The Mazda CX-5 has become a staple of Australian motoring. It’s currently the top-selling model for our market’s second best-selling brand.
Since the nameplate’s genesis in 2012, the CX-5 has blended smart design with city-friendly dimensions and a zoom zoom fun-to-drive character. A decade on, it continues to push upward.
The second-generation CX-5 received a mild refresh earlier this year, some six years after its introduction, giving the popular crossover a more angular look and bringing about some new features and technologies.
We covered the Australian launch here, now we’re getting a closer look at the 2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP 2.5T AWD.
It’s pitched as something of a ‘black pack’ or ‘sports pack’ model to duke it out with the R-Lines, ST-Lines, GT-Lines and N Lines of the world, while also offering punchy turbocharged performance.
Is Mazda’s old faithful still a frontrunner in Australia’s most popular vehicle segment? Or are newer, fresher rivals starting to edge ahead?
The updated CX-5 range kicks off at $32,490 plus on-road costs for the price-leading CX-5 Maxx with the smaller 2.0-litre petrol engine, front-wheel drive, and a manual transmission. All other variants are auto-only.
On test we have the second-most expensive GT SP with the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine, priced from $51,490 before on-roads. According to the Mazda’s configurator, this model is $56,511 drive-away using a Melbourne postcode.
Mazda’s popular mid-sizer continues to have one of the most comprehensive ranges in the segment.
2022 Mazda CX-5 pricing:
- Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0 FWD manual: $32,490
- Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.0 FWD: $34,490
- Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.5 FWD: $38,290
- Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 2.5 AWD: $40,690
- Mazda CX-5 Touring 2.5 AWD: $42,580
- Mazda CX-5 Touring Active 2.5 AWD: $42,880
- Mazda CX-5 Touring Active 2.2D AWD: $45,880
- Mazda CX-5 GT SP 2.5 AWD: $48,990
- Mazda CX-5 GT SP 2.5T AWD: $51,490
- Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.5 AWD: $50,880
- Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.5T AWD: $53,480
- Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.2D AWD: $53,880
Prices exclude on-road costs
There’s little to distinguish the facelifted CX-5’s cabin from its forebears, with the exception perhaps being the standard wireless smartphone charging pad on higher trims.
In the GT SP, the only notable changes are the perforated leather inserts for the seats compared to MY21’s suede inner-seat trim, and the standard inclusion of the 7.0-inch driver’s instrument display previously exclusive to the Akera.
Up front the seats are comfortable and feature electric adjustment for both the driver and passenger – the former getting more extensive 10-way adjustment with memory functions, where the front passenger only gets six-ways.
Comfort and support is pretty good, though long-legged folks like myself (6’1) may lust for a longer or extendable seat base like you’ll find in most European rivals. It’s a complaint I’ve raised in my reviews of the CX-8 and CX-9, also.
I’m glad the 10.25-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system features as standard in the GT SP, though it’s a shame this improved unit is not standard across the line-up like the 7.0-inch driver’s display which is now standard on all models.
The high-resolution display continues to lack touchscreen inputs – we’ll have to wait for the CX-60 for that, which allows for touch functionality when using smartphone mirroring – which means all functions are controlled by the stubby rotary dial on the transmission tunnel, a-la BMW iDrive.
It also doesn’t have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which renders the new wireless smartphone charging pad redundant if you’re using smartphone mirroring.
Complaints aside, the slick graphics, snappy response times and user-friendly menus make this a vast improvement over the ageing MZD Connect interface, which sadly is the sole system available on any lower CX-5 variant than the GT SP we have on test.
Adding to the infotainment and tech chops is the 10-speaker Bose premium sound system with 249-watt amplifier, which offers crisp, deep sound. Fiddle with the levels and you can get thumping bass without sacrificing the clarity.
Storage in the first row is decent but not standout, with cupholders between the front seats, the aforementioned wireless phone charger which doubles as a shelf, a deep centre cubby under the padded centre armrest, and bottle holders in the doors.
The second row has never been the CX-5’s strong point, and that remains the case in 2022. It’s made more obvious as the competition has moved on, in particular given the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Mitsubishi Outlander have grown in their latest iterations to offer rear accommodation not far off large SUVs.
