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Mazda CX-5 review: A class act

Mazda may not have a prestige division, but the CX-5 shows it knows how to build a luxury car.

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The CX-5 still comes with two engine choices (2.0 and 2.5 litres), with two levels of trim for each. All four models now have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are practically must-haves in this day and age. Plug your smartphone in and the Mazda's entertainment system becomes an extension of it, and given how your phone is an extension of you, it's tough to see why anyone would countenance buying a car without that sort of connectivity.

BT_20190322_MAZDA22B_3731121.jpg
The CX-5 still comes with two engine choices (2.0 and 2.5 litres), with two levels of trim for each. All four models now have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are practically must-haves in this day and age. Plug your smartphone in and the Mazda's entertainment system becomes an extension of it, and given how your phone is an extension of you, it's tough to see why anyone would countenance buying a car without that sort of connectivity.

Singapore

NISSAN has Infiniti, Toyota has Lexus, and Mazda has this, the CX-5 2.5L Super Luxury. It's proof that even though Mazda doesn't have a prestige division, it knows a thing or two about building posh cars.

Mazda did flirt with the idea of launching an upscale brand in 1991, only to call the whole thing off in 1992. Perhaps that's just as well, since the new luxury division was going to be called "Amati". Those last two syllables might not have sat too well with people in our part of the world, it seems safe to say.

But while the CX-5 may not have a premium badge on its nose, it drives and feels like it deserves one, especially after getting a raft of updates for 2019.

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Some of those changes are positively minuscule. For instance, the CX-5 now has rear seatbelt indicators, to let you know exactly which child to yell at for failing to buckle up back there.

It also gets an updated version of Mazda's G-Vectoring Control (GVC) doohickey, which cuts engine power by a tiny amount when the driver turns the steering wheel just to make the car feel better planted to the road. The new GVC Plus system now also lightly brakes the outside front wheel as the driver exits the turn, to help straighten the car up again.

I'll be darned if I can feel the difference, but that's the sort of obsessive attention to detail that tends to elevate a car from the mass market.

The CX-5 still comes with two engine choices (2.0 and 2.5 litres), with two levels of trim for each. All four models now have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are practically must-haves in this day and age. Plug your smartphone in and the Mazda's entertainment system becomes an extension of it, and given how your phone is an extension of you, it's tough to see why anyone would countenance buying a car without that sort of connectivity.

Yet, things only get plush with the 2.0L Premium and up. Those variants get new features such as a digital speedometer and a 360-degree camera, also known as God's gift to parallel parking.

Another feature that feels Heaven-sent in today's weather? Ventilated front seats. They work noisily in the Mazda, but when it's hot and muggy they do wonders to cool the fanny.

The very top Super Luxury model has still more niceties, such as a frameless rear view mirror, soft Nappa leather and real wood trim for the dashboard, all of which are more Volvo than Mazda. But whether they're worth the S$5,000 premium over the Luxury version is debatable, since the CX-5 2.5L bears itself with an inherent sense of refinement anyway.

Nineteen-inch wheels make the ride slightly busy over rough surfaces, but the Mazda otherwise lopes along in a smooth way that would befit a more expensive car.

In fact, the CX-5 trumps some pricey stuff out there. It's better to drive and ride in than, say, a Lexus NX, but costs less.

On the subject of numbers, however, it's worth pointing out that the 2.5L models attract a S$10,000 pollution surcharge.

That being so, the 2.0L Premium occupies the sweet spot of the range, but there might a way to console yourself about the surcharge if you plump for a 2.5L: the CX-5 is posh enough to let you think of it as a luxury tax.


Mazda CX-5 2.5L Super Luxury

Engine 2,488cc, inline 4

Power 194hp at 6,000rpm

Torque 258Nm at 4,000rpm

Gearbox 6-speed automatic

Top speed 201km/h

0-100km/h 8.9 seconds

Fuel efficiency 7.2L/100km

Price S$164,800 (with COE)

Agent: Trans Eurokars Pte Ltd

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