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Car reviews - Mazda - CX-5 - 5-dr wagon

Overview

The excellent Mazda CX-5 sets a new compact SUV benchmark

Mazda logo27 Feb 2012

WHY are ‘compact’ SUVs generally so samey and inferior to drive compared to their small-car counterparts? Since the sassy CX-7 arrived in late 2006 Mazda alone seemed to have happily bucked that trend, creating one of the few enjoyable crossovers under $50,000. Now, though, its cheaper, shorter and more upright CX-5 successor has surfaced, with intent to ‘hit the SUV sweet spot’ according to Mazda – and that sounds an awful lot like a threat to bore us. But we needn’t have worried because once again Mazda has shown us how to do an SUV with style.

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Model release date: 1 February 2012 to 1 January 2015

Previous model

CX-7

Released: November 2006
Ended: February 2012
Family Tree: CX-5

WHAT a brash and bold breath of fresh air the CX-7 was – and still is really – in what is generally a staid and conservative class. Larger, longer and more expensive than the vanilla Tribute (2001-2008) that it eventually replaced, the CX-7 was pitched as a high-performance SUV flagship, and came with plenty of go to match the head-turning show. Cribbed from the stealthy Mazda6 MPS AWD of the time, the drivetrain boasted a 175kW/350Nm 2.3-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, driving all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Initially offered in base and Luxury guises, the only thing higher than the generous equipment levels was the fuel consumption – an issue that saw this otherwise sure-fire hit struggle at a time when petrol prices were sky-high. Minor equipment changes occurred during mid-’07, but it wasn’t until the Series II arrived in October ’09 that the CX-7 really broke through, thanks to a new base front-wheel-drive Classic powered by a variation of Mazda’s trusty 120kW/205Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol unit (mated to a five-speed auto) and a well-received 127kW/400Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel – although its lack of an auto option hindered its market potential.

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