SINGAPORE – We’ve had a lot of diesel cars come to market this year, which is an indication of how much Singapore has opened up to this alternative fuel, considering the fact that just a couple of years ago, diesel passenger cars were virtually non-existent, no thanks to highly punitive taxes and the outdated notion that diesels were inefficient and dirty.
But the majority of diesel cars sold here are of European origin, with a couple of Korean products in the mix. The Japanese are conspicuous by their absence in the diesel scene, apparently because they are firm believers in their hybrid technology. It’s almost like a clash of ideologies, although the Europeans are starting to embrace hybrids as well.
In the same way, perhaps the Mazda CX-5 Diesel can help sway the Japs towards the oil-burning side of the fence. It may seem like just another diesel variant of the many we already get here in Singapore, but the CX-5 is actually the first Japanese car to run on the black fuel. Which makes it a breakthrough of sorts in the market.
Frankly though, if you didn’t know any better, you really can’t tell this apart from the petrol CX-5. The only giveaway is the slight clatter from the outside upon start up, but other than that, the car is virtually indistinguishable to its petrol cousin. The standard equipment count is also the same, with features such as the i-stop engine stop-start system, automatic headlights and wipers, electric sunroof, keyless entry, sat-nav and reverse camera all present and correct. There isn’t even a badge outside to let people know it’s a diesel.
Which means you still get all the goodness that has made the CX-5 one of our favourite crossover SUVs, namely its nimble handling and well-rounded drivability. It is arguably the most car-like to drive among all the compact SUVs available out there, thanks to Mazda’s weight-saving Skyactiv technologies that help make the CX-5 lighter than its contemporaries. The diesel version also gets all-wheel-drive, as opposed to the front-drive only petrol variants, so you could actually take this off-roader off road if you so wish.
If not, then the car also works very well in the urban setting, with 175bhp and a handy 420Nm of torque emanating from the 2.2-litre diesel engine ensuring that you won’t be found wanting for grunt. The plentiful torque means the car is very handy in traffic, and the unit is also extremely smooth and incredibly quiet, which will go a long way towards convincing doubters about the refinement of diesel powerplants.
And of course, there’s the savings to be had by going the diesel route, with Mazda claiming that the diesel CX-5 is capable of returning an average fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres per 100km, highly impressive for a car of its type. But frankly, there’s so much more to this car than just mere penny-pinching, because the CX-5 Diesel is an extremely well-rounded car in its own right. You have to wonder, if they can come up with a product that’s this good, why are the Japanese shying away from diesel technology? There’s no reason to believe that both diesels and hybrids cannot co-exist, if Mazda’s efforts are anything to go by.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 2,192cc, 16V, in-line 4
Power 173bhp at 4500rpm
Torque 420Nm at 2000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 204km/h
0-100kmh 9.4 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.9L/100km
Price $191,988 with COE
Also Consider: Kia Sportage Diesel, Volkswagen Tiguan TDI
Photos by Alvin Doms Valentin