If you’ve already watched our second-generation Mazda CX-5 range review, you’ll know why this model – the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Touring petrol – is our pick of the 2017 line-up.
But here we plan to take a deeper look into why this version of the CX-5 is the one that makes the most sense for buyers – from its pricing and equipment, to its practicality and performance.
Of the 12 variants of the new generation CX-5 that are available to choose from, the Touring 2.5-litre petrol model is the one Alborz and I thought offered the best blend of the desirables you might want in your new family SUV when we put each different variant through its paces in our earlier video. It's a new derivative, one that was added to fill the gap between the Maxx Sport and GT models when the new-generation model arrived in March 2017.
The Touring was the sweet spot, we thought, because of its pricing and equipment levels, ducking in under the elusive psychological barrier that is the $40,000 mark, at least on list pricing for the 2.5-litre petrol all-wheel-drive model.
At $38,990 plus on-road costs, the Touring petrol model is one well specified car. Standard are 17-inch alloys, LED headlights, daytime running lights and tail-lights, and smart keyless entry by way of a little button on the door handles.
Inside there’s a black faux-leather trim with suede seat inserts, which is a nice step up over the cloth in the lower versions, while Mazda’s MZD Connect media system with rotary dial controller includes satellite navigation, digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and four USB points – two up front and two fast chargers in the rear.
There’s also a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, push-button start, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and plenty of other assistance items.
Just like the base model CX-5 which is comprehensively equipped with safety tech, the Touring has blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed autonomous emergency braking in drive and reverse – handy items whether you’re in town or out on the open road.
In the previous generation of the CX-5, its packaging wasn’t as good as it could have been. That’s been improved this time around, with a better use of space in the cabin – including a boot that is now about 10 per cent bigger than it used to be. The new boot space is 442 litres, where it was 403L. And every CX-5 features a clever 40:20:40 rear-seat folding mechanism, with pull levers in the boot area to drop them down easily.
The back seat is about the same as it was before in terms of space, with less room than the best SUVs in the class. It lacks the clever sliding rear seat that some rivals have, meaning that taller occupants may feel a bit squished for knee-room. Headroom and toe-room is fine, though, and rear seat occupants in this model will appreciate the rear seat air vents – which you don’t get in the base model – and the quick charging USB points in the back….
Up front there are two more USB points, but they’re trickle charge ones, not the higher output seen in the back. It’s properly annoying if you’re running low on juice. You might find yourself running a long cable from the back seat to the front to get the quickest charge possible!
The front cabin isn’t vastly different to the previous model, in that it is a well presented and nicely designed space, this time with more of a focus on storage than before. There are bigger door pockets all around, a decent centre console area with those two sluggish USB points. You don't get heated seats, nor is there electric adjustment for the front seats.
The MZD Connect media system remains a bit hit and miss: it is brilliantly intuitive to use thanks to the rotary dial, but the system can be glitchy – like, when you end a phone call and your music blares at you when you hang up, as we had happen a few times. It’s worth remembering, too, that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity remain absent from this new-generation Mazda.
What isn’t absent is Mazda’s much-touted “Zoom Zoom” driving experience: the 2.5-litre with all-wheel-drive is a charming thing. Its outputs of 140kW of power and 251Nm of torque aren’t huge, especially when you consider that they’re only up 2kW and 1Nm compared to the previous model. But the fact of the matter is that the 2.5-litre offers better roll-on acceleration than the other two drivetrains you can choose from. The six-speed gearbox is decisive and clever, and if you hit the sport mode button, it really frees up the engine to allow it to feel like it's pretty perky. There are no paddle-shifters, but there is a manual mode.
Mazda reckons about 60 per cent of buyers will opt for the 2.5-litre auto all-wheel-drive powertrain, and based on current sales figures it works out to be about 15,000 vehicles per year. It’s not a small number, and we reckon buyers who choose this drivetrain will be getting the best fit for the car.
The new model is a little bit heavier than its predecessor, due to the fact it’s larger, but there hasn’t been too much of a penalty in terms of fuel consumption: the 2.5 claims usage of 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres, just point one of a litre more than before. As we’ve found with Mazdas in the past, they’re normally aspirated engines tend to be pretty close to claim, provided you don’t stay in that sport mode too frequently.
The all-wheel-drive system is an on-demand unit, meaning there are sensors that detect if there’s a need for extra traction at the rear axle. In normal running, the car will default to front wheel drive. There’s something to be said for the assuredness that sort of system gives you: if you need to drive on a slippery grassy slope, you can. If you’re worried about a heavy downpour and how that’ll affect you, you needn’t be concerned. And because there are so many kilometres of unsealed roads around the nation, there’s some peace of mind that comes with it.
And while the higher-spec models have bigger wheels that may look nicer, there’s a slight penalty to pay in terms of ride comfort. The previous CX-5 was a little sharp for some tastes, and while the new model offers improved comfort, it still doesn’t deal with sharp-edged bumps as well as some of the more composed models in the class – we’re thinking the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, specifically. The amount of road noise intrusion in to the cabin is lower than it was previously, which is good, but it's still no beacon of silence on a coarse-chip surface.
The steering is one of the things that gives the Mazda its unique feel on the road: it is quick and accurate at speed, and while it can weight up a little oddly at times – when you’re braking from speed and turning into an intersection, for example – it is generally very well sorted, and light enough at parking speeds to make easy work of those situations.
Mazda still has one of the shorter servicing requirements around, with maintenance necessary every 10,000 kilometres or annually, whichever occurs first. The pricing averages out at about $315 over 50,000km or five years. And while some competitors offer longer warranties, Mazda backs its cars with a three-year, unlimited km plan.
It isn’t perfect, but as we found in our range review, this 2.5 litre petrol Touring model is the best blend of pricing, performance and practicality you can get in the new-generation Mazda CX-5 range.
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