Venue: CASS Sculptor Foundation, Goodwood Estate, West Sussex
The day had finally arrived and once the guest registration was completed, we tootled over to the glistening ‘Zeal Red’ example of Mazda’s new CX-5 SUV for a good ogle and a detailed walk-about. It was wisely being kept indoors on a very damp and drab spring day. The location and its theme of artistic, linear sculpture wasn’t lost on me. The CX-5 is a handsome, bullish fellow but its shape and lines won’t appeal to everyone. It did, however, appeal to us which, in a purely mercenary way, was all that mattered.
In this first airing of Mazda’s innovative SkyActiv Technology, the CX-5 is a very important model for Mazda world-wide and several grades of CX-5 were outside in the elements, served up for inspection and test drives by the trickle-fed arrival of VIP guests throughout the day.
With the gabbing over, it was time to drive the pup around the Goodwood estate in beautiful West Sussex. Our chosen CX-5 was the 2.2-litre, 175bhp auto diesel of top-spec SportNav derivative in ‘Sky Blue’. Peter, our knowledgeable chaperone and long-term member of the Mazda events team (and fellow retired rally/motor sport driver), was on hand to go through the features of the car before setting off.
First impression was the sense of space and how comfortable the leather-clad furniture felt. The primary controls are well laid out and good, all-round visibility from the raised driving position was reassuring. There were glowing compliments from Mrs G on the port side, too. Interior materials are of a good standard and the sensory experience is better than most in its class.
Finally, a genteel countryside meander ensued while the engine and transmission bits warmed up. Then, it was time to give it a bit of welly. On the road, the CX-5 feels composed, planted and keen though the corners with little of the body roll that usually accompanies SUVs in this class. The impressive driving dynamics border on excellent, encouraging a spirited, enthusiastic driving style. So we obliged. Our only criticism would be the vague feel to the steering at the dead-ahead – an element that engineers across many brands struggle to eradicate. That aside, the CX-5 is a very engaging steed to pilot. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to experience the CX-5’s off-road capabilities at the event. More on that when we secure a full road test from our friends at MazdaUK PR.
We must fess up to a spot of bias as we bid an open-armed welcome to the variety of punchy, performance diesels developed in recent years across many brands in the industry. Mazda’s own 2.2 diesel delivers its healthy 175bhp/420Nm pot of torque to the drive train effortlessly and without fuss across the power band. With plenty of low-down grunt to get it moving quickly, we kept the torque coming for as long as our sense of self-preservation prevailed. You can actually feel the on-demand 4WD engage when needed. Fantastic!
All too soon, our first drive in the CX-5 was over and no amount of bribery or impolite coercion would shift Peter’s resolve for another run.
Just the day before, Mrs G and I had returned from a week in Cornwall and we both wished we could have had the CX-5 for that week. We kept mostly to rural, hilly, single-lane tracks around the Falmouth estuary and Lizard peninsula area and the Mazda CX-5, with its on-demand AWD, would have been perfect in what were – for our Chevrolet Cruze – very wet, slippery and challenging conditions. Those on-the-fly folding mirrors would have been very welcome on those narrow lanes.
We hope to have an extended test of the new Mazda CX-5 in the near future and we’ll bring you that report as soon as it happens. Who knows, I might even treat myself to one – in Zeal Red.