Parkers overall rating: 3.7 out of 5 3.7
  • Manual, auto, two- and all-wheel drive
  • Petrol and diesels
  • No hybrids or electric versions to choose

Petrol engines

There are two petrol engines on offer. First up is the SkyActiv-G 165hp, 2.0-litre motor, with two-wheel drive, available with a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. There’s also a 2.5-litre, only available in GT Sport spec. This is auto only.

Both are non-turbocharged petrol engines that have been honed for efficiency with cylinder deactivation technology, which shuts off a pair of cylinders (for reduced fuel consumption) when the car isn’t under load, such as when it’s coasting or gently cruising.

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The 2.0-litre feels like it could do with a turbo at times as it’s often too gutless for the mid-size SUV shape. Building momentum up steep hills will require a gear change. If you’re coming from a diesel or turbocharged petrol SUV, the lack of pulling power is going to feel quite alien – it needs to be revved hard to unlock its performance.

The 2.5-litre feels much stronger and peppier. It even sounds pretty throaty when you press fully on the accelerator. Although, on start up, it does produce a bit of a racket. Keen drivers will want to try the Sport driving mode. This makes the gear changes a bit quicker and will let you keep in gear too, allowing you to rev it all the way to the redline.

Diesel engines

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There are two 2.2-litre options. The 150hp version is available with front-wheel drive and a manual or automatic gearbox. While the 184hp model can be specced with front or four-wheel drive, and manual or automatic gearboxes.

Although the black pump is becoming less popular, diesel really suits this car. The 2.2 with an automatic transmission is a very easy car to drive, and one that really soaks up long distances effortlessly. As with the petrol, the AWD system eats into your fuel consumption. Really think about whether you need the added traction before ticking that box.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Good fun, as most Mazdas are
  • Comfort is good, especially on the motorway
  • Agility not at the expense of comfort

Driving enjoyment is Mazda’s calling card and for the most part the CX-5 falls into line with the manufacturer’s current run of satisfying steers. It doesn’t deliver quite the same enjoyment as the company’s smaller hatchback and saloon models but you wouldn’t expect it to.

Where the CX-5 shines is its steering, and how it turns-in to corners. There’s a bit of bodyroll but it’s well-controlled, with no wallowing, and mid-corner the CX-5 demonstrates huge and balanced traction levels. The heavier AWD diesel feels noticeably weighty around bends but in a confidence-inspiring manner, and goes exactly where you point it.

The manual gearbox is a pleasure to use, with a light and accurate change, and the clutch take-up is smooth and positive. But having to work the engine hard to make brisk progress isn’t what you’d expect to have to do in a large family car such as the CX-5.

In terms of comfort, low road noise and vibration are the CX-5’s forte. In day-to-day driving, the level of tyre and wind noise are low, although noise levels ramp up more than we’d like on the motorway. There’s a bit of a firm edge to the ride over really bad surfaces but on the whole the CX-5 behaves itself very well, especially impressive when you consider its balanced handling.