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The Top Gear car review:Mazda CX-5
What is it like on the road?
We’ve had quick goes with every engine on offer in the new CX-5 – both versions of the 2.2-litre diesel as well as the 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol. All pre-production, not that they felt it – a few bits of interior trim excepted.
The 2.5-litre petrol that does the business in the US isn’t coming to the UK, but you shouldn’t care because predictably it’s those diesels that are going to win Europe, bad PR notwithstanding. Mazda reckons it’s the less powerful one that will sell in greater numbers. It has 148bhp and 280lb ft, is available with front- or all-wheel drive, and either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. They claim 56mpg and 132g/km for the likely best-seller – a front-wheel drive manual.
The more powerful of the two engines has an extra 25bhp and 30lb ft, but while you still get a choice of gearboxes, you’re forced into AWD, adding cost and affecting fuel economy and emissions. There’s not much between them, so we’d stick with the small one. With a manual, because Mazda do good ones (the auto’s good too, admittedly). You only feel the difference between the two engines right at the very top of the rev range, and you’re never going to take them there, so what does it matter?
The petrol isn’t worth bothering with. Even though the relative lack of weight over the front wheels make it the most fun to drive, it’s in dire need of a bit more mid-range grunt. Or, ahem, a turbocharger…
Not that the diesels are bad to drive. Far from it, in fact. They’re just a bit heavier over the nose. Besides, prospective owners are hardly going to be driving these things everywhere on their doorhandles. All CX-5s get something called G-Vectoring Control, which rather than vectoring torque across the axle, takes a little bit of torque away from the front wheels when you turn in. This shifts weight forward over the front axle. As you accelerate through and out of the bend said torque is restored, shifting weight backwards to aid stability. Mazda’s also mucked about with the steering, suspension, (optional) AWD and upped chassis rigidity by 15 per cent.
And sure enough, considering its stature, the CX-5 handles very well. Good steering – nicely and consistently weighted – commendable body-control, decent ride-quality, loads of grip…it’s right up there with the Seat Ateca and Ford Kuga, fighting for best-in-class honours.