If you’re on the taller side like me, leg- and knee room are on the tighter side for the class, but it’s still serviceable unless you have someone as tall as Scott Collie in the driver’s seat.
Kids will be fine back there though, and there are ISOFIX anchors on the outboard positions and top-tether points behind all three seats. There’s rear air vents, map pockets behind both front seats, and in every variant from the Maxx Sport up there’s USB charging points built in to the fold-down centre armrest, which also has cupholders.
Like the rear seats, the CX-5’s luggage area remains one of the smaller spaces in the segment.
Mazda claims 438L with five seats in use, expanding to 1340L with them folded. While it trails the bulk of the competition for outright volume, the CX-5’s boot is nice and square, and the floor is relatively flat with the seats folded – though as you can see in the images above, there’s a slight step between the cargo floor and seat backs.
Another nice touch is the cargo blind that can be attached to the tailgate and automatically raises out of the way when you open the rear door. It’s a small thing, but it saves you having to fiddle with the blind every time you open the boot.
Under the boot floor there’s a temporary space-saver spare wheel.
Powering the vehicle on test is a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission and on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD).
Outputs are quoted at 170kW (5000rpm) and 420Nm (2000rpm), which is towards the top of the segment.
The CX-5 Turbo uses a claimed 8.2L/100km on the combined cycle, and happily runs on cheaper 91 RON unleaded. The fuel tank measures 58 litres in capacity.
For $2500 less you can ditch the turbo and go for the naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine, which quotes outputs of 140kW (6000rpm) and 252Nm (4000rpm). Fuel consumption in this powertrain variant drops to 7.4L/100km.
While the overall vibe of Mazda’s top-selling crossover has evolved incrementally over the years the fundamentals still ring true.
With the 2.5-litre turbo four and all-wheel drive, the CX-5 GT SP feels as athletic and punchy as its darkened features and red highlighted cabin suggest, though it’s not as overtly sporty as something like a Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line.
It has a solid, planted feel thanks to its big wheels and chunky tyres, and the driver controls are all well-weighted and responsive in a linear, progressive manner.
I often draw comparisons between new Mazdas and Lexus products, such is the feeling of solidity and insulation from behind the wheel, not to mention the old-school cabin design that is quite distinctly Japanese.
The 2.5T is a torquey unit, with a diesel-like 420Nm available from just 2000rpm. Straight-line performance is brisk, though not quite fast, and the six-speed automatic is an intuitive shifter that helps the engine rev out and stay on the boil when you need it.
With that said, the CX-5’s more mature feel, particularly at the higher end of the range, as well as the turbocharged engine’s meaty mid-range leads me to believe a seven- or even eight-speed automatic would improve the car further.
It would no doubt aid fuel economy – more on that in a bit, she thirsty – and refinement because an eight-speeder wouldn’t have to hold revs as high at a cruise. The turbocharger hasn’t taken away Mazda’s signature buzzy, high-revving engine characteristics.
You sit quite high in the CX-5, and that top-heavy feeling carries into the dynamics. While it’s a more engaging steer than some of its rivals, the Mazda exhibits a bit of body roll in corners which is only exacerbated by the higher driving position.
It’s far from sloppy or unsettled, but it has a sort of playful lean about it that means it’s not as sharp or hardcore as rivals with firmer suspension setups or adjustable damping to tailor the chassis to the driving conditions. Think of it more as a GT – much like its badge.
That’s not to say the CX-5 isn’t fun to drive. As mentioned earlier the steering feel is very fluid and accurate, meaning you feel quite connected to the front wheels and the turbo petrol engine powers you out of corners with gusto.
It’s also a breeze to thread through city streets and car parks, with its accurate controls and relatively compact dimensions by class standards making it once of the most city-friendly mid-sized SUVs to drive.
Further, the added traction of all-wheel drive (which defaults to FWD most of the time) means the CX-5 is happy in all conditions. You can, however, light up the front tyres off the line if you’re a little heavy with your right foot.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression is up there with the best-in-class. Gone are the days where the CX-5 and other Mazda models leave your ears ringing due to high levels of tyre roar and wind noise.
It’s a quiet, almost serene place to spend time on the open road, even on the GT SP’s big 19-inch alloys. The at times buzzy engine settles into a quiet hum at freeway speeds, and Mazda’s excellent Cruising and Traffic Support (adaptive cruise and lane centring functions combined) allows for effortless semi-autonomous highway cruising.
