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Facelifted Mazda CX-5 pretty convincing SUV

17:28 25 June 2015

It

It's the little things that make Mazda's facelifted and fine-driving CX-5 crossover even better to live with.

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Minor revisions that make big differences help keep the chunky Mazda sport utility vehicle where it needs to be, says Matt Kimberley.

What’s new?

The CX-5 led Mazda’s charge back to winning ways in 2012 with the striking ‘Kodo’ styling that was then rolled out on everything else from the 2 supermini to the 6 flagship saloon and Tourer estate. This is the first time a Kodo car has been updated, so as you can imagine Mazda has kept the visual changes to a minimum.

On the inside, the MZD infotainment system has been revised and you’ll find some of the main buttons in a more intuitive place between the front seats. Small things can make big differences.

Mazda CX-5

Price: Mazda CX-5 2.2 150PS SE-L Lux Nav £26,395 (range £22,295 to £30,595)

Engine: 2.2-litre, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 9.2 seconds; top speed 125mph

MPG: 61.4 combined

CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Looks and image

You’d have to argue that the CX-5 has been the prettiest member of the compact sport utility vehicle class since it was launched. Nothing has changed too much on that front, with a tweak here and a lift there. Soft lines and muscular shapes combine to hide the car’s size exceptionally well. The Mazda is bigger than a Nissan Qashqai, but it doesn’t look it.

Something has always held this car’s sales back versus the sector sales leaders, though, even if a few hours with the car leaves me clueless as to why. It holds its own against any rival you care to name, but perhaps something in the CX-5’s image is struggling to shout loud enough to be heard over the crowd. You be the judge.

Space and practicality

An average height man in the driving seat of the manual version leaves plenty of legroom behind himself. People tend to sit a bit further away in the automatic version, though, to stretch their legs a bit more, while those who sit closer to the wheel leave limo-like space for rear-seat passengers.

The boot is pretty huge, with a recessed bin at the side that can keep bottles or cartons from rolling or sliding around the rest of the load bay. A capacious covered bin between the front seats also has a removable coin tray. Handy.

Behind the wheel

While the 150PS and 175PS 2.2-litre diesel boast low emissions, they could do with more soundproofing. The engine grumbles and growls away – not unpleasantly but certainly more loudly than it could.

It really drives sweetly, though, with a marvellous gearbox inspired by the MX-5 sports car’s and body control that sits between the sporty and the comfortable. It grips like a limpet, feels instantly driver-friendly and the only factor that takes some getting used to is on the manual 165PS 2.0-litre petrol models, which have springy clutches and such instant throttle response that it can be hard to be really smooth when setting off.

Worth noting is the redesigned MZD system control layout, which works a treat. The system itself is possibly the most intuitive and capable system you’ll find anywhere in cardom, quickly leading you to the options and sub-menus that you want.

Value for money

At the top end of the range the CX-5 gets expensive. It’s more spacious than some of its big-selling rivals, though, so the price tag isn’t without justification. The rubberised finish of some interior surfaces is a bit utilitarian for a car of this price, but the high-riding Mazda’s attributes lie elsewhere. It feels like solid value for money in the middle of the range.

Who would buy one?

The fluency with which it drives, relative to its more straight-laced rivals, is a unique selling point in the sector. It’s also a bit of a looker and comes complete with a towering driving position, lots of legroom for five and a boot big enough to create echoes. It’s a family car, then, but one for parents who really take pride in their choice and want something they can consciously enjoy owning.

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