If you want a prime example of a metamorphosis within the motor industry, take a look at Mazda. From making solid but utilitarian vehicles, to now presenting a strong upmarket offensive, the brand has change dramatically. However, something that hasn’t changed is their core DNA. Be it the MX-5 or an SUV, their range has always embroidered a focus on the drive into every machine. The CX-5 mades up over 25%of European sales and really hit the sweet spot in terms of design, practicality, and en enjoyable driving experience. Can the all-new Mazda CX-5 pick up from where its predecessor left off?
The SUV marketplace is excessively fashion conscious, and so the visuals of such a car play a very big part in its appeal. CX-5 was a rather handsome effort but looks somewhat understated by todays standards. Enter the all-new model and it certainly stamps its authority on the automotive catwalk. Clean lines run from nose to tail conveying a sense of motion. the Kodo design language see the introduction of a new deep chrome trimmed grill that is flanked by a pair of narrow headlights. As the roof gently slopes towards the rear you will find a domed boot lid and a smart set of horizontal lights. Our top specification test car looked great wearing a set of dark 19 inch alloy wheels.
This revolution in design continues inside where the interior is unrecognisable. There is still plenty of usable space, but the perceived quality of the cabin has been taken up a peg or two. Soft-ouch materials line most surfaces with brushed aluminium defining things such as air vents. A contoured dashboard and intricate inserts give it plenty of character. Mazda’s ergonomic touchscreen infotainment display is mounted onto the dashboard with its tumbler and shortcut buttons easily falling to hand. It features all of your usual DAB, phone connectivity, and navigational features, but does lack the option of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A pair of supportive leather heated sports seats play host to front occupant, whilst the driver now receives a heated steering wheel too. Rear head and leg room is pleasing, however, the middle passenger does have to straddle a protruding transmission hump. A wide opening electric tailgate reveals 506 litres of boot space and a nice flat floor.
Refinement in the 2017 Mazda CX-5 was a key target for engineers and it is fair to say they have succeeded. With an anal level of detail going into new rubber seals and strategically located sound deadening, engine and wind noise all but evaporates. There is some road noise, likely not aided by our cars larger alloy wheels, but overall it is a tranquil means to travel. Powering this example is a 148 BHP 2.2 litre diesel engine of which is accompanied by a healthy 380Nm of torque. Whilst there is an all wheel drive variant on offer, this configuration with front wheel drive is expected to be the most popular. Sending that power to the front wheels is a 6 speed manual transmission. Right from the get-go the engine proves to be a strong choice with that aforementioned torque available low in the rev range. Mazda have work hard to hush their diesels and so their related soundtrack is kept to a minimum. Around urban environments this SUV scores well with good all around visibility and light steering. It does a great job of not feeling like a large car to drive. This is further backed up by its agility on twisting roads. There is some initial body roll, as you would expect, but it is quick to change direction and has a real sense of composure even when pushing on. The short throw to its gearstick is more sports car than family workhorse and the prime seating position aids with driver connection. That said, the steering is a bit too light at speed and I found myself taking a few stabs on entry to corners in order to get a sense of what the front wheels were doing. That is a shame because in very other respect this is the best handling car in its class. Whilst the ride is a little firmer than the competition, it is supple enough to live with everyday. On the motorway iy is a well balanced cruiser and a relaxing means to travel long distances. Mazda claim 56.5 MPG combined from our car.
Clearly the 2017 Mazda CX-5 has evolved the formula in order to become a more premium offering. It ticks the right boxes when it comes to family life, but also is something that might encourage you to take the long way home. I may prefer the steering setup of its predecessor, but in every other aspect the latest generation is a far superior machine. Despite how competitive this class is, Mazda should be very happy with their efforts. The all-new CX-5 costs from £23,695 (loaded with standard equipment) and goes on sale 30th June.