MAZDA have recently updated their mid-sized SUV – the CX-5 – and were kind enough to invite me to the UK launch, which took place at the stunning Cameron House Hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond.
On arrival at this truly beautiful location, I was greeted with the sight of a fleet of CX-5 models, lined up and ready for the following day when they would be taken on a lengthy journey through the winding roads of the Trossachs National Park.
Launched in 2012, the Mazda CX-5 has notched up over 70,000 sales in the UK and now makes up around 25 per cent of total UK sales making it a significant success for the Japanese manufacturer.
The new, 2022 version has been suitably revised with redesigned front and rear bumpers, new headlight and taillight clusters as well as a new 3D grille which is mated to Mazda’s signature wing-trim that no longer intrudes into the lamp cluster. The overall effect is a sharper look at the front end – much like the new Mazda3 model, albeit not quite so pretty – and a more modern looking rear end. Not a million miles away from the previous model but more significant than a “facelift”, I would say. The CX-5 has always been one of the best-looking SUVs available and these updates strengthen its claim.
More significant changes have been made to the line-up and trim options with the UK getting a choice of 20 different models and five trim levels: SE-L, Newground, Sport, Sport Black and GT Sport. For the first time, individual model grades feature subtle styling differences to give customers the option of choosing a CX-5 with a unique character.
As before, the entry point to the CX-5 range is the SE-L model (£28,145) which is offered with either the 165ps Skyactiv-G petrol or 150ps Skyactiv-D engine. Making its debut with the CX-5, and offered exclusively with the 165ps Skyactiv-G engine, the Newground model features a slightly more rugged look with front and rear silver under-guard trims matched to silver lower body side skirts, black door mirrors and 19-inch black diamond cut alloy wheels.
Subtle lime green accents in the grille are replicated inside with lime green air vent trims, while the Newground’s black half leatherette seats have matching green stitching. The boot features a reversible waterproof cargo board, while the Newground can be specified in the new Zircon Sand Metallic paint colour.
Predicted to be the biggest seller in the UK, the Sport model is offered with a choice of 165ps Skyactiv-G petrol or 150ps and 184ps Skyactiv-D diesel. The higher output diesel is offered with a choice of front or all-wheel drive. Matched exclusively to an automatic gearbox this 184ps Skyactiv-D AWD Sport (£36,505) is the entry point of Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system.
As previously, the new CX-5 is a comfortable and classy place to be sat. Interior trim is well screwed together and there is plenty of soft-touch material to be had with only the entry-level SE-L model feeling a little wanting.
The 10.25in infotainment screen is placed perfectly on the central dash to be easily seen, while the rotary controller and buttons between the front seats means you’re not jabbing a finger at the screen while on the move. It’s definitely one of the better control systems and one you easily get a feel for. The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes music and real-time sat nav streaming as easy as pie.
The 2022 CX-5 introduces Mazda Intelligent Drive select (Mi-Drive) on petrol automatic models, which enables the driver to select the most appropriate drive mode with one touch of a switch. On 194ps petrol GT Sport models the i-Activ AWD system now benefits from an Off-Road Mode, which makes driving feel more natural on un-made and slippery surfaces.
Mazda’s next generation of Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture technology has now been applied to the new CX-5, further evolving the bodyshell, suspension and seats to enhance ride comfort and reduce fatigue, while road noise has also been greatly reduced, particularly when driving on rough surfaces such as gravel. I must say that I found noise-levels very well muted – especially so in the petrol variants I drove.
There’s an updated range of i-Activsense safety systems standard across the range, which now includes Cruise & Traffic Support (CTS) which helps reduce driver fatigue by assisting with accelerator, brake pedal and steering operations when stuck in traffic jams.
During the day’s driving I managed to get behind the wheel of 3 different models – 2 diesel and one petrol and found myself warming to the 2.0-litre, 165 PS, 2WD Sport Black petrol model. I found it the most responsive and fun to drive although the 2.2-litre diesel models (184 PS, 2WD Sport Diesel and 150 PS, 2WD SE-L Diesel) certainly didn’t disgrace themselves.
The CX-5 is a satisfying SUV to drive, no matter what the powerplant and I may well have preferred the diesel in 4WD guise. However, unless you need to tow a large caravan, I would heartily recommend one of the more-refined petrol models.
In summary, I would say the 2022 CX-5 improves on an already impressive mid-sized SUV. It’s perfect for the family driver who also wishes his car to handle well and doesn’t feel like just another “school-run, shopper.” Mazda put a lot of effort into making their vehicles appeal to the driver who likes to drive – and it shows. The MX-5 gene runs through the whole Mazda range, including its CX models – and for that, drivers everywhere should be grateful.
2022 Mazda CX-5 facts:
5 trim grades
Range starts at £28,145 for the 2.0-litre 165ps SE-L
2-Wheel-Drive and 4-Wheel-Drive models available
Improved ride quality
Improved off-road capability
Enhanced driver aids and safety features
20 models to choose from
My pick of the bunch: Mazda CX-5 165 PS 2WD Sport (£31,245 OTR)