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Driven: Mazda to retain top spot with new CX-5

Back for more: Mazda says it believes current CX-5 owners will be key to the sales success of the new-gen model.

All-new CX-5 will retain its SUV sales crown, according to Mazda boss

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Mazda logo31 Mar 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

MAZDA expects its second-generation CX-5 to retain its title as Australia’s favourite SUV despite its strong competition, thanks to a fresh new look, an increase in standard features and improved cabin comfort.

The new-gen CX-5 is on sale in Australia now, just four months after its reveal at last year’s Los Angeles motor show, with Mazda reporting significant interest in the new model on the back of pre-launch marketing campaigns and a competition to win one.

Speaking at his final media event before retiring this week, outgoing Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders acknowledged the continued growth in the SUV segment and said the Japanese car-maker had three key goals in mind with the CX-5.

He said the company was keen to offer a strong model mix, appeal to existing CX-5 owners and keep its spot at the top of the SUV pile.

“We recognise this growth will not only be fuelled by CX-5 but also new and improved competitor offerings and even additional entrants (in the SUV segment),” he said at the media launch in Queensland this week. “In that context, we believe CX-5 can continue to grow at a modest but solid pace and sustain its place at the top of the segment.”

The CX-5 has been the best selling SUV in Australia for the past four years, after toppling the Toyota Prado in 2013, hitting a high of 25,136 units in 2015.

Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak reiterated Mr Benders’ suggestion that returning buyers would be key to the success of the second-gen car.

“Resale is important for this car,” he said. “You can’t be number one for four years and not talk to those owners again and get a huge amount of interest. We have done our research and we are very confident we are on to a winner.”

Mr Doak added the overall package and the addition of a new variant would ensure the new CX-5 would lure current owners back to their Mazda dealership.

“All the signs are that it will be very successful for us. We are very happy with the value equation we have delivered with equipment and pricing. Touring is a nice addition to the range and we have high hopes for that.

“If you’ve had a Maxx Sport for three to five years and are thinking of upgrading, go and have a chat to your Mazda dealer and there is a new model you can step up and it is not a big walk in terms of price but there are some nice features there that are of real benefit to customers.”

The new CX-5 introduces massive improvements to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, updated styling, a completely redesigned interior, more cabin space and new active safety features, but few changes to the powertrains.

Mazda has added a new mid-range variant, dubbed the Touring, which it believes will fill a gap between the Maxx Sport and the GT and appeal to returning buyers, the majority of which own a Maxx Sport.

Pricing has increased on all variants except the top-spec Akera, with each version of the base Maxx up by $800 each – meaning the two-wheel-drive (FWD) manual 2.0-litre entry version kicks off the line-up from $28,690 plus on-road costs.

The 2.0-litre FWD Maxx is still offered with an auto as well as an all-wheel-drive (AWD) 2.5-litre version.

Maxx Sport variants come in for a $900 price hike and it continues to be offered in FWD 2.0-litre guise, 2.5-litre AWD petrol and 2.2-litre AWD diesel guises, starting at $34,390.

The new Touring grade is available from $38,990 for the 2.5-litre AWD and $41,990 for the 2.2-litre diesel AWD.

GT models rise by $300 and mimic the engine line-up of the Touring and the top-spec Akera that gets a price reduction of $420, topping out at $49,990 for the Akera diesel AWD.

As reported when the CX-5 was revealed, it features an evolutionary new design that is part of the next generation of Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy, with smoother panels and fewer lines. It also adopts slimline head and tail-lights that are similar to the larger CX-9.

The cabin is an all-new design, again borrowing elements from the CX-9, with a horizontal dash theme, more soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels, less fussy centre stack and new air vents.

A new centre console storage box has enough space to place a device in it to charge, while the glovebox can swallow a 10-inch tablet.

Mazda offers four interior packages, including black or pure white leather on Akera and GT, Black Maztex/Black suede on the Touring, and Black cloth on Maxxand Maxx Sport.

A new 7.0-inch touchscreen is clearer than the old version, according to Mazda, and the CX-5 features the latest version of the MZD Connect infotainment system.

