I have a sneaky suspicion that Mazda has been reading the minds of people and enthusiasts as of late. They’ve been making very interesting cars as of late with fresh, emotional designs with added lovable wackiness, and ’tis where the internal combustion engine is wrung till dry. The company had stuck with the rotary combustion engine where other major manufacturers had scrapped the idea long ago and it’s the only company to ever really get it right – and the Miata MX-5.
In 2012, the company discontinued the use of the 1.3-litre RENESIS rotary engine in the RX-8 due to strict emission standards. However, Mazda did not stop there; the Skyactiv-G runs at a phenomenally high compression ratio similar in diesel engines and in Ferraris, while the Skyactiv-D runs at the lowest possible compression ratio a heat engine could run, with both engines delivering impressive fuel economy and low emissions, performance and driving enjoyment.
That said Mazda takes the “Thinking out of the box” metaphor almost quite literally, which the design of the new CX-5 SUV is very much next gen. It carries the updated KODO design language with a much cleaner, yet expressive appearance.
Personally, the part I love the most on the CX-5 is its new facia. The CX-5’s large and wide grille is very much uncanny to the RX-Vision concept car and unusual for a road car, which looks more three-dimensional than the older design.
Emphasising the grille is a chrome garnish that runs across the bottom half of the grille and extending into the compact LED headlamp clusters. Being the mid-range GL as tested, the daytime running lamps are bulb instead of LED in the higher side models.
Unlike the outgoing model, the newer car’s sharper appearance is much more apparent with crease lines on the waistline and above the matte black plastic guards which blends neatly into the car’s body with a minimalistic approach.
The rear combination lamps are a mix of bulb and LEDs, which the former make up the brake and signal repeaters while the latter is only used for reversing in the GL trim.
Like the exterior, the interior has been completely reworked; newly designed dashboard and door inserts boast soft-touch surfaces with solid build quality, the same is said for its switchgear as well, providing good tactile feedback and feels right for a car in this price range. Most of them are located in places where you’d expect them to be.
Instead of placing buttons for the infotainment system on the dashboard, Mazda’s way of doing things can be said to be unique, but brilliant. The MZD Connect Multi-Function Commander Control is located a few inches below the gear selector. Drivers can operate without taking their eyes off the road, which is one of the easiest infotainment systems to operate with tactile feedback from the centre rotary dial, tactile buttons, and clear and simple menus.
Also new is the three-spoke steering wheel, which looks and feels a lot less bulky, while housing more buttons for cruise control, audio and telephony than the old wheel. The new wheel feels better to touch and hold in comparison to the old one.
If you need to shift through the ratios, you can do so via the gear selector – simply tuck it close you and pull down to go up a gear and push up to go down a gear, which is the default sequential gearshift sequence in most racecars and feels natural. In a nutshell, the CX-5 is plenty easy to use and a much nicer place to be in.
Then there’s the dual-zone climate control interface, which both the driver and passenger can choose their own desired temperature, but the rear passengers will have to do with just cool air blowing in their direction from the rear centre console, at least its better than nothing.
The GL trim comes with fabric seats which is something most Malaysians prefer; they’re comfortable and supportive, especially on long distance driving. However, the foam used felt a notch firm, but I reckoned it would be a lot more durable and more likely to keep its original shape in the long run. The seats in the base GL trim as tested are mechanically adjustable.
At the back, the CX-5’s rear seats provide similar comfort levels as the front and sit three with decent amount of head and legroom for taller passengers. The only thing that let the CX-5 down is the centre floor tunnel, which takes up some space from the middle passenger.
The rear seats split 40:20:40 – standard across all models – which is a huge plus when it comes to seating configurations when the need to carry pre-assembled IKEA furniture and passengers arises.
With the rear seats up, the boot space by default stands at 442-litres and folding them down unleashes 1,342-litres. Access to the boot is easy in the CX-5, thanks to a wide-opening tailgate and a retractable parcel shelf that lifts up out of the way when you open it. Also, the shelf can be easily removed when needed.
Audio and Visual comes from the MZD Connect infotainment system with voice command that comes with a 7-inch full colour touchscreen display standing at the top centre of the dashboard. Unlike most touchscreens, the one in the CX-5 is located low enough not to get in the way of the drivers’ line of sight.
