Mazda CX-5 2017 -

First Drive

Mazda CX-5, front action 2
Mazda CX-5, front action
Mazda CX-5, side static
Mazda CX-5, rear static
Mazda CX-5, front static
Mazda CX-5, dashboard
Mazda CX-5, boot 1
Mazda CX-5, phone tray
Mazda CX-5, rear view camera
Mazda CX-5, rear seats
Mazda CX-5, boot 2
Mazda CX-5, speaker

MAZDA is launching a stealth attack on the premium SUV sector with its latest CX-5, taking over from the model that was the company's biggest seller in the UK.

And the way you convince people your car is a class act is to make it quieter, says the company aiming to take sales away from the likes of VW and, whisper it, even Audi.

So the new car is heavier than the old one, in a world where brownie points are won by making cars lighter, because so much extra sonic deadening has been applied.

Nearly 50kgs, to be precise, or the weight of two extremely heavily loaded suitcases. And what a difference it makes, adding instant hush to a cabin that generates so little racket at speed you might never raise your voice again (except perhaps to tell the kids in the back to quieten down).

This hush-hush push is one of the ways you'll tell new CX-5 from old, and so is the body shape, although you might need to pose both versions side by side to notice.

Every exterior panel has been changed but Mazda has been understandably careful to preserve the lines of a car that sold partly because it looked so good in the first place. It still does, but with thinner LED headlights and sharper creases adding a touch of classy drama.

Inside, all is changed too but Mazda has kept the sense of order you feel in its all its cars, so there is a lot of nicely applied blackness, set off a little by a dash insert that looks like the viciously expensive layering of a Japanese knife. It works well and, yes, adds to the premium feel dust Mazda is keen to sprinkle on the newcomer.

Adding class has added to the bottom line too, with prices up and now starting at £23,695 for a slow selling petrol version, a £200 lift. The likely biggest seller, the diesel CX-5 with 150 horsepower engine and front-wheel drive is up £900 and now costs from £25,695. The range tops out at £33,195 for a 175 horsepower car with automatic gears and all-wheel drive in Sport trim.

That is unless you are tempted by one of the pleasantly few options. There is only one non-chargeable paint (a flat white) so any other finish will cost at least £560, with a new version of Mazda's fetching and popular soul red adding a hefty £800.

Beneath the familiar but all-new body beat a trio of engines carried over from the previous car; a 2.0 litre 165 horsepower petrol unit and a couple of 2.256.5/ litre diesels with either 150 or 175 horsepower.

Their respective CO2 emissions are 149/132/142 g/km and official average fuel consumption 44.1/56.5/52.3 mpg - all as you'd expect and well in line with the opposition.

There are two trim levels, with SE-L Nav offering 17 ins alloys, cruise control, DAB radio and Bluetooth, a navigation system with three years free European map updates and dual-zone climate control.

Move up to Sport Nav and for an extra £3,000 you add 19 ins alloy wheels, reversing camera, powered tailgate, power adjustment for the driver's seat, black leather trim, head up display in the windscreen, heated steering wheel and a glass tilt and slide sunroof on the 175 horsepower model. There's also a 10 speaker Bose sound system, heard all the better in the newly quietened interior.

Tempting options are few but include stone coloured leather in place of black for £200 on Sport Nav models, radar cruise control (£800) and a safety pack (£800) that includes adaptive LED headlights, lane keeping assist (easily switched off it annoys you) and rear cross traffic alert, to warn as you back onto a busy road.

Most drivers will spend their three years or so with the 150 horsepower diesel doing the donkey work. They will find it a pleasantly refined companion, only raising its voice when really provoked, which you rarely need to do.

It showed 44mpg on a demanding and briskly driven Scottish test route and a typically Mazda-slick manual gearchange made the car feel even mildly sporty, with a nicely damped ride to go with it.

A more powerful 175 horsepower diesel, driven more gently but with automatic gears, showed the same 44mpg but felt much less responsive than the more modestly powered model. It did feel notably refined and grown up, though.

The much less in demand petrol engine lacked the low down punch of the diesels (as expected, of course) but its lighter front end made the steering usefully more eager and the cabin stayed hushed even when the engine was working hard.

A gentle main road drive ended with the best economy of the lot, at 48mpg. The diesels would have done better still.

So, a choice of economical engines in a handsome car that drives well and is drawing room quiet inside. No wonder more than half all new Mazdas sold here will be one of them.

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