torque as the diesel, but of course you pay a penalty for this performance in terms of fuel consumption.

Is it worth it?

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What’s it cost?

CX-5 prices start at $29,770 for the 2.0-litre petrol Maxx, followed by the Maxx Sport at $35,590, Touring at $40,280, GT at $45,390, GT Turbo at $47,890, Akera at $47,630, and Akera Turbo at $50,130.

Maxx is a manual (auto adds $2000) and the first two are also front-wheel drive, while the rest come with a 6-speed auto and are all-wheel drive — the diesel, in Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and Akera guise, carries a $3000 premium.

CX-5 has a five-star crash rating, with six airbags and auto emergency braking (AEB).

Safety kit includes Smart Brake Support (SBS), Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), Driver Attention Alert (DAA), High Beam Control (HBC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane-keep Assist System (LAS).

Our test vehicle was the GT Turbo, priced from $47,890.

Standard equipment for the GT includes leather and climate air, a sunroof, 19-inch alloys with 225/55 rubber, auto lights and wipers, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

There’s also front and rear parking sensors, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition (TSR),  adaptive front-lighting system (AFS), power sliding and tilt-glass sunroof, and a remote-operated power tailgate.

The heated front seats have 2-position memory (driver), 6-way power adjustment (passenger), 10-way power adjustment (driver).

Rounding out the list is 249-watt, 10-speaker Bose audio, with satellite navigation, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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What’s it go like?

Initially, one of the major criticisms of CX-5 related to the lack-lustre performance of the 2.0-litre petrol engine.

Since then a larger 2.5-litre petrol engine has been introduced, negating most of these comments and now a turbocharged version puts the bogey to be bed once and for all.

Or, for those that travel long distances, there’s always the frugal 2.2-litre turbo diesel — but you pay a hefty $3000 premium to sip from this cup.

A mate of mine has just purchased the Touring model with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated engine. He previously owned a Mazda6 sedan.

He likes the CX-5 and Touring is pretty well equipped, but feels it could do with a bit more power. His wife, who stands just 152cm tall, would like something a little closer to the ground, something a little easier to get in and out of (not sure how the Japanese manage in this respect).

The 2.5 produces 140kW of power and 252Nm of torque, the latter from 4000 revs.

Compare this to the turbocharged version which kicks out 170kW and 420Nm of torque, the latter from 2000 revs.

The big difference is in the torque, especially the fact the turbo delivers its torque at half the revs, making it more accessible and sooner.

Torque is the stuff that makes V8s and electric cars so much fun to drive.

The more torque the quicker a car is out of the gates — and in the case of our GT Turbo it does the 0-100km/h dash in a respectable 7.7 seconds.

The turbocharged engine is paired with a 6-speed auto, with auto stop-start, but the turbo model misses out on the cylinder deactivation found in Touring that further reduces fuel consumption.

Style-wise Mazda continues to make subtle to changes to the exterior design and CX-5 is looking more rounded and classier than ever these days.

The cabin is finished to a high standard, with a dash dominated by a 7.0-inch free standing infotainment screen, controlled from a large rotary knob rather than touch, with direct access buttons for the most used functions (Mazda was one of the first to adopt such a screen).

Getting into the car for the first time we felt the seats were a little short and cramped, but smaller drivers may not share this opinion.

The climate air conditioning has two zones, with rear air outlets to keep back seat passengers happy.

Given the GT’s sporty persona, we were surprised at the absence of gear change paddles, but you’re able to change gears manually using the gear lever.

There’s also sport mode, but no off road options (because no one takes these vehicles off road).

Also missing is a digital speedo, but fortunately the white on black analogue speedo is clear and easy to read.

Performance is smooth and punchy, with little hesitation and plenty of power in reserve for overtaking.

It gets around corners flat and fast, with grippy 19-inch 225/55 profile rubber, plus assistance from all-wheel drive and torque vectoring to keep things tidy.

The steering is communicative and the brakes bite hard.

No complaints here.

The 58-litre tank takes standard 91 unleaded.

Rated at 8.2L/100km, our test car was showing long term fuel consumption of 9.6L/100km after mainly easy driving — a little disappointing.

But I guess that’s the price you pay for performance?

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What we like?

  • Good size
  • Responsive engine
  • Well equipped
  • Plenty of boot space

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What we don’t like?

  • Hard to fault
  • Seats a little small
  • No gear change paddles
  • Uses too much fuel

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The bottom line?

Mazda has in many ways beaten Toyota at its own game. The CX-5 is a car with few flaws, certainly none that would offend the average buyer. Perhaps in this context our test vehicle was fittingly painted white?

CHECKOUT: CX-5: price cuts and more power for diesel

CHECKOUT: The car Goldilocks would have driven

 

Mazda CX-5 GT Turbo, priced from $47,890
  • 8/10
    Looks - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Thirst - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Practicality - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
7.8/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.