Visibility is generally pretty good thanks to the compact dimensions and decent glasshouse – especially compared to something like a Mazda 3 hatch or CX-30 – though I don’t understand why Mazda persists with such magnified mirrors. Particularly on the driver’s side, it can limit your field of view when merging or reverse parking.
It’s a shame a 360-degree parking camera system is reserved for the top-spec Akera, as it would alleviate some of the aforementioned visibility quirks, and also work as an added safety net in tight city spaces. Alas, we can dream.
CX-5 GT SP highlights:
- 19-inch alloy wheels, black metallic
- Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
- Gloss black exterior accents
- Gloss black side mirrors
- Gloss black lower cladding
- Gloss black wheel arches
- 10.25-inch Mazda Connect infotainment
- Black headliner
- Power tilt/slide moonroof
- Power tailgate with hands-free operation
- 10-way power driver’s seat with memory
- 6-way power passenger’s seat
- Black leather upholstery with red contrast stitching
- 10-speaker Bose premium audio, 249 watt amplifier
That’s on top of features carried over from lower grades:
- Automatic LED headlights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Power-folding mirrors
- Rear seats with 40/20/40 split
- 7.0-inch digital instrument binnacle
- 8.0-inch touchscreen (MZD Connect)
- Satellite navigation
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
- AM/FM/DAB+ radio
- Electric parking brake with Auto Hold
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
- Push-button start
- Dual-zone climate control
- Paddle shifters
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Rear centre armrest storage and USB charging ports
- Heated mirrors with auto-fold
- Keyless entry
- Front parking sensors
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Reversible cargo floorboard
All versions of the Mazda CX-5 wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on testing carried out in 2017.
The CX-5 scored 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 80 per cent for child occupant protection, 78 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 59 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward/Reverse (4-80km/h)
- Pedestrian detection (Forward)
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Driver attention alert
- Auto high-beam
- Adaptive cruise control (all models) with stop/go (AT only)
- Reversing camera
- Rear parking sensors
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- 6 airbags (dual front, front-side, curtain)
CX-5 Maxx Sport adds:
- Traffic sign recognition
CX-5 Touring adds:
- Front parking sensors
CX-5 GT SP adds:
- Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
- Active bending headlights
- Cruising and Traffic Support
- Adaptive cruise + lane centring function
CX-5 Akera adds:
- 360-degree camera system
- Adaptive LED headlights
- incl. adaptive high-beam
Mazda backs its range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and five years of roadside assist.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 10,000 kilometres – whichever comes first – which is disappointingly still shorter than the 15,000km intervals offered by most rivals.
The GT SP 2.5T’s first five services cost $363, $393, $363, $393 and $363 – totalling $1875 for the first five years or 50,000km. However, that doesn’t include items like brake fluid ($72 every two years/40,000km) or cabin air filters ($83 every 40,000km).
As for real-world fuel consumption, we saw an indicated 11.1L/100km following our week of testing, which is well up on Mazda’s 8.2L/100km claim.
Our driving included a mix of highway and urban driving, including peak-hour commuting, but regardless it’s a disappointing result. The Tiguan 162TSI can easily return under 9.0L/100km and offers even more performance.
Mazda’s faithful medium SUV continues to make a compelling case for itself.
Its relatively compact dimensions, high-quality cabin finishes and balanced drive are consistent across the line-up, and in the case of the GT SP and Akera grades the option of boosted turbo power is a point of difference against a number of more mundane competitors.
It shows its age in the design of the cabin switchgear and interior elements dating back to when this car launched in 2017, as well as the high fuel consumption and six-speed auto. These aspects aren’t dealbreakers, but when you’re spending this kind of money it’s something worth noting compared to fresher competition.
It’s also on the smaller side of medium, which means growing families might outgrow the CX-5 quickly if they suddenly need to load in multiple prams and child seats, or if increasing amounts of kid-related luggage become too much of a squeeze.
With all that said, the CX-5 stays true to the hallmarks which have made it a favourite amongst Australian new car buyers. It’s attractive, fun to drive, well made and well featured.
Like most of its stablemates, it might make you think twice about shopping for a premium-badged alternative.
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MORE: Everything Mazda CX-5