Throughout my life, I have always loved the saying, "less is more". With the new Mazda CX-5, the manufacturer uses a similar approach - but they’ve substituted that phrase with "beauty through subtraction". You see, to most people the new Mazda CX-5 may not look massively different. In some people's eyes, they would even be forgiven for thinking that this was a facelift instead of an all-new model. But despite the lack of visual design changes, the all-new CX-5 is simply better than before.
First off, there was nothing significantly wrong with the outgoing model of the Mazda CX-5. It is a great choice of SUV within the segment, but like with most cars, there were some minor tweaks that needed changing. For example, the cabin of the CX-5 could often feel noisy. This is among the biggest changes by the manufacturer to this all-new SUV. They have introduced some excellent sound solutions for the car. They've thought of everything, from adding extra padding to the A-pillars to thickening the product surrounding the glass around the car. Hell, they've even moved the windshield wipers to combat sound intrusion.
The car's interior is now super-quiet. Whether you drive the petrol or diesel choices, you do notice that many of the rumblings of the past have now moved on. In fact, on more than one occasion I commented to my co-driver how quiet the engine was from inside the cabin. We did pick up a slight bit of noise from the wing mirror when we were doing 120km/h - this was very minor, and I am nitpicking. The other noise was the unavoidable - the hushed rumble of the 19-inch tyres we were sitting on.
The exterior of the vehicle has also received some changes. The grille, for example, looks a lot more macho than before - the phrase Mazda would use here is "refined toughness". It now has a more aggressive stance. It is a lot more defined, and looks great. Mazda has simplified, or taken the "beauty through subtraction" approach to the lines on the car. The lines which used to run along the sides are no longer broken - they appear to flow more freely from the rear lights , over the bonnet, and onto the front grille. Mazda's signature "Soul Red" colour has been tweaked too, and it has now been brightened and its depth has been increased - so this new colour is now called "Soul Red Crystal".
The light casings to the front are now a lot sleeker, and the rear has received a similar kind of treatment. Talking about the rear, for the first time (and in fairness, they are a little late to the races here) they now have a power tailgate - which means opening and closing the boot can now be done at the push of a button.
Back to the interior, the eagle-eyed of you will notice that the 7-inch infotainment screen has moved and it now sits on top of the dashboard. Another new feature is a heated steering wheel.
We drove a top-of-the range model, and our leather interior felt and looked great. As usual, the front and rear offers excellent space. Legroom in the back is very good, and I reckon you could fit five adults in total into the car. The middle passenger will have a slimmer seat, and will have to put his or her feet either side of the transmission tunnel. While the car may be 10mm longer than before, the wheelbase remains the same, so no major changes have happened to leg room.
To the front, the centre armrest now appears wider, and this adds to the feeling of driving in a chunky SUV. As is common in most cars, the CX-5 also offers USB charge points to the front. In some models, you will find seat warmers and USB points to the rear. The car also comes with an aux-in point and a 12v charge point.
Two engines will be available to the Irish market offering three power outputs. A 2.0 litre petrol version will be available. It pushes 165hp. I briefly drove this and found it to be super-quiet. It offers torque of 210Nm at 4,000 rpm. Funnily enough, I noticed this rolled a little bit more in corners than the 2.2-litre diesel offering. The 2.2 diesel offers two outputs; 150hp (which I have not driven) and 175hp. This all-wheel drive car gripped the road excellently and on account of a bit of extra weight, it didn't seem to roll as much on corners. The body of the CX-5, we're told, is 15% more rigid than before, which explains why bodyroll is not much of an issue. The car also benefits from the latest SKYACTIV CHASSIS - this improves steering, suspension, and the brake system.
Like the latest Mazda6, the CX-5 also benefits from G-Vectoring Control. This system uses the engine, transmission and the chassis to help the car respond more to the driver and the road. It varies the amount of engine torque delivered to each wheel, it also monitors the driver's steering - so, when you enter a corner, the car reduces torque to the front wheels which means that more friction and weight goes to the front axle. This in turn, increases tyre grip, thus allowing the front wheels to have more grip - which results in a more precise turn. Through the corner manoeuvre, the G-Vectoring Control then transfers weight to the rear wheels after recovering engine drive torque. This transfer of weight to the rear enhances the car's stability.
We'll have a more indepth look at how the car drives when we get it for an extensive test drive.
For the moment, the 2.0-litre petrol engine will only be available with two-wheel drive and comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. The 6-speed manual is smooth through changes, however, I was impressed by the six-speed automatic, and even after putting immediate stress on it from a stand still, it dealt with gear changes fluidly. The diesel option will be available with this automatic gearbox in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
I was a fan of the outgoing Mazda CX-5, and likewise I am a fan of this. The question is whether people are willing to sit in it for a test drive before they get to their nearest Hyundai Tucson or SEAT ATECA dealer?
Entry level pricing for the CX-5 is €28,995 (2.0 SKYACTIV-G petrol). This makes it more expensive than both the Ateca and the Tucson entry-level vehicles, however, don't let the marketing fool you. While it might be cheaper to get into the ATECA and the Tucson, you may be looking at a smaller and less-powerful engine. The Mazda comes nicely specced, offers an engaging drive and is arguably more stylish. The diesel prices start from €31,495 for a 150hp Executive model. Personally, I'd opt for the auto Executive SE - the price of this starts from €35,395. The top of the range AWD auto Platinum model starts from €41,695.
Let's face it, this is an improvement on what was already a really good car. However, in the past I was quite vocal in complaining about how drastic the changes were between each generation of Mazda models. For once, they have made subtle changes. Some may think that they should've done a bit more, but I think think they're stepping in the right direction.