(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2014 Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport AT: More CX-5 Than Ever

If you’ve been paying attention to the Mazda CX-5’s line up for a year now, you will notice that, unlike it’s competitors, an AWD variant with a more powerful engine is not available. Not that it was a necessity for Mazda to have one, but it could help boost sales and attract more audiences who would want AWD, a much more powerful engine, and more premium features. Well, it’s finally here. Berjaya Auto Philippines, the distributor of Mazda in the Philippines, has launched to the public the all new Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport.

Exterior

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Nothing has changed from the beautifully sculpted body of the Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport, except that it now has new shoes. It now has the 19″ inch alloy wheels that I was looking for, since this rim design was absent in the CX-5’s range. These rims make the CX-5 look more dynamic, more athletic, and in theory, should provide better handling compared to the 17″ inch alloy wheels found in the 2.0 2WD variants. Overall, it’s the look that I’ve been waiting for the Mazda CX-5 to have in the Philippine market, not that the 2.0 2WD CX-5 didn’t look sexy.

Interior

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Inside, it’s still the beautifully laid out, sumptuous interior that the Mazda CX-5 always had, though it looks a bit mismatched from the exterior design. Contributing to that beautiful design is Mazda’s use of very exquisite materials. Mazda’s new interiors are one of the best in the business, mainly because of it’s quality and attention to detail. Soft-touch materials are on the dashboard, the instrument gauges look like their made by a Swiss watch company, and the panel gaps & fit and finish are simply amazing. As this is the new, top of the line variant, the seats and door trims are now sculpted in soft, German premium brand-like black leather. Now you know why the Mazda CX-5’s interior was part of Ward’s 10 Best Interiors in 2012.

Space and Practicality

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The Mazda CX-5 has a 40-20-40 split folding rear seat. Interior space is versatile, helped by having those versatile folding rear seats, which by the way, doesn’t create any lip and folds completely flat. This will make sliding long items easy. Storage cubbies are strategically placed around the cabin, should you be carrying a lot of small stuff with you. As for rear passenger space, headroom is generous and so is legroom.

Features

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As this is the top of the line, CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport, there are new features to further add value to your hard earned cash. Some of these new features include a Bose® Premium Audio System, which sounds excellent by the way, a Rear View Camera, HID Headlamps with Auto Levelling, Auto On/Off, and Adaptive Front Light System (AFS), Sunroof, Voice Control for the entertainment system, which comes with a 5.8″ inch touchscreen, and enough letters and acronyms from the alphabet soup for you to know that this car is very safe. Just to name a few noteworthy safety features, the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport is equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, and High Beam Control.

A brief explanation on how each active safety feature works. Blind Spot Monitoring detects incoming vehicles from your blind spot. If there is a car in your blind spot, the symbol in the side mirror will light up. If you activate your turn signal while a car is there, the symbol will now blink, and the car will give off an audible warning. Lane Departure Warning monitors the white or yellow lines on the road, and when you are unintentionally drifting off your lane, the car will have a sound that is similar to a car passing over rumble marks on the road. Lane Departure Warning won’t activate when you use the turn signal to intentionally change lanes. The Philippines needs more of this feature, since there are still a number of drivers who are not using the turn signal when changing lanes. High Beam Control is a safety feature in which, you won’t have a problem switching from high to low beam. Just leave your headlights on high beam, and the system will revert to low beam when it detects oncoming vehicles, people, or vehicles right in front of you.

Powertrain

The Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport comes equipped with a 2.5 liter SKYACTIV-G petrol engine that produces 185 hp @ 5,700 rpm, and 250 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. It has similar figures from the Mazda 6’s 2.5 liter SKYACTIV-G since they share the same 2.5 liter engine. Typical to Mazda’s SKYACTIV engines, it has a very high compression ratio of 13:1, and Mazda says there shouldn’t be any issues when filling it up with non-premium fuel. In order to save this precious fuel, the new Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport has i-STOP Start/Stop System, which shuts off the engine to prevent engine idling while let’s say, at a stoplight, therefore saving fuel.

How It Drives

A thing I like a lot about the CX-5 is it’s driving position. Rather than sitting on it. You sit in it like you would on a sports sedan or a sports car. The driving position is low enough to convey sportiness, but high enough for you to have a commanding view up front, as this is still a crossover SUV. Take it to the road, and like the new Mazda 6, the Mazda CX-5 is very sporty to drive. Body lean is well controlled. Steering is lovely, with plenty of feedback, while still very light when in town use. I fell in love with the Mazda 6’s SKYACTIV Drive Automatic Transmission, and it’s no different here in the CX-5. It is responsive and willing to downshift when you want to quickly get off the line. The Mazda CX-5 does not have paddle shifters, but has tiptronic shifting, so it’s a welcome touch for Mazda to make a responsive automatic gearbox. Engine and throttle response are very responsive to driver inputs too, and the brakes are firm and sharp. The AWD system equipped in this CX-5 means you can do some mild off-roading, but let’s face it, you’re not going to take your CX-5 out of the road that often. As for fuel efficiency, I haven’t driven this in a proper highway, and considering how brisk sometimes I was accelerating in some parts of the city, I managed to have an average fuel consumption of around *8.6 km/l, which is good considering the responsiveness of the car to drive inputs. Add to that the AWD system and a powerful 2.5 liter engine.

On The Downside

Rear visibility is limited, no thanks to a thick rear pillar. Thankfully, a rear back up camera is available. Though I did mention about headroom and legroom in the second row being generous, there is a bit of a downside on rear seat space. It is not as wide as those on a Honda CR-V, or a Subaru Forester, which isn’t helped by having a transmission tunnel, though admittedly, the tunnel is still a reasonable size. Then there’s the ride. A trade-off for sporty handling is of course, a firm ride. The ride is generally firm at times, and it can jitter about a bit over small imperfections on the road. If you want a crossover SUV that has best in class space and comfort, you may want to check out the Honda CR-V or the Subaru Forester.

Verdict

The Mazda CX-5 aims to be a distinct and competitive compact crossover SUV, separating it from its rivals for being the driver’s car in the said category. It is fun to drive, practical, good looking, efficient, and well equipped. With an asking price of PHP 1,685,000, it is also excellent value for money since it is even cheaper than the top spec models of the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester. Berjaya Auto Philippines has definitely launched another winner this year, which was spearheaded by the Mazda 6.

More Photos

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Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Features: ★★★★★
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★☆☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

OVERALL: 4 out of 5

See Also:

2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI
2012 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GL AT
2013 Mazda 6
2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4×4 AT
2013 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V 4×2 AT
2014 Toyota Vios 1.5 G AT
2014 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium

*Fuel consumption results may vary depending on conditions and the driver itself.