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Car of the week: Approving glances for Mazda’s compact SUV

October 12th, 2021 5:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

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BY BRIAN BYRNE

WHEN some of us motoring journalists get together in discussion on current cars, one model eventually comes up with the kind of overall positive commentary that car company PRs dream about.

Mazda’s CX-5 compact SUV hasn’t even been around for a decade yet, though somehow it seems to have been forever. That’s possibly because we’re still only in the second generation of the car, though gentle facelifts and tweaking have kept it nicely up to date.

A key part of its visual charm is the relatively understated Mazda styling, which has not gone down the highly-designed body route. My latest excursion in it nevertheless attracted a significant number of approving glances. In the case of the CX-5, understated also marks refined beauty, a keynote element of the Mazda ethos.

And though I’ve said it before, I’ll mark the fact again that I place Mazda at the premium end of the mass market. For style, quality and finish. The reliability factor is also globally appreciated.

For some reason, most of the Mazdas I get are red, but this review car was in a fine silver-grey which suited the style and shaping very well.

Depending on how the light was falling, it picked out nicely the gentle curves and fine edges of the design detail.

In size the CX-5 sits between key rivals Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4, so it is nicely matched to its segment. There are production efficiencies in that the car shares its platform with the smaller Mazda3 and the longer Mazda6 saloon, a sharing that also gives it the excellent ride and handling characteristics of both.

Though the review car was top-of-the range in GT Lux specification, the CX-5 has the same consideration to a refined cabin ambience that I’ve previously noted from the brand.

A clean style to the dashboard with gentle curves that help take the edge off stress while driving. A traditional three dials main instruments set-up that is classic in its informing clarity.

And let me say this once more – loud. Not a touchscreen in sight. There is a centre infotainment screen, managed by a centre console rotary knob. It is simple, effective, and non-distracting. If it was in my gift, I would give all Mazdas an extra safety star for sticking to this system. Of course, it will also link with your Apple or Android phone, and you can use the same intuitive knob to work your way through the related apps.

Standard across the range are LED lights front and rear and fog. My review car’s front lights were of the adaptive kind. How far we have come from my early driving days when the 6v lights on my first Opel Rekord were about as useful as a candle in a carriage lamp.

Some of the added value in my GT Lux version included Nappa leather seats, with ventilation as well as heating, and special alloys which added to the exterior bling.

The car was a manual, lately unusual in my stream of review cars, but quite dreamy to use with the 165hp petrol engine. I’ve mentioned already that the ride and handling were up to top standard, and the soundproofing worked really well to help with a very relaxing time on the road.

There’s probably another very mild refresh on the way before we see a third generation of the CX-5, maybe in 2023, so the current version is well worth considering for a family car that will feel rather special as well as being a willing and capable workhorse.

VERDICT

What I like: Probably the best in-cabin ergonomics in the business.

Price: From €32,495; Review car €42,690.

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