Mazda CX-5 (2017-present)

Well made, spacious and good to drive: it's worth paying a bit extra for the Mazda CX-5

Strengths & Weaknesses


Sharp-edged design
Strong diesel performance
Nimble, quiet and comfortable


Lacks genuine off-road ability
Expensive compared to rivals
Petrol cars are noticeably slower

Mazda was once best known for producing low and sleek sports cars, but it has now got a growing reputation for cars at the opposite end of the spectrum: crossovers and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Tall, practical and focused on passenger comfort, the family-size CX-5 couldn’t be more different from the fun and frivolous two-seat MX-5 roadster.

It does carry some of the MX-5’s spirit, though, giving some justification to its label: there is some sport in this sport utility vehicle (SUV), which feels lighter with nimble steering and strong performance, while still offering a good level of comfort.

The CX-5 is an alternative to crossovers such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Karoq and Ford Kuga, but this latest model is a step above in terms of exterior styling, interior quality and cost (new car prices start at just over £24,000; 2017 used cars cost from around £21,500), so it also competes with the Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Audi Q3.

There are bright, eye-catching LED headlights, advanced metallic paint options and leather interior options but the CX-5 line-up is extremely simple by offering just two trim levels - SE-L Nav and Sport Nav - with even the most basic models coming extremely well equipped.

Niceties include 17-inch wheels as standard, rain sensing wipers, LED lamps, advanced cruise control and, as the name suggests, satellite navigation across all models.

Practicality is also one of the CX-5's strong points, with ample legroom in the rear for adults and seats that recline by a few extra percent over rival models offering a relaxing space to be.

Headroom is slightly lacking, due to that fancy new sweeping roofline, but it is likely to only affect the tallest family members.

Boot space with the rear seats intact is a over 100-litres more than the rival Nissan Qashqai and slightly less than the enormous Kia Sorento, which can be specified with seven seats that eat into this luggage space.

Better still, there's an easy folding rear seat mechanism that's operated by a handle in the boot. Simply pull it and those split rear seats fold flat with a smooth movement to free up an impressive 1620-litres of load space. 

On the road, the CX-5 is smooth over rough roads and has plenty of sound deadening for a calm, quiet atmosphere inside.

It’s an enjoyable car to drive, with little leaning in corners that typically affects these high riding crossover vehicles and a range of strong petrol and diesel engines that provide enough punch for hasty acceleration.

The 19in wheels on high-specification Sport Nav cars suit the car better but occasionally make the CX-5 unsettled on motorways, where it can twitch slightly as it rolls over uneven surfaces.

Last Updated 

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - 06:30

Key facts 

3-years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
506 litres
£200 to £500 in first year, £140 thereafter

Mazda CX-5 History 

  • July 2017 New Mazda CX-5 goes on sale in Britain

Mazda CX-5 Engines 

Petrol: 2.0 SKYACTIV-G Diesel: 2.2 150 SKYACTIV-D, 2.2 175 SKYACTIV-D

If you're upgrading from the previous Mazda CX-5, very little has changed in terms of engine choice, with Mazda offering the same 165 horsepower (hp) petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is in two different power outputs.

Tweaks to the throttle means the engine responds better and quicker to inputs from the right foot, while previous CX-5 owners notice that the gear lever is mounted slightly higher inside the vehicle, thanks to a redesign of the dashboard to make it more driver focussed.



Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed







2.2 150 SKYACTIV-D






2.2 175







Mazda CX-5 Trims 

SE-L Nav and Sport Nav

Mazda has always kept its trim line-ups simple but this new model really does bring new meaning to the word.

But in all seriousness, this is good news for the customer, because it means plenty of kit is lumped in as standard on even the 'entry-level' SE-L Nav models.

This is all in the name of pushing the model more upmarket, so it can attempt to compete with the likes of Volkswagen's Tiguan and Audi Q3 models.

In essence, it doesn't feel quite as well bolted together as the big VW, nor is it quite as special as an Audi interior, but the upmarket materials, 7-inch infotainment screen and head-up display see it elevated above cheaper rivals.

For those who simply want a large, reliable and comfortable SUV in which to transport the family, it's probably not worth the extra price hike over a Nissan Qashqai.

But standard kit on SE-L Nav models include: automatically levelling LED headlights, attractive 17-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjusting wing mirrors and rain-sensing wipers, which is a lot more kit than is found on cheaper, basic offerings.

Inside, Mazda follows its new using a new 'Jinba-Ittai' line of thinking, which translates roughly from Japanese into English as 'horse and rider as one', so the dashboard and cockpit are more centred around the driver.

The dash is also fashioned from more premium-feel materials that are finished with a hand-stitched effect, while Mazda's simple but functional 7-inch infotainment screen and system comes as standard on all cars.

Bluetooth integration allows for easy smartphone pairing, with DAB radio and satellite navigation also included.

It's certainly not as slick or capable as those found in German rivals and a lack of touchscreen does feel a bit backwards nowadays, but it is reactive and very simple to use via a small jog-wheel system located in the centre of the dash.

The more expensive Sport Nav models see 19-inch alloy wheels added, as well as a power tailgate, reversing camera and the brilliant Active Driving Display, which sees an advanced head-up display beamed directly to the windscreen.

From here, the driver can see speed information, as well as navigational instructions and multimedia info.

Black leather is also added to the seats and there is the addition of a heated steering wheel for peace of mind in the winter months.

It's a very stylish and technically adept package, and one that fills a gap that exists between the more expensive Nissan Qashais and cheaper German models.

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