The CX-5 is 10mm shorter at 4550mm and 20mm lower at 1690mm than the first-generation model, while the 1840mm width and 2700mm wheelbase remains the same as the outgoing car.

Cargo space is up by 39 litres over the old model to 442 litres.

Under the bonnet, the SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol unit carries over unchanged, delivering 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm and fuel economy of 6.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

This figure is up from the old version’s 6.4L/100km claim, a result of a 40kg weight gain for each CX-5 variant.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit has benefited from some minor tweaks, including asymmetrical oil rings that Mazda says enhances the thicknessof the oil film on the wall of the cylinder as the piston rises and falls, helping to reduce mechanical resistance. Barrel-shaped piston skirts work to enhance surface pressure when load is applied to them.

The output has increased marginally, up 2kW/1Nm to 140kW at 6000rpm and 251Nm at 4000rpm, which has bumped fuel use 0.1L to 7.5L/100km.

Mazda’s 129kW at 4500rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel adopts new tech including High-Precision DE Boost Control, Natural Sound Smoother, and Natural Sound Frequency Control, which the car-maker says helps improve driving performance and quietness.

Fuel use is 6.0L/100km in the oil-burner.

The six-speed manual has been tweaked for a shorter throw and easier operation, while the six-speed auto has a new shift control scheme that predicts the driver’s intentions based on vehicle speed, throttle position and engine speed.

Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel-drive system and the i-stop idle-stop system carries over, while the G-Vectoring Control system introduced on the updated Mazda3 last year is also standard.

The suspension setup remains a MacPherson front and multi-link rear, but larger front damper pistons and new liquid-filled bushings in the front help reduce floating and vibrations.

Mazda says that larger diameter front dampers, fluid-filled bushings and rigid steering mounts have helped improve the chassis tune, while increased use of high-tensile sheet metal has strengthened the body.

The NVH measures have resulted in the CX-5 achieving a level of quietness “roughly equivalent to that of travelling 20km/h slower than on the previous model,” Mazda says.

The rejigged dampers have helped reduce road noise, while tyre noise was reduced by using sealant to close the gaps between the body panels below the B-pillars.

Wind noise was reduced by placing the windscreen wipers below the bonnet and redesigning the exterior mirrors and A-pillar.

Standard gear on the Maxx includes 17-inch steel wheels, power mirrors, black cloth trim, 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat, 7.0-inch touchscreen, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, keyless start, blind-spot monitor, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, rear cross-traffic alert, and Smart City Brake Support.

The Maxx Sport adds 17-inch alloys, front fog-lights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control air-con, satellite navigation and rear air vents.

New Touring variants include power mirrors, head-up display, keyless entry, front parking sensors and traffic sign recognition.

The GT adds 19-inch alloys, remote power tailgate, adaptive front lighting, glass sunroof, advanced head-up display, black or white leather trim, 10-speaker Bose stereo and 10-way (driver) and six-way (passenger) power seat adjustment.

Finally, the Akera adds i-Activsense active safety features including adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, adaptive LED headlights, driver attention warning, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, a side camera and smart brake support.

2017 Mazda CX-5 pricing*
Maxx 2.0L petrol FWD$28,690(+$800)
Maxx 2.0L petrol FWD (a)$30,690(+$800)
Maxx 2.5L petrol AWD (a)$33,690(+$800)
Maxx Sport 2.0L petrol FWD (a)$34,390(+$900)
Maxx Sport 2.5L petrol AWD (a)$37,390(+$900)
Maxx Sport 2.2L diesel AWD (a)$40,390(+$900)
Touring 2.5L petrol AWD (a)$38,990(new)
Touring 2.2L diesel AWD (a)$41,990(new)
GT 2.5L petrol AWD (a)$44,390(+$300)
GT 2.2L diesel AWD (a)$47,390(+$300)
Akera 2.5L petrol AWD (a)$46,990(-$420)
Akera 2.2L diesel AWD (a)$49,990(-$420)
*Excludes on-road costs

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