2015 Mazda CX-5 Maxx AWD review
Mark Higgins’ 2015 Mazda CX-5 Maxx AWD review with price, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
In a nutshell : There’s no let up in the love affair Aussies have with SUVs and king of the heap is the Mazda CX-5. Its appealing looks, roominess, practicality and decent road manners have seen it win the hearts of almost 60,000 owners in just three years.
ONE OF THE DARLINGS of Australian new car buyers, the Mazda CX-5 is winning over new buyers left, right and centre. Recently refreshed for 2015, we got behind the wheel of the entry-level all-wheel drive CX-5 Maxx, which is priced from $32,190 (+ORC). And that makes this model just a few hundred dollars cheaper than the recently refreshed 2015 Subaru Forester 2.0i-L (auto) – $32,990+ORC; the manual is cheaper ($29,990+ORC).
Our test car was finished in white (Soul Red Metallic paint attracts a $200 price premium – pictured) with plain-looking steel wheels which made the CX-5 look a bit bland to our eyes and drew your gaze away from the swooping KODO Soul of Motion design language that has put Mazda into the big league in terms of design.
The CX-5 gets the brand’s signature five-point grille that meshes into the rectangular halogen headlamps, which didn’t seem that bright (but I’m used to Xenon lights on my own car which, I think, cast a cleaner light). There’s little point in detailing the looks of the CX-5 as it’s only the grille and headlight design that were refreshed, the rest of the car was a case of, it if ain’t broke, which it isn’t, then…
Like the exterior, the fit and finish of the interior was excellent with no panel gaps, loose materials, squeaks or rattles detected in our week of testing. The three-spoke steering wheel with multi function buttons, has a good level of reach and rake adjustability, while the comfortable black cloth seats afforded plenty of fore and aft range, plus height adjustment for the driver. Offering good underthigh support and excellent vision right the way around the car meant that even longer drivers were a doddle.
Both front and back rows provide good leg, head and shoulder room for the two occupants up front and two (adults comfortably) or three (kids only) on the 60/40 split fold rear seat. The CX-5 offers 403 litres of boot space, which is smaller than Honda’s CR-V (556 litres). Laying the seats down increases it to 1560 litres. Prying eyes were kept at bay thanks to a cargo blind that lifted up and out of the way when the tailgate was raised, meaning you didn’t have to keep unlatching and the reattaching a blind like you have to do on some of its competitors.
Mazda has worked hard to reduce the number of buttons inside the car; you could almost say, in this day and age of button overload in some cars, that it was minimalist. And the clean lines with silver metallic and gloss black highlights give the interior a classy feel you don’t normally expect from a car costing $30k. The speedo, tacho and multifunction trip display were housed in a three satin ring cluster that matches the circular HVAC controls in the console.
The centre dash offers a seven-inch colour touch screen with (MZD Connect) that displays reversing camera, compass – (as sat-nav is a cost option), audio and communication, including accessing the internet and social media networks.
Below that sits an electric park brake switch, cupholders, a phone cubby, a driver’s armrest, USB ports, the driving mode switch and the mouse for the aforementioned screen and multi-media menus. The (speakers/watts) audio system delivered excellent sound and although pairing the phone was easy, constant loud static was very annoying and ended several calls prematurely.
The six-speed automatic gearbox features Mazda’s ‘Drive Selection’ with two driving modes, Normal and Sport. Normal is the default setting and it provides acceptable performance with smooth acceleration and gear shifts. Switching to Sport allows the engine to hold onto revs a little longer, and sharpens both the gear shift and throttle response. Speaking of the engine, the CX-5 Maxx runs a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, SKYACTIV-G engine which produces 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 4000rpm. This is mated to a six-speed automatic only; only the 2WD CX-5 Maxx is available with a manual gearbox.
While the CX-5’s engine is happy to rev and revs cleanly right through to redline, engine noise, in the upper rev range, does intrude into the cabin. And while Mazda’s official fuel consumption figure is 7.4L/100km we returned 7.9L/100km for the week, thanks in no small part to the thing’s stop/start function. A sensitive set-up, even the slightest lift on the brake, or a tug at the steering wheel was enough to see the car burst into life.
Mazda, with the 2015 refresh, says it did a lot of work on the suspension and the NVH to suppress road noise. Mazda says it wanted the CX-5 to offer a “smoother, flatter ride” and largely it’s done that. Sure, there’s still some bodyroll through corners and you can still here the road, although it’s more suppressed than in the 2014 model, but ultimately Mazda’s been successful in what it wanted to achieve. Indeed, it was the poise and agility of the CX-5 through longer corners that underlined the excellent work of the Mazda engineering team.
The steering was light, which makes parking a snap but weight builds with speed with acceptable levels of feedback offered. The brakes felt solid and reassuring and generally it felt more like a big hatch than a soft-roader to drive.
Standard kit in the entry level CX-5 Maxx AWD includes halogen headlamps, power mirrors and windows, remote central locking electric parking brake, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel, trip computer, seven-inch colour touch screen, audio system with AM/FM tuner, single disc CD player (MP3 compatible) and 4 speakers, Bluetooth, internet radio integration (Pandora, Stitcher and Aha), multi-function commander control, USB-audio input ports (iPod compatible), reversing camera, cruise control and keyless push-button engine start.
On the safety front, the Mazda CX-5 gets a five-star ANCAP rating with front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes, stability control, emergency stop signal, hill start assist, emergency stop signal, ISOFIX child restraint anchor points and tyre pressure monitoring.
Service intervals are every 10,000kms with the first one costing $299 and the second $326. Roadside assist will set you back a minimum of $68.10 a year and the warranty covers the CX-5 for three years or 100,000kms