MAZDA may have given the rest of the pack a good head start, but genuine class is always an advantage and can work wonders, so it will be very interesting to see how their product fares.
The eye-catching CX-5 compact SUV from Mazda is a fair piece of machinery, offering an alluring mix of good driving, excellent running costs in terms of economy and annual road tax, and then there is a good kit to boot.
However, strong opponents and fine motors like the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai iX35 are a fair distance up the sales road already, so Mazda have a bit of work to do to even get into the starting blocks before scraping a portion of a growing compact SUV segment here.
With families as the target market, Mazda, it would appear, worked on the economics of ownership in the first instance but issues like the drive of the CX-5, interior space, weight reduction and creature comforts were certainly not neglected.
The CX-5 range is five strong, with one petrol engine (2.0) among the pack. The diesels are most interesting; with the strong punching 2.2-litre units (150ps) producing C02 emissions of just 119g/km that slots what is a big, wide bodied and spacious car into the €160 motor tax bracket.
That is a super mini and city cars like figure, which is some going for a vehicle that stands tall and imposing at 1.7 metres. Mazda are also quoting a fuel economy figure over 60mpg (4.6 l/100kms). Nice going, very nice going, Mr Mazda!
Manual and automatic
The CX-5 is available in 2 or 4-wheel drive format with a choice of transmissions, a six speed manual or a six speed automatic. Prices here begin at €25,195 (ex-works) for the 2.0-litre petrol, but the expected bigger selling diesel prices start at €28,245 (ex-works).
The CX-5 is the first product to feature Mazda’s innovative SkyActiv Technology, which also includes direct injection and twin-stroll turbochargers, and brings motor sport like mechanics into mainstream motoring.
What it all adds up to for you and me behind the steering wheel is a smashing – and I use that word deliberately – drive from a commanding, ‘see everything’ driving position. The diesels are among the smoothest and most refined in the segment, and with a steering wheel that is light and responsive the overall drive has a lot to recommend it.
The slick, short throw gearshift and handbrake are high mounted, very close to hand for the driver. In the case of the former I found it a revelation that it added so much to the ease and pleasure of the drive.
Small things make difference
It is amazing the simple things that can make a difference at times.
There are hints of BMW to the body shape and style of the CX-5, and the striking combination of height, size and shape garner plenty of admiring glances. The front end is very imposing, almost straight up, with the Mazda badge all but protruding at the outermost tip. Whatever, the look works.
The interior is above all large and accommodating, neatly laid out and packed with equipment, with touch screen navigation system part of the kit on my car. The amount of head, leg and elbow room all round, but especially in the rear, is top of the class.
The boot (503 litres) is very accommodating. The rear seats fold completely flat, operated by one switch in the boot if you require more load carrying room. Here Mazda have another neat idea, a boot cover that doubles as a window blind attached to the rear window.
It can be unhooked, but it never gets in the way when you open the rear door.
The CX-5 comes with a long list of features, and it is the first non-premium SUV in the class to offer as standard Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) that helps prevent low speed frontal collisions.
Mazda CX-5 2.2D 2WD from 28,245 (ex-works).
Engine: 2191cc, in line four cylinders, 16-valve diesel, 150ps at 4,500rpm, 380Nm of torque from 1,800rpm.
Top speed: 202kph (FWD), 197kph (AWD); 0 to 100kph in 9.2 seconds (FWD).
Top end fuel consumption: 4.6l/100kms (61.4mpg).
CO2 emission: 119g/km.
Annual road tax: €160 euro.