Test Drives

Mazda CX-5 2.5 Review 2018: Mile mannered

The Mazda CX-5 has been mildly updated for 2019. Can’t see how? Read on, then…

SINGAPORE — How do you spell “obsessive”? Try M-A-Z-D-A. Here we are barely a year after Mazda launched the CX-5 in Singapore, and it’s already trotted out a new and ever-so-slightly-improved version.

Much of it is in the form of new features (or “content”, as the car trade likes to call it), but then there’s stuff that you can’t even see or feel.

Bear in mind, carmakers usually wait at least a couple of years before rolling out the improvements to a model to keep buyers interested. If you were the sceptical kind you might say Mazda rushed out the CX-5 before they were completely satisfied with it last year, but it’s probably more a case of the company being a bit giddy with cash at the moment — its sales, revenues and profits have never been higher.

As mentioned, many of the new features are either minor or cosmetic. It’s worth noting that there are four CX-5s on sale here — 2.0 Standard, 2.0 Premium, 2.5 Luxury and 2.5 Super Luxury — and most of the changes are for all but the cheapest 2.0 Standard model.

The rest get new roof rails, which is handy if you’re a cycling fiend (or if you want to look like one) and an easy way to identify the latest CX-5. Then there are new strips of chrome for the side skirts and the front and rear air dams.

They add a bit of premiumness to a car that’s always looked fairly posh to begin with, but if you want things even more lux looking you can ask Eurokars to spray the skirts and airdams the same colour as the body.

Inside, there used to be a simpler, flip-up system for the head-up display on some versions of the car. That’s now given way to a larger, clearer type that projects the info directly onto the windscreen.

Told you the changes were minor.

But it means that what is possibly the nicest car in its class is slightly nicer. This generation of the CX-5 has always had the most European-like interior among its rivals, which means the controls are coherent and simple, with the neatest graphics. The plastics wouldn’t feel out of place in a BMW, either.

It’s also a usefully large car, with a roomy cabin that has rear air-con vents and back seats that recline by a tiny amount.

The boot isn’t particularly large, at 442 litres, but you can set the rear seats more upright to add space, or fold them altogether. At least the tailgate is powered, too.

On the move, it’s still a quiet car and it’s still good through corners. In fact, for something so tall, the CX-5 is surprisingly nimble and easy to guide around bends with precision. That might not seem important to you if you’re not a driving enthusiast, but a car with good roadholding can give you plenty of confidence behind the wheel, which in turn gives you less stress over long distances.

But the CX-5 itself has been tweaked to suffer a bit less stress on the go. In fact, the biggest change to the car has been under the bonnet, although it’s perhaps ironic that you’re not meant to be aware of the change in action.

The 2.5-litre engine gets a new cylinder activation system, which shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders in certain conditions. The shutdown takes effect between 40km/h and 80km/h, and it happens so imperceptibly that you can’t feel it. There isn’t an indication or lamp on the instrument panel to tell you when you’ve geon from four to two cylinders, either.

On paper, the CX-5’s fuel consumption is still rated at 7.2L/100km, the same as before, but Mazda says you should see some benefit in real world conditions. Deactivating the cylinders apparently reduces fuel consumption by as much as 20 per cent at 40km/h.

Why bother? Because it’s laudable to want to save fuel, even if it’s a droplet at a time. I mean you can afford to let your kitchen sink drip all day, but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless if you try not to.

Besides, Mazda’s approach to efficiency, under the corporate “Skyactiv” banner, is all about making miniscule improvements wherever possible so that they can all add up to a meaningful whole.

If the CX-5 2.5’s new engine tells you anything, it’s that Mazda has been obsessive for years now.

NEED TO KNOW Mazda CX-5 2.5 Super Luxury
Engine 2,488cc, 16-valve inline 4
Power 194hp at 6000rpm
Torque 258Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 201km/h
0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Efficiency 7.2L/100km
Price S$155,800 with COE
Agent Trans Eurokars
Available Now

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.