By Steve Berry
IF you like your mid-sized SUVs to feel sporty as well as spacious then you need to look at the new Mazda CX-5.
Similar in size to the previous model what you will find with the new CX-5 is much-improved in virtually every other aspect.
The quality of materials as well as fit and finish is compatible with Volkswagen and the on-board tech is now brought bang up to date.
But what sets this Mazda CX-5 apart from rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008 is the way it drives.
The 4-cylinder 2.2 diesel unit has 150PS available, or 175PS if you really feel the need for more towing-torque.
There is also a 4-cylinder petrol unit with 165PS on-tap. Only the diesels are available with AWD or auto gearboxes and the 175PS version is strictly AWD-only.
If engine choice is simple, then trim-level is even more so. There are just two – SE-L Nav (starting at £23,995 OTR) and Sport Nav (starting at £26,995 OTR).
The new Mazda CX-5 looks sleeker than before thanks to that wide front grille and swept-back LED headlights.
Inside is much improved when it comes to quality of fit and finish and even in the SE-L Nav model you will feel you are in a classy car.
The sweeping dash looks great with a double-stitched faux-leather top which adds to the feel of luxury, as does the leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel (heated on the Sport Nav model) and the leather gearstick and gaiter.
The new CX-5 carries over the infotainment system from the previous model but now the 7in screen is mounted atop the dash instead of being part of it.
Sat Nav is standard on all models and it is easy to programme and easy to view.
Bluetooth connectivity is included as is a DAB radio, CD player and Mazda’s own Aha and Stitcher apps which give access to Internet Radio as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Visibility is very good all round with a raised driving position. Parking is helped even more by front and rear parking sensors to prevent any mishaps.
The chunky leather steering wheel and the sharp-shifting manual gearstick is perfectly placed – much like in the MX-5 Sportster – and another reason why this CX-5 is such a sharp-driving SUV.
The main instrument binnacle houses 3 large, circular dials that show exactly what you want – clear and uncluttered read-outs with the right-hand one housing a 5in LED display to show trip info as well as temp and fuel levels.
The rear seats have a two-position recline function, although the bench can’t be moved forward or back.
The seats split 40-20-40- something you don’t find on rivals.
Headroom and leg room is very good. Two adults could travel all day back there and not feel cramped, while three kids should fare pretty well too.
Boot space should be more than enough for most families at 506 litres.
You’ll also find 30-litres of hidden storage space beneath the boot-floor (unless you’ve opted for the Bose sound system), while dropping the rear seats is made easy by pull-handles in the boot.
On the road the CX-5 retains all the appeal of the older model. Thanks to its SKYACTIV, lightened body and chassis it’s as sporty to drive as a decent family hatchback.
There is a trade-off for the sharpness of the CX-5 and that comes in the shape of less comfort over pot-holes and poor road-surfaces.
However, whether darting around A-roads or cruising along the motorway you’ll find yourself enjoying the environment and dynamics of the Mazda.
Even the entry-level SE-L Nav comes with 17in alloys, engine start/stop button, rear privacy glass, rear electric windows, cruise control with speed-limiter, front and rear parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers.
On the safety front there is the excellent Advanced Smart City Brake Support alongside the likes of Hill Hold Assist and a comprehensive Dynamic Stability Control system.
The CX-5 Sport Nav gets 19in alloys and adds Smart Keyless Entry, a powered tailgate, reversing camera and a premium Bose Sound System.
There is also black leather seat trim with electric adjustment for both driver and passenger, heated front seats and steering wheel, Traffic Sign Recognition and a Heads Up Display.
All in all, the new Mazda CX-5 should be a serious contender if you’re in the market for a mid-sized, family-friendly SUV that won’t make you feel you’ve had to compromise driving pleasure for practicality.
Now Mazda have upped the premium-feel of the CX-5 it really does make a lot of sense when comparing to the VW Tiguan or even the Volvo XC60.
AT A GLANCE: Mazda CX-5 SE-L Nav SKYACTIV-D 150ps 2WD
OTR Price: £25,695
Engine: 2.2 turbo diesel
Power: 148 bhp
Transmission: 6-speed Manual
0-62mph: 9.4 secs
Top Speed: 127 mph
Combined Economy: 56.5 mpg