Review: 2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5L Turbo – More than just the best bang for buck SUV

With its right indicators on, the Mazda CX-5 piloted by yours truly was politely beckoning the W204 C200 in front to give way. Instead of giving way, the German sedan started to accelerate only to give up after a few minutes when the driver realized that he couldn’t reduce the size of this ubiquitous SUV in his rear view mirror. 

Quick Facts
NameMazda CX-5 2.5G Turbo 4WD High
Engine2,488cc; 4-cylinder turbo 
Transmission6-speed automatic
Max Power228 hp @ 5,000rpm 
Max Torque420Nm @ 2,000rpm
Price (OTR w/o Insurance)RM181,770.40

No matter, because the only tell tale sign that this isn’t just any SUV is the “small red T” on the tailgate. Launched in October 2019, the flagship model of the popular CX-5 range looks almost identical to its lower-priced and powered siblings. It even has the same wheels as the previous flagship, the 2.2L diesel variant.

There’s no go-faster bits in terms of aesthetics when it comes to this RM181k SUV. If you are a person who prefers to arrive earlier than to announce your arrival, read on. 

The looks of the second generation CX-5 needs no alteration. Even after two years on, it’s still every bit the eye turner especially when it’s coming from the other side of the road.

Its flat, crease-free bonnet supported by a pair of well-defined headlights gives the car a steely gaze to contrast that curvaceous bodywork.

The same premium classy feel can be said of the interior as well. Wherever plastic panels and trims are expected to be, it’s instead lined with supple leather – lending the interior an air of “premiumness”.

Taking prominence in the instrument cluster is a circular screen that emulates the style of a needle-type speedometer – displaying drive information without any over-the-top graphics and colours. Again, classiness done right. 

The car also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. It doesn’t integrate as well into the MZD Connect system like BMW’s Operating System 7.0, but the physical knobs and buttons by the gear lever does offset the minor inconvenience.

Things are not so rosy at the back. While the seats are supportive enough, it lags behind the recently launched Subaru Forester in terms of legroom, headroom, shoulder room, and USB ports.

For those with two child seats to install along with an arsenal of devices to keep the peace in the second row would understand the importance of the features mentioned above.

At 442 litres, boot space was more than sufficient. The retractable tonneau cover that latches to the tailgate is a nice touch. It saves you the trouble of operating the cover every time you retrieve something from the boot. The levers on both sides of the boot to flatten the second row were pretty handy too. 

The charm of this turbocharged CX-5 lies in the drive. With a 2.5-liter turbocharged mill powering it along, swift is an understatement. Encounter(s) with entry-level German sedans notwithstanding, this Japanese SUV is an exemplary highway cruiser. 

Of the driving modes, normal suits the car’s character better, there’s no need for that extra eager throttle pedal in Sports mode.

That said, prod the throttle ever so firmly with your right foot and the car will surge ahead with respectable urgency that one would associate with the well-sorted naturally-aspirated mill of yesteryear. 

A review about any Mazda would not be complete without the mentioning its rather excellent GVC system. In this instance, it’s the more advanced GVC+ system that also adds the use of brakes in the equation.

While this writer’s rear end is not sensitive enough to tell the difference between the both, but suffice to say one could care even less about their hands and right foot coordination when it comes to cornering, the electronics will take care of it. The assurance of AWD is of course the cherry atop the GVC+ cake. 

With an output of 228hp at a sub-200k price, the Mazda CX-5 2.5G Turbo 4WD High (yeap that’s the full name) is the SUV that offers the most kudas for the buck in its class; although Mazda did not advertise it as such.

Add superior driving dynamics into the mix and it’s an even more attractive package. The closest competitor is the Toyota Harrier and that’s at least RM60k dearer. 

Sure it could do with more toys like adaptive cruise control which is offered by its competitors. Fuel consumption is not great too, but that’s like saying binging on Netflix is too time consuming.

In a segment filled with capable contenders, this range update is a timely one. The addition of the CX-5 2.5L Turbo variant in the local line-up ensures that this Hiroshima-based car maker stays ahead of the pack, literally and figuratively. And that’s not too bad for the SUV buyers looking for a fast SUV with superior driving dynamics, isn’t it?

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