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The new Mazda CX-5 will challenge the likes of the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail to become one of Australia’s best-selling SUVs, says the Japanese car maker.

Mazda has this week launched the all-new CX-5, a vehicle that replaces the CX-7 and a model it says will achieve about 12,000 annual sales.

The CX-7 ironically had its best sales month in January, placing second to the RAV4, but Mazda believes the CX-5 – slightly smaller but still a five-seater – will be a consistently stronger performer.

“[Our sales forecast] should have us challenging for a top three spot in the segment,” Mazda Australia’s marketing boss Alistair Doak said. “When you look at it, the CX-5 is more in the [market] sweet spot [compared to CX-7].

“We also had only a four-model range with CX-7 whereas with CX-5 10 different models will be offered.”

The Mazda CX-5 also starts at a lower pricing point than the CX-7. Where the CX-7 kicked off at $33,990 for a front-wheel-drive Classic variant, the Mazda CX-5 is available from $27,800 – for a front-drive, manual petrol edition.

The rest of the Mazda CX-5 range comprises automatic transmission only variants, split into FWD and AWD, diesel and petrol engines, and three trim levels – Maxx, Maxx Sport and Grand Touring.

A CX-5 all-wheel-drive starts at $32,300, diesel versions start at $39,040, and the line-up tops out with the flagship CX-5 Grand Touring diesel AWD that asks $46,200 before on-road costs are added.

The Mazda CX-5 range is available from March, with diesel variants arriving late in the month.

The Grand Touring is the only trim level for now available with a $1990 Tech Pack option that includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and headlights that can switch automatically between high and main beam.

Mazda says it would consider offering the safety technology features for other trim levels if there was customer demand, and argues the CX-5 is already a fundamentally safe vehicle with the inclusion of six airbags, stability and traction control, and hill start assist.

The Mazda CX-5 is the first of the Japanese brand’s models to feature the new ‘Kodo’ design language as well as the first vehicle to be built from the ground up using the fundamentals of Mazda’s suite of Skyactiv construction and drivetrain technologies aimed at improving efficiency.

The SUV sits on an all-new platform and at 4540mm is 153mm shorter than the CX-7, with a 50mm-shorter wheelbase, at 2700mm.

Mazda says better packaging – helped by a less steeply raked windscreen than the CX-7 – improves cabin space despite the overall smaller dimensions.

The CX-5’s body is also stronger yet lighter, with the FWD petrol CX-5 114kg lighter than the equivalent CX-7 and the diesel auto CX-5 an impressive 243kg lighter than the diesel manual CX-7 (not auto was available for the latter model).

The new ‘Skyactiv-D’ diesel is a 2.2-litre turbo unit that offers 129kW of power and 420Nm of torque, with fuel consumption of 5.7 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 149g/km. It’s mated to a new six-speed auto as standard.

Mazda quotes a 0-100km/h time of 9.4 seconds for the diesel, identical to the claimed figure for the FWD manual petrol CX-5.

The ‘Skyactiv-G’ 2.0-litre petrol has already been in action locally in the Mazda3 SP20 Skyactiv model.

In the CX-5 it produces 114kW (113kW for AWD) and 200Nm (198Nm AWD), with the front-drive model using 6.4L/100km (149g/km emissions) and the 70kg-heavier all-wheel-drive variant sipping 6.9L/100km (160g/km).

Both engines feature ‘i-stop’, Mazda’s engine stop-start technology.

The entry-level Maxx is only available with the petrol engine, with both engine choices available for Maxx Sport and Grand Touring.

Standard features for all models include reverse-view camera, Bluetooth with audio streaming, keyless engine start, cruise control and hill-start assist.

Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport and Grand Touring models come with an integrated TomTom satellite navigation system, 40:20:40 split rear seats, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and leather-wrapped steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake.

The flagship Grand Touring adds 19-inch alloys (compared to 17-inch steels for Maxx, 17-inch alloys for Maxx Sport), daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, electric sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with heating, and a 231-watt Bose audio.

Mazda says the Maxx will account for the majority of sales, at 40 per cent, with the remaining 60 per cent an even split between Maxx Sport and Grand Touring.

Seventy per cent of buyers will opt for the petrol engine and 65 per cent of customers will choose AWD rather than FWD.

As reported last year by CarAdvice, Mazda Australia has taken the decision to replace the CX-7 with the CX-5 despite the former model continuing production and availability in some other markets.

Mazda Australia says the CX-7 is in run-out – helping to explain its excellent January sales result – and that all remaining stock is only with dealers now.

The CX-5 will be classified as a ‘medium sized SUV’ by the official industry sales statistics, VFACTS, after a categorisation reshuffle to accommodate true compact SUVs such as the Mitsubishi ASX and Skoda Yeti.

The Mazda CX-9, launched in 2007, continues as the brand’s seven-seater SUV option.

CarAdvice has also learned exclusively that Mazda is planning an even smaller SUV, potentially to be called the CX-3.

Click to read CarAdvice’s Mazda CX-5 Review.

Mazda CX-5 Range

Mazda CX-5 Maxx: petrol, FWD manual             $27,800
Mazda CX-5 Maxx: petrol, FWD auto                 $29,800
Mazda CX-5 Maxx: petrol, AWD auto                 $32,300
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport: petrol, FWD auto        $33,540
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport: petrol, AWD auto        $36,040
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport: diesel, AWD auto        $39,040
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring: petrol, AWD auto    $43,200
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring: diesel, AWD auto    $46,200




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