We drove the Mazda CX-5 194 HP AWD: Sportiness, style and refinement…

Introduced in our market in 2012, Mazda launched a second generation of its SUV bestseller in 2017. The styling is further improved, the car has more power and handling is now even more inviting than ever. The CX-5 is besides this sportiness also a very refined SUV, with very low interior noise levels and offering roominess and comfort. We drove the top Skycruise equipment level with AWD, 6 speed auto and a very impressive 2.5 liter SKYACTIV engine, and needless to say, this CX-5 proved a very charming companion indeed…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


We are not telling you a secret when we say that the Mazda people attach great importance to style and fluent contours of their cars. The new front grille treatment of the CX-5 is a good example in case. The typical shape, reminiscent of the V6 Lancia sports racing cars, notably the Lancia D24 (just look at my drawing when comparing the Ring lap times of Sabine Schmitz in the Skoda Kodiaq) is very well chosen, timeless and iconic, and is now even more refined, elegant and more accentuated. It really makes the car stand out from the crowd.

The roof line of this SUV has been lowered, to give the car also sideways a more elegant and dynamic stance. We also liked the sculpted side panels and the upward swinging chromium strip at the slender C-pillar. Our test car had the Soul Red Christal paint finish which suited it quite well, as the photos show. Mazda has a premium paint technology, aptly called TAKUMI-NURI, where TAKUMI stands for craftmanship, and indeed this CX-5 is superbly finished. The intelligent slender LD-headlights, 19 inch alloy wheels and LED rear lights complete the picture.

The same aura of elegance is found in the interior. Our test car came with the optional white leather interior, and the dashboard is uncluttered with a three circular dial display facing the driver and a 7 inch touchscreen in the centre console. The infotainment and all the knobs and handles of this Mazda are simple and intuitive to use, and their functions are so arranged that the cabin and dashboard remains clean and simple with a minimum of knobs and handles.

The general layout and ergonomics is indeed an example of simplicity and practicality. Of course, the centre console houses two USB slots, ample room to tuck away your smartphone or I pad touch or any other device, and the top of the range Bose 10 speaker sound system spoils you with velvet sound, and certainly did we enjoy again our piano sonatas and female jazz voices… all the more because the Mazda CX-5 is a remarkably quiet car, of which more later.

It was refreshing to see two analog dials for revs and speed, with a third round dial acting as a 4,6 inch TFT color screen displaying various functions like lane assist indication, trip data, instant fuel consumption etc.

We also liked the very clear head up display, adding to fully relaxing driving.

Drivetrain full of refinement and character

Our test car came with the SKYACTIV-G 194 HP (143 kW) 2488 cc four cylinder, super smooth and vibrationless, which propelled the CX-5 in the “normal” driving mode with utmost silence, refinement and zest.

A marvelous engine, which is very flexible, and indeed as unobtrusive as an electric engine in normal driving conditions, being virtually inaudible. Only when starting up,  one hears the typical Mazda rather sporting combustion sound, which abates after a few seconds when the catalyzer is sufficiently warmed up to function. Mated to the smooth and alert 6 speed “i-ACTIV” auto box, this is a velvety combination, offering sufficiently brisk performance in all driving conditions.

Of course, Mazda cars are designed with an eye for the driver, and therefore they have installed the “sport” mode, which can be chosen with a simple forward flick of the switch on the centre console. The engine now revs up with a beautiful sporting staccato, as the gearbox changes down and let the engine use its superb pulling power and torque. Indeed, this big four cylinder actually develops its maximum torque of 258 Nm at 4,000 rpm, so in the rev range between 4,000 and up to 6,000 rpm where it develops its maximum power, this engine sounds heavenly and then shows what it can do, and any driver with a sporting heart just revels at this. We certainly did! This driving experience is of course reminiscent of the MX-5, which also fills you with joy when you floor the throttle. Performance is therefore quite impressive for a 1,4 tonne SUV, with a 0 to 100 acceleration time in 9,2 seconds and a top speed of not less than 192 km/h.

The 4,6 inch TFT color screen displaying various functions like lane assist indication…

and trip info, fuel consumption, etc… 

All this lively performance is combined with very pleasant, precise and agile handling, indeed, sporting steering pleasure can be had with this CX-5, and taking winding open roads and mountain passes with this SUV with verve does not feel out of place at all. On the contrary, the Mazda typical, legendary “Inba Ittai” – the unity between the car and its driver like the harmony between horse and its rider (see our drawing and the report of the upgraded MX-5)  – is certainly felt and fully enjoyed. Don’t forget that G-Vectoring is installed, which means that engine torque is varied according to the steering wheel movements.

All this is not at the expense of ride comfort, and this CX-5 is an ideal companion on long (fast) Gran Turismo trips. This is also where the utter silence of the drivetrain, and the very well suppressed road and wind noise comes fully into play. Uneven pavés in narrow city streets are also taken well in its stride.

Last but not least there is the i-ACTIV 4WD, which has not less than 27 sensors for optimal power distribution. Up to 50 % of the power is ten instantly transferred to the rear wheels.

Our test car came with a plethora of driving aids, like adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, active lane assistant, city brake assistant, where a laser sensor automatically activates the braking system at speeds up to 80 km/h. It also brakes for obstacles when backing up at speeds up to 8 km/h.

SKYACTIV economy

Of course, one cannot expect miracles with a large 2,5 liter gasoline engine for a mid-size automatic 4WD SUV. But Mazda comes pretty close, and we clocked as average for our test a very creditable 8,1 l/100 km, which included a lot of short distance city driving. The i-E-LOOP regenerates brake energy too. The manufacturer quotes 7,1 l as official driving cycle average, with 8,7 liter for the city cycle. CO2 emissions are set at 162 g/km.

Spacious cabin

There is quite enough leg and headroom for even the tallest fore and aft, and boot space is a standard 506 liter, with the rear seat backrests fully down, some 1620 liter are available.



A stylish, superbly engineered and built SUV, which offers genuine driving pleasure, combined with uncanny smoothness and quietness, making it an utterly relaxing car to drive day after day in town and for hours on end on long voyages. Cabin and boot space are quite generous, quality of materials and finish level are top notch, and altogether the Mazda is quite stylish, both inside and out. Engine, gearbox, AWD and suspension are utterly impressive and bear witness to the very high level of mechanical perfection Mazda builds in its cars. We would suggest, take a test drive, and be convinced, as we are…

Hans Knol ten Bensel