There’s an AM/FM tuner, 3.5mm audio auxiliary input jack, CD & MP3 player and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming is available.
Sound reproduction comes from a standard 6-speaker system, which is able to provide above-average performance. The system provides clear and faithful sound with good balance and smoothness at both ends of the sound spectrum. Depending on what’s playing, the speakers provides plenty of punch and expressive at higher volumes, but tends to sound tubby.
Under the hood sits a 2.0-liltre four-cylinder naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G mill churning out 162hp at 6,000 rpm and 210Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, mated to 6-Speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission.
The power band provides easy daily driving, which propels the 1,572kg SUV forward effortlessly with great throttle response when pulling away from the traffic lights or hustling around town, so it feels quicker than it actually is.
That said, Mazda’s “Jinba Ittai” driving concept becomes apparent even when the CX-5 is driven normally; the 6-Speed auto gearbox changes into the next ratio simply by lifting your feet of the throttle off ever so slightly as if you’re driving a manual transmission car, which is super useful when you need to drive frugally on the highway.
As tested, this very drivetrain achieves an impressive 4.9L/100km (20.2 km/l) Combined without any effort needed! Performance wise, the CX-5 is able to go from standstill to a hundred in just 8.6 seconds and runs out of breath at 193 km/h.
The brake system employs ventilated discs in the front and solid discs in the rear. But the former is something that is not seen before on a mass production non-premium SUV; the CX-5 utilises floating brake rotors, similarly used in high-performance vehicles and motorcycles. They are made consisting of two parts, a rotor ring and a centre hat and are connected via a series of pins.
Basically, they are two-piece brake rotors and they enjoy a couple of advantages; these weights lighter, keeps heat away from the wheel bearings, and allowing the rotor ring to expand uniformly. This means that the discs will not warp and distort under heavy braking at high speeds.
The CX-5 is an easy going SUV; there are no visual obstructions within the drivers’ line of sight. That said, with a turning radius of 11 meters, the Mazda SUV doesn’t stray far away when making a tight U-turn and navigating through tight spaces isn’t an issue for an SUV this size.
Suspending the CX-5 off the ground are MacPherson struts at the front and multi-links at the rear. Ride wise the CX-5 rides over bumps, undulations and rough patches without any of them translating back to the occupants, in other words, do expect a plush ride.
When it comes to handling, the CX-5 does it exceptionally well, the body doesn’t roll as much and the suspension damping provides plenty of compliance. Handling balance can be described as neutral, so long the grip of the front tyres are not exceeded.
G-Vectoring Control (GVC) does add up to the CX-5’s agility and stability, like in most new Mazdas, GVC massively contributes to handling precision in corners and on straight roads by finely adjusting the engine’s output.
When pushed to the ragged edge, the CX-5 has a tendency to understeer, but can be easily corrected by taking a step back. The ABS and Stability Control fitted does well in intervening when the situation gets hairy, which does well in helping you get out of sticky situations safely.
There’s plenty of brake-pedal feel that operated without delay and without being too sensitive. The new CX-5 also newly adopts Mazda’s Auto-hold function, which keeps the car stopped even after the driver lifts their foot off the brake pedal.
To conclude, the Mazda CX-5 2.0 GL GVC not only looks great, but also puts the drive more into the equation than most of its rivals; better yet, keeping carsickness at bay. The interior is roomy and well put together with plenty of useful cubbies. The engine is able to provide frugal fuel consumption and it is able to provide response, performance and safety for the daily commute and the weekend drive.
If you do opt for one, the Mazda CX-5 2.0 GL GVC comes with 5 Years Manufacturer Warranty or 100,000KM whichever comes first and 3 Years Free Maintenance or 60,000KM whichever comes first.
+ Comfortable ride
+ Premium atmosphere
+ Solid build quality
+ Unfussy infotainment system
+ Powerful audio system
+ Easy to drive
+ Frugal fuel consumption
+ Floating brake rotors
Mazda CX-5 2.0 GL GVC Metallic (CKD)
Price Msia: RM135,665.50 OTR w/o insurance
Engine: 1,998 cc in-line four-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 4.9 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic