Mazda CX-5

Golden goose SUV keeps its ducks lined up lined up

CAMERON KIRBY

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

Improved fuel economy; decent power and torque boost for diesel PLUS & MINUS Petrol 2.0 engine works hard; extensive range could overwhelm some

Model Mazda CX-5 Akera

Engine 2191cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo-diesel

Max power 140kW @ 4500rpm

Max torque 450Nm @ 2000rpm

Transmission 6-speed automatic

Weight 1751kg 0-100km/h 8.5sec (estimated) Economy 5.7L/100km Price $49,190

On sale Now

A FINALIST in Wheels’ 2018 Car of the Year, Mazda’s second-generation mid-size SUV became a smash sales success in its first year on sale locally – 24,200 examples found new homes between April ’17 and March ’18.

But, instead of resting on its laurels, Mazda has updated the CX-5 with some subtle but important changes.

The major differences are under the bonnet, with upgrades to all three available engines and improvements in fuel economy across the range.

The base 2.0-litre four-cylinder receives the mildest reworking. Mazda has improved the thermal management system and knock resistance for increased torque output throughout the rev range, reduced emissions, and a token 1kW boost in peak power.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol comes in for more significant revisions. It now boasts cylinder deactivation for 2018, with the car capable of shutting combustion off to two of its cylinders, though the result is a scant 0.1L/100km gain on the official cycle.

Meanwhile, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel unit has received a new multi-stage combustion system, a larger twin-scroll turbo, and reshaped combustion chambers. The net result is an increase of 11kW to 140kW and a significant 30Nm boost to torque, now 450Nm.

With the extra grunt and excellent refinement, the diesel reinforces its position as the sweet spot of the CX-5 engine line-up.

The 2.0-litre petrol helps keep the entry price sharp at $28,690 for a manual Maxx, and the revhappy donk is a gem around town, despite its diminutive 115kW/200Nm outputs. Flex your right foot further however, or go to perform an overtake, and the 2.0L’s lack of outright muscle is exposed compared to the CX-5’s larger capacity engines. If, however, you have an f howeve ou have an aversion to diesel, the 2.5-litre petrol engine remains a sweet thing. Unfortunately, our test loop lacked enough consistent highway driving to feel the effects of cylinder deactivation.

The diesel offers the same power figure as the 2.5-litre petrol, with near-enough 200Nm more torque, improving the day-to-day liveability. However, it does attract a $3000 premium over the 2.5.

The same Maxx, Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and Akera model grades from 2017 are carried over for MY18 models, with $400-800 trimmed from the sticker price across the range.

Mazda’s mid-size SUV retains the car-like, supple yet athletic dynamics, and easy ergonomics that we praised at its launch, but with a slightly more compelling price point and improved engines. An already strong package just became even stronger.

CAMERON KIRBY

Spotter’s misery

Mazda’s upgrades will probably have car anoraks pulling their hair out, as not a single exterior change has been made for the MY18 update. Inside there have been two minor additions to the cabin, with the head-up display (which is now equipped with speed sign recognition) projected onto the windscreen instead of a flip-up piece of polycarbonate. A 360-degree view monitor is also added to the flagship Akera model grade. Picking a fresh CX-5 in the carpark will take a rather keen eye for detail.