When it first arrived in Australia in 2011 the Mazda CX-5 was praised for its styling and general liveability as a crossover wagon, but we weren’t impressed by the performance of the only engine on offer at the time. Quoting the Mazda marketing slogan we said the petrol unit was more Zoom than Zoom-Zoom in the way it performed.

That criticism was answered a few months later when Mazda offered the CX-5 with the option of a turbo-diesel – we soon announced the Zoom-Zoom was back. So in the interest of our motoring enjoyment we recently re-tested a CX-5 for a week, and again came away impressed

Interestingly, the diesel powered Mazda CX-5 is being promoted as a performance unit rather than an economy one.

To our eyes, Mazda’s Kodo styling theme with its big grille, long bonnet and deeply sculpted sides works even better in the CX-5 than in the rest of the range. We love it.


The Mazda SkyActiv turbo-diesel fitted to the CX-5 puts out an impressive 420 Nm of torque and 129 kW of power.

It sits beside a six-speed automatic transmission and drives all four wheels, unlike the petrol which comes with the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

A premium nine-speaker Bose surround sound system was specifically designed for the CX-5. There are USB and Bluetooth inputs as well as iPod playback which includes onscreen music information and Aux jack as standard.

We didn’t particularly like the Tom Tom satellite navigation system in the CX-5 as its graphics didn’t match the quality of rest of the interior.


Every model across the Mazda CX-5 range comes standard with six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, ABS brakes, Emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

Mazda Australia is proud of the fact that the CX-5 came with the option of an impressive list of safety firsts in its class; these included lane departure warning and automatic high beam control available.

This is a comfortable five-seater if those in the back aren’t overly large, though as is usual in this class two adults and three youngsters is a more sensible way of doing it.

Mazda CX-5 has a three-piece 40:20:40 fold-down rear seats to let you juggle luggage and passenger loads. A luggage cover keeps 403 litres of cargo out of sight. The luggage area can be as voluminous as 1560 litres with the rear seats folded.

A low lift gate and large boot opening make for easy loading.

The diesel isn’t noisy at start up as are many other four-cylinder diesels. And the sounds that did find their way out from under that shapely bonnet were unlike any other diesel – or petrol for that matter. The engine has a low pitched note that’s easy on the ear and a far cry from many of the clattery diesels of old.

Response to the accelerator is pretty good although there is the lag that’s inevitable in all turbocharged engines. It’s minimal, and once the turbo has wound itself up and the new six-speed automatic transmission has found the most correct gear for the conditions the CX-5 really gets along very sharply.

Best of all, the engine is willing to rev almost as freely as a petrol unit. That’s due to the lighter weight achieved because the very low compression ratio of 14 to 1 means its relatively light, so there’s less reciprocating mass to be accelerated churning up and down in there.

A redline at 5200 revs is something you just don’t see on other diesels – though the Europeans are starting to get better numbers out of theirs.

We found our test Mazda CX-5 diesel typically using seven to nine litres per hundred in around town driving and in the sixes on the open road. These are higher than average numbers for this class, but keep in mind Mazda has designed this as a performance diesel, not an economy one.

The CX-5 had mild understeer when hustled on fast bends, but it’s capable of going a lot harder than the typical owner will demand before needing any correction from the driver, or the backup of stability control.

It has a fuss-free pleasant ride even on corrugated dirt roads. On motorways it’s almost in the luxury sedan class for noise and vibration suppression.

The medium SUV market segment continues to dominate the sales race in Australia and Mazda’s CX-5 should be right there on the vehicles to add to your short list.


Maxx 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $27,880 (manual), $29,880 (automatic)
Maxx 2.5-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $32,880 (automatic)
Maxx Sport 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $33,620 (automatic)
Maxx Sport 2.5-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $36,620 (automatic)
Maxx Sport 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $39,470 (automatic)
GT 2.5-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $44,180 (automatic)
GT 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $47,030 (automatic)
Akera 2.5-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $46,570 (automatic)
Akera 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $49,420 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: $2000 option in Maxx 2WD, standard in all other models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Not offered in Maxx and Maxx Sport, standard (including front) in GT and Akera
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB / Auxiliary Audio Input: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon)

Capacity: 2.191 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 14.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 86.0 x 94.3 mm
Maximum Power: 129 kW @ 4500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 rpm

Driven Wheels: AWD
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 4.090:1

Length: 4540 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1710 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1633 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Towing Ability: 750 kg (1800kg with braked trailer
Boot Capacity: 403 litres (1560 litres with rear seatbacks folded)

Front Suspension: MacPherson struts
Rear Suspension: Multi-link
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.7 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 7.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 5/10

Three years/unlimited km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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