Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport

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Driving Notes

Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport
Restraint hallmarks the CX-5’s exterior and cabin design. -- MAZDA PHILIPPINES

IN second-generation form the Mazda CX-5 is a completely reworked version of the nameplate that debuted in 2013, only carrying over items that apparently need no (or just minor) changes from the previous car — like the drivetrain, which still is cutting-edge, anyway. In all other aspects the present CX-5 is a vastly improved model over the car it replaced.

• Cabin has gone upscale. Retaining the uncluttered layout of the previous model, interior of the present car is lined by better-quality materials that look nice and feel good to touch. The surfaces of the dashboard, console and door panels are defined by lightly textured and padded composites and leather, with contrasting polished trim in some spots. The leather covering the seats and other furniture is supple and detailed with stitching. Black and dark gray predominate throughout, creating a somber but stylish business lounge vibe in which one could expect to hear some techno ambient music.

• Cabin is also packed with techie gizmos, among which is a seven-inch LCD touch screen panel that displays and allows access to infotainment functions, which expectedly pair with Bluetooth, aux-in and USB ports. A knob on the center console duplicates controls on the touch screen, providing a more “analog” interface. Anybody who is familiar with a smartphone should have no trouble rifling through the infotainment system’s controls. Plus, the graphics put legibility over snazzy gimmicks.

• Other premium interior kit includes push-button ignition for the engine that’s fitted with automatic start/stop; electric parking brake switch; automatic climate control; self-dimming rear-view mirror; and a head-up read-out for speed.

• Space for front and backseat passengers is ample while the trunk can fit a reasonable amount of cargo.

• Mazda’s suite of fuel-saving and emissions-cutting tech branded as SkyActiv is no mere marketing hype; a daily mix of gridlock driving and brief expressway blasts for close to a week routinely revealed a fuel consumption figure hovering around double-digit territory, even with the engine start/stop feature switched off most of the time. Not bad for an all-wheel drive crossover propelled by a 2.5-liter, 187hp, 251Nm, gasoline engine.

• The car’s suspension is pliant enough to absorb lumpy pavement and, together with a well-insulated and stiff body structure, prevents most noise and vibration from entering the cabin. Impressive, considering the car’s footwear of 19-inch alloys wrapped with 225/55 rubbers.

• Styling has turned sharper, sleeker, mostly a result of more chiseled — rather than organic — body lines, elongated and more complexly rendered lamps front and rear, and what seems to be a narrower greenhouse. Added musculature on the wheel arches creates definition where previous car can seem bulbous.

• Mazda’s Yojin3 Total Care program goes beyond the usual three-year/100,000-kilometer warranty coverage or free 24-hour roadside assistance (inclusive of towing or on-site repair services) offered in the after-sales plans of other brands. Mazda includes these services, but throws in periodic maintenance for three years, or until the CX-5 clocks 60,000 kilometers, at no charge. A “concierge” service for dining and travel bookings, among other assistance needs, and also at no cost, also comes with the Yojin3 program.

• With a 2.5-liter mill that spins out stout power rating figures, it’s only expected that the CX-5 is entertainingly quick. It is not. It accelerates smoothly, but forward progress is only sufficient, far from frenetic. Grunt can be weak too; down-shifting is necessary to get more shove out of the engine.

• Stylishly swoopy greenhouse cuts visibility for passengers in the backseat. Pair this with the dark interior pieces and rear accommodations can feel cramped when actually it’s adequate.

• In this premium spec the CX-5 falls near the price range of truck-based SUVs, all of which more practical — they seat seven, have tougher underpinnings, and could haul more cargo. But if it’s car-like manners in a handier (and only slightly less useful) size that one craves for, the CX-5 is at present the best crossover choice in the local market. Add the worry-free maintenance service and its appeal becomes even stronger. — Brian M. Afuang

Bluffer’s Box

Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport

Price: P1.895 million

Engine: 2.5-liter, inline-four, direct injection gasoline; 187hp @ 6,000rpm, 251Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drivetrain: All-wheel drive

Wheels/Tires: 19 inches, 225/55

Key features: G-Vectoring Control; i-Stop automatic engine start/stop; smart entry with push-button ignition; seven-inch touch screen multimedia with Bluetooth, aux-in, dual USB port connectivity; 10-speaker Bose sound system; head-up display; full-leather interior; automatic dual-zone climate control; parking sensor; reversing camera; blind spot monitoring