Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD Diesel review

Isaac Bober’s first drive 2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell The Mazda CX-5 is one of the best cars in its class to drive, offers a thrifty and yet grunty diesel engine, and makes a useful, if pricey, family car.

Practical Motoring says Combining passenger car looks with SUV ride height and practicality, the Mazda CX-5 GT AWD has become one of Australia’s most popular SUVs. The 129kW/420Nm turbo-diesel engine offers plenty of grunt and the ride and handling is good although not class-leading. In the end, the CX-5 should be on any SUV buyers’s shortlist, but the competition in this segment is stiff.

THE MAZDA CX-5, as we’ve reported elsewhere, is an all-new model with everything from the engine to the transmission and the chassis, and even the design of the interior getting its first run in the compact SUV. And the thing has clearly resonated with Australians who’ve been buying it in droves.

The big news with the CX-5 when it first hit the street was its debut of the full suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies, which intended to keep the ‘zoom-zoom’ feel of a Mazda while making it as fuel efficient as possible.

That meant, for instance, Mazda used lighter and stronger materials for the suspension system and did the same for the body too thanks to a greater use of high-tensile steel. It also meant adding stop/start to all engines (Mazda calls it i-stop), and much more. In the end, Mazda did what it set out to do, it made a more efficient family-sized SUV.

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD Diesel review

The model we’re testing is the upper-spec CX-5 GT (for Grand Touring) which is priced from $43,780 (+ORC). It’s available with either a 2.5-litre four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G petrol engine producing 138kW (at 5700rpm) and 250Nm (at 4000rpm), or a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder SKYACTIV-D engine making 129kW (at 4500rpm) and 420Nm (at 2000rpm) – this is the engine in our test car. This is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and returns a combined fuel consumption of 5.7L/100km.

As good as the petrol engine is in the CX-5 and it is indeed very good, it’s the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder that’s my pick. See, not only does it offer more grunt than the petrol it also uses less fuel (6.4L/100km vs 5.7L/100km). The diesel, as you’d imagine, has got plenty of low-down grunt from just off idle and yet remains enthusiastic when peak torque falls off from 2000rpm.

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD Diesel review

Mazda’s SKYACTIV push (reducing weight, increasing rigidity and more efficient engines) has doubtless made the CX-5 lighter and more fuel efficient but it hasn’t helped as much on the handling front as Mazda perhaps would have liked. See, no matter how efficient you make your SUV it’s still a high-riding SUV with all the usual trade-offs that brings.

That said, the Mazda’s done a commendable job on the chassis and suspension and while the CX-5 doesn’t knock off segment handling leaders like the Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, or the Subaru XV, it’s right there in the mix with them. The steering is nice and direct with just enough weight and feel to keep you connected to the doings of the machine. There’s enough give in the suspension to handle poorer surfaces, while decent body control keeps movements fluid and predictable with minimal bodyroll.

An attractive-looking SUV, the CX-5 tends more towards passenger car looks than the rugged, rough-road styling of, say, the Subaru XV or Skoda Yeti. Based on Mazda’s ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design language, the CX-5 is meant to convey a sense of functionality and agility. And it mostly does that.

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD Diesel review

Inside, the CX-5 feels practical rather than luxurious and while most things you touch in the cabin are soft, there’s still the odd smattering of hard, scratchy plastic on door trims and the like. And while there’s plenty of room inside for both front and backseat passengers, I found the base of the seat to be a little too short leading to my thighs beginning to ache on longer journeys (my daily commute is exactly 100km one way). The dash and all of the controls are neatly laid out and easy to get the hang of while on the fly. Behind the back seat there’s 403 litres of storage space which grows to 1560 litres if you fold the seats down.

The CX-5 GT AWD Diesel is priced from $47,030 (+ORC) while the petrol-engined version is priced from $44,180 (+ORC). For that you get: Bi-Xenon headlamps with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), daytime running lamps, power sliding and tilt glass sunroof, rear view mirror with auto dimming function, leather seat trim, driver’s seat with eight-way power adjustment and power lumbar support, heated front seats, smart keyless entry, parking sensors (front and rear), reversing camera, and 19 inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres with a full-size steel spare wheel.

In terms of safety, the Mazda CX-5 receives a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating as well as standard front, side and curtain SRS airbags, traction and stability control and also, of course, all-wheel drive on this GT variant. The CX-5 GT also gets the previously mentioned front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD Diesel

Price From $47,030 (+ORC)
Warranty three-years, unlimited kilometres
Safety five-star ANCAP
Engine 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Power/Torque 129kW/420Nm
Transmission six-speed automatic
Body 4540mm (L); 1840mm (W); 1710mm (H)
Weight 1685kg
Thirst 5.7L/100km (combined)


Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober