The Mazda CX-5 facelift made its debut in February this year with a significant upgrade in equipment for the 2.5-litre variant, which was previously offered in as either fully-imported (CBU) or locally-assembled (CKD).
Now there’s only the CKD CX-5 but many of the features once available solely in the fully-imported version have been added to the updated model with the price slashed by around RM10,000. The nine-speaker Bose system and sunroof have been omitted but taking the cost savings into account, the loss shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.
|Name||Mazda CX-5 2.5L (2WD)||Mazda CX-5 2.5L (AWD)|
|Engine||2,488cc; DOHC, direct injection|
|Max Power||185 hp @ 5,700 rpm|
|Max Torque||250 Nm @ 3,250 rpm|
|Price (OTR with GST & Insurance)||RM159,415.90||RM171,219.05|
The rest of the changes to the exterior has primarily been to the lamps to improve illumination and visibility. The auto levelling headlights have been upgraded from bi-xenon to LED while the light combination in the LED tail lamps have been reworked and now have a concentric lamp configuration. There are also new LED foglights and the rims have grown to 19-inches, giving the SUV a more athletic side profile.
The CX-5 looked solid and well-built inside. The doors closed with a beefy “clonk”. The CX-5’s all-black cabin isn’t luxurious but it’s practical and has a tastefully premium air: leather upholstery, leather steering wheel, soft touch plastics, and burnished metal highlights. There’s a German-feel to it which comes from the MZD Connect system. Conveniences like infotainment, now with GPS installed as standard, Bluetooth, and car settings are accessed on a scroller by the gear selector and displayed on the seven-inch touchscreen monitor in the middle of the dashboard.
Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat was straightforward as the electrically powered seat and steering column had multiple angles of adjustment for just the right height, reach and line-of-sight. The instrument panel was uncluttered but there was a lot of driving information available by scrolling through the menu. Good for drivers who like to know what’s going on with their performance.
The CX-5 is an SUV the driver would enjoy more than the rear seat passengers who may find the cabin tight because of the limited leg room and the feeling of a low seating position created by the high door sills. The lack of rear air vents, unexpected in a vehicle of this size, adds to the impression although the output from the four vents in front made a reasonable effort to keep air well circulated without excessive blower noise.
There were no changes to the engine specs but Sport mode has been added, a toggle switch by the the gear lever. Although there was no discernible stiffening in suspension set-up – but then again, the CX-5 wasn’t prone to lolling on corners in the first place – the gearbox and engine reactions altered immediately, making it even easier to get past other cars or climb steep slopes. Staying in third and fourth gear longer provided push but also meant the usually well muted engine became noticeably louder and consumption was also higher.
Fortunately, Sport was not something the CX-5 needed often. In normal mode, which I preferred during the test drive, it was quick and responsiveness in everyday traffic conditions, giving polished yet lively driving experience without draining the petrol tank prematurely.
The CX-5 was a lot more European in its drive and handling than expected from its right hand-side indicator. Pottering round the Klang Valley, the AWD skimmed over poorly-tarred town roads and cornered with the firm suspension and limited body roll of a Continental saloon yet the ride was comfortably cushioned for passengers, despite the 19-inch rims.
On the highway at high speed, there was no body shake or rattle to throw off the handling of the car. The car felt light but because the steering retained its accuracy over speed changes, it maintained a feeling of tight control while cornering.
The CX-5’s i-Activ four wheel drive is an always-on, on-demand system that only activates if the sensors detect a loss of traction at any one of the wheels. There was no indicator to show when the car was operating in two-wheel or four-wheel drive mode and it didn’t make its presence felt but that is not to say that it wasn’t triggered or how frequently: road conditions are scanned 200 times a second with split second reacts.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
If masculine looks and a stiffer suspension are a priority then the CX-5 is certainly worth keeping in mind. Of the SUVs in its class, it has the most rugged lines and also drives and handles more sportily than its rivals in a segment which is primarily about family comfort. Safety specs are reasonably high with passive features like ISOFIX for the child seats and six airbags, ABS, electronic brake force distribution and traction control all there so there’s family welfare factored into the sporty style.
This is a segment full of worthy four-wheel drive competitors but there’s no outright “winner” because with each one, there are a few plus and minuses. It comes down to what one can live with or is an absolute deal-breaker. The Honda CR-V has the most generous rear legroom and the through floor from not having a driveshaft hump, makes it a lot easier for back seat passengers to get in and out of the car. Long items can also be laid across the floor flat. Both the Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V have rear air vents.
Despite having a longer wheelbase, the CX-5 is more compact inside with the least legroom and the smallest cargo space of the three, just 403 litres compared to 589 litres in the CR-V and 550 litres in the X-Trail. However, the 40:20:40 split folding configuration of the CX-5 is the most versatile when more boot space is needed. The X-Trail is the only one of the trio to offer third row seats, complete with three-point seat belts, which is very helpful if occasionally there are more than five in the car. The CR-V’s folding seats can be operated justing just one hand.
The CR-V has the most car-like driving dynamics. Both the CR-V and CX-5 have electronically-controlled 4WD, unlike the the X-Trail which has a low gear transfer case so it is a proper off-roader.
For safety equipment, Honda’s Land Watch gives it an edge over the two. The Nissan has an excellent 360-degree camera which offers a better field of vision than the standard rear view cameras in the Honda and the Mazda.
|Mazda CX-5 2.5L AWD||Honda CR-V 2.4 i-VTEC||Nissan X-Trail 2.4 AWD|
|Type||4-cylinder petrol naturally-aspirated||4-cylinder petrol naturally-aspirated||4-cylinder petrol naturally-aspirated|
|Type||Electric Power-Steering||Electric Power-Steering||Electric Power-Steering|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic||5-speed automatic||7-speed, CVT|
|Type||MacPherson struts/ Multi-link||MacPherson Strut/Double Wishbone||MacPherson struts/ Multi-link|
|Front||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc|
|Rear||Solid disc||Solid disc||Ventilated disc|
|TYRE & WHEELS|
|Tyres||225/55 R19||225/60 R18||225/65 R17|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT|
|Max Kerb weight||kg||1611||1560||1612|
|Luggage Capacity (VDA)||L||403||589||550|
|PRICE (without insurance||RM||171,219.05||RM167,620.08||RM165,800|
WOULD I BUY IT?
Security is an important aspect when driving and the lack of auto-lock was a source of concern. The location and design of the lock made it difficult to tell if the doors were locked or not, especially as when unlocked, it was not just the driver’s door but all the doors. This may be a small point with most drivers but this is a make-or-break element for me.
Matthew’s take: The CX-5’s 2.5-litre motor is butter smooth and is effortlessly linear. Between the two, I’d pick the 2WD variant for two reasons: it weighs 62kg less (which saves slightly more fuel), and I don’t do a lot of off-roading to justify the need for a four-wheel drive system. The facelift doesn’t just breathe new life into the ageing model, it imbues the SUV with a more distinct identity and better road presence as well. There’s not a lot to lose if you choose the CX-5 over its rivals, but the question becomes, would you drop the 2.5-litre variant for the torquier 2.2L Skyactiv-D?