HARD TO GO PAST THIS MAZDA SUV CHAMPION

Mazda_CX-5_frontWhen it comes to handing out accolades in the automotive industry, not surprisingly, vehicle sales earn the most kudos. With that in mind, one undisputed market champion is the Mazda CX-5 sports utility vehicle.

The latest version, the Next-Gen CX-5, is helping keep Australia’s most popular SUV for the past four years, in that coveted position.

Launched in 2012 as Mazda’s first new-generation model featuring Kodo design – the Soul of Motion – and Skyactiv technology, the new CX-5, the second generation, Mazda says, refines every aspect of the company’s current technology and design.

The CX-5 recently scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating, while also offering a range of refined i-ActivSense safety technologies.

Twelve variants, priced from $28,690, plus on-road costs, are available in a choice of front or all-wheel drive, powered by a petrol or diesel engine mated with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

On test was the range-topping Akera six-speed automatic all-wheel drive, selling for $46,990, plus on-road costs.

Mazda_CX-5_rear

STYLING
The CX-5 was the first production model to feature Mazda’s Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme – based on the movements of animals, in this case the cheetah. Designers observed how what is reputed to be the fastest four-legged land animal uses its whole body as a spring, setting vast amounts of energy into motion with efficiency and grace.

This new Mazda CX-5 puts on a bolder face with the mesh-style grille replaced by five horizontal slats painted metallic grey and incorporating mechanical engraving. The design is repeated in the LED foglamp bezels.

Mazda tells us the headlight LEDs are designed to mimic eyes exhibiting an expressive look into the distance, so there you are. At the rear LEDs create a sharp line from the tail lamps toward the centre of the vehicle. Door mirrors incorporate LED turn signals.

Stylish 19-inch wheels with gunmetal highlights contrasting with the machining on its five twin spokes.

INTERIOR
Significant changes were made to the centre stack and floor console, the latter being made taller and more defined, to bring the gear lever, Commander control knob and surrounding switches closer to hand.

An electric parking brake – a first for Mazda – removes the need for a brake lever and gives the top of the console a clean, uncluttered look.

Mazda_CX-5_interior

INFOTAINMENT
The Akera features Mazda’s MZD Connect connectivity system that puts cabin occupants in touch with the internet and provide access to social networking services.

Connectivity is via a 7-inch colour touchscreen display on the central dashboard and multi-function controller on the centre console, the latter surrounded by related function switches.

It offers Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, reception of short text messages, and internet radio such as Aha with access more than 100,000 broadcasts from around the world, including BBC and CNN.

Stitcher on-demand provides more than 15,000 talk shows, music programs and podcasts and Pandora, a radio service for subscribers to create up to 100 personalised stations and listen to continuous music.

All this is let loose through a Premium Bose 249-Watt amplifier and ten speakers.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
In 2012, the CX-5 introduced Mazda’s efficient SkyActiv powertrains. The Next-Gen CX-5 Akera test car was fitted with a 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine coupled with a six-speed automatic.

The in-line four-cylinder direct-injection engine, with fuel saving i-stop start / stop system, puts out maximum power of 140 kW at 6000 rpm and top torque of 251 Nm at 4000 revs.

SAFETY
Over and above the plethora of active safety systems found in lesser CX-5 variants, the topline Akera comes with driver attention alert to warn of any lapse in driver concentration, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist to prevent the vehicle wandering out of its lane and smart brake support (forward and reverse) to help avoid collisions.

DRIVING
The 2.5-litre petrol engine coupled with a six-speed auto produced a pleasing enough driving experience without it breaking into a sweat.

For those who crave some action Drive Selection allows drivers to press a switch beside the shift lever to move into a Sport drive mode. The transmission is automatically set to start out in low gear. It then increases the amount of torque put out when the accelerator pedal is pressed further to deliver powerful acceleration with minimum pedal action. It’s okay in small bursts.

With a claimed combined urban / highway fuel consumption of 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres, figures of 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres around town and 6.1 on the highway seem not to far off the mark. Eco mode, with its poor performance was given short shrift after we tried for the first few kilometres.

The head-up display shows navigation turn-by-turn directions, routing information and current speed limit. Vehicle status information, including speed and advanced safety info, take up the remaining area.

Remote operated power tailgate always helps with loading the rear cargo area, while an electric tilt-and-slide sunroof is it take-it-or-leave-it bonus as far as we living in an over-abundance of summer sun are concerned.

SUMMING UP
For a smallish SUV to pull up in price just shy of fifty grand, you’d expect something special. The CX-5 Akera doesn’t disappoint, with a stack of superior stuff showing the way for its closest rivals.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0L petrol manual FWD $28,690
Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0L petrol automatic FWD $30,690
Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.5L petrol auto AWD $33,690
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.0L petrol auto FWD $34,390
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.5L petrol auto AWD $37,390
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.2L diesel auto AWD $40,390
Mazda CX-5 Touring 2.5L petrol auto AWD $38,990
Mazda CX-5 Touring 2.2L diesel auto AWD $41,990
Mazda CX-5 GT 2.5L petrol auto AWD $44,390
Mazda CX-5 GT 2.2L diesel auto AWD $47,390
Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.5L petrol auto AWD $46,990
Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.2L diesel auto AWD $49,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.5-litre petrol 6sp auto AWD SUV)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 251 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: Euro V

DRIVELINE: Six-speed DSG automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4550 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1675 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1670 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited kilometres

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