Crossover essential for Mazda
This design, straddling a saloon and an off-roader, is becoming increasingly popular, writes Martin Brennan
Mazda has joined the growing ranks of manufacturers who see a crossover as essential in their line-up. The high driving position, lots of space and good economy combine to make crossovers a very acceptable choice between saloons and off-roaders for families.
Those who bought the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and Hyundai's new ix35 are chuffed with the space, performance and versatility of the crossover breed.
The arrival of the CX-5 is late in the day for Mazda but very timely as the company has been going through a rough patch. With sales in Europe down 25 per cent, a new model is just what the company needs to heighten its profile as it fights off the effects of the earthquake in the home country and currency problems with the yen.
The company plans to overcome these problems by building manufacturing plants in Russia and Mexico, but growth will be hampered as the Avensis/Mondeo competitor, the all new Mazda6, will not arrive until early next year. So a lot is riding on the success of the CX-5 and great efforts have gone into making it a winner.
When it went on sale in Japan, eight months worth of orders were sold in the first month, and in Germany -- where Mazda quality is well recognised -- there is also a very healthy order book.
An attractive-looking vehicle, the snub nose, which will become the corporate face of Mazda, will cause a second glance but it gives a strong solid appearance up front with smooth eye-catching lines toning down any hint of a bulky SUV look. It is longer, taller and wider than the VW Tiguan and Kuga with class- leading rear legroom and boot space. Thanks to Mazda's new Skyactiv manufacturing technology -- which blends lightweight chassis and body parts with advanced engines to produce low CO2 and high economy -- it is also one of the best handling among its competitors as it is 100kg lighter than most.
The CX-5 comes with a 165bhp 2-litre petrol engine, which will not be a big seller, but the 2.2litre turbo-diesel offering has a choice of power outputs -- 150bhp and 175bhp, with the smaller power plant expected to be the favourite.
The 150bhp comes into Band A with 119g/km CO2 output and will sprint from 0km-100km in 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 205 kmh. Mazda claims this engine returned 4.5L/100km (61mpg) in controlled tests and says that even in the petrol model fuel returns are good (50mpg) thanks to Skyactiv technology.
But there may be a sting in the tail with the 2.2-litre engine as the Government is looking for ways to get more revenue from high priced luxury low-emission 'green' models. The big 2.2-litre capacity here could hurt in this year's Budget, but Mazda has a good 1.6-litre diesel which I am sure could be engineered to suit the CX-5.
The CX-5 comes with three specification levels, with prices for the diesel starting at under €29,000. Standard equipment includes a full safety package with collision avoidance, Bluetooth phone and a large colour dash screen.