Mazda CX-5: Re-energised vigour

SOME cars tend to look rather timeless in styling, a few more than others, and the Mazda CX-5 seems to be among this ageless company with its Kodo Design outlook.

Seeing the latest version that opens the 2024 model programme, you wouldn’t have thought that this sports utility vehicle (SUV) was introduced some seven years ago in 2017.


We could understand the predicament of car designers in moving on from a vehicle body design that is generally well accepted and which would blend in easily with the crowd today given its contemporary styling.

Mazda has continued to impress with its refreshing touches for the facelifted CX-5, coming out with new front and rear bumper designs and trendy patterns for the sleek and slim LED headlamps and rear lamp clusters.


We particularly like the change for the rear lamps, moving from a distinct round LED pattern to the double Nike-like styling that is also seen on some other car brands.

Changes to the front bumper see a smaller centre intake to create a sense of depth while the distinctive signature wings that sweeps out from the grille is restyled with surface forms rather than lines.


The more flowing wing pattern without lines to disrupt its single form impression adds a fresh elegance to the front face.

And for good measure, Mazda spruced up the CX-5’s front further with a restyled grille pattern that has a bolder interlocking pattern as well new design alloy wheels to complement the updated looks.


Stepping inside, the changes are more subtle but offer more practicality such as the wireless charger in the front storage tray of the centre console that benefits those with handphones that are designed for wireless charging.

And on warm days, the driver and front passenger would enjoy the cool air from the newly added ventilation leather seats for the top two models – 2.5 T High AWD and 2.2 D High 2WD.


There are individual control for the front passenger and driver and the cool air flow is vented in the lumbar and bum/thighs areas.

We had the turbodiesel 2.2 D High 2WD for review and testing its high-spec driving convenience and comfort.


These top CX-5 variants are equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels (against 17-inch units for the other variants) and the 2.2 D’s come fitted with 225/55 R19 Toyo Proxes R46 tyres.

The diesel variant used to be offered in two-wheel and all-wheel drive (AWD) versions but with the introduction of the 2.5 Turbo AWD model a few years ago, the diesel AWD is dropped from the latest line-up.


The 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D engine delivers improved output of 188hp and 450Nm of torque compared with the previous version’s 173hp and 420Nm.

Engine output goes to the front wheels via the SkyActiv Drive six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode.


The latter could be enjoyed by slotting the gearshift to manual from D(rive) and you select the gears via the steering wheel paddle shifters (this is not available for the entry-level 2.0 MID model).

To provide a better dynamic drive and ride comfort, the springs and dampers in the CX-5 suspension system – MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link design at the rear – are retuned.


The improved characteristics are said to help mitigate the occupants’ heads from pitching forward when going over road bumps in response to driving input as well as provide responsive driving stability, ride, comfort and improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) control.

We could certainly relate to the better NVH levels as the typical diesel clatter was very faint at idling speed; likewise, engine roar on mild to mid acceleration was not intrusive.


The 360-degree view is also appreciated as this computer-generated image on the eight-inch centre multi-info display using the four cameras (grille, tailgate handle and door mirrors) gave us a good perspective when moving in tight areas or reversing.

The 2.2 D gave a good turn of speed when we prompted the accelerator harder to overtake slower cars.


And typical of turbodiesel engine characteristics, it moved along easily at low engine speeds as the strong torque builds up early to give good initial pace.

That explains why we got good computed mileages of a high 12km/l (highway driving) to low 11.3km/l (city traffic) that were displayed on the instrument cluster.


Taking the 2.2 D along the winding Ulu Yam road showed its dynamic prowess in tackling corners with enough gusto, thanks to its G-Vectoring Control Plus feature.

The electric power-assisted steering gave us good feedback on how the front wheels were turning and the confidence to push the vehicle a bit through some corners.


The CX-5 appears to have stiff anti-roll bars that prevented the body from leaning too much and this boosted confidence with its stable body dynamics.

In ride comfort, the improved spring and damper tuning appeared to have made the ride a bit firmer, more so than in the 2.5 Turbo we drove a few years ago.


This was clearly noted when driving over rumble strips and road bumps, though the effect was not jarring but just a harder thump than expected.

On the highway, the CX-5 2.2 D was as quiet as they come, helped by good body aerodynamics and insulation to keep wind noise to a very low level.


The High-Spec CX-5 variants come with a Power Tailgate with Programmable Height function; it means you could set the tailgate height simply to accommodate low roof areas by pressing on a tailgate button until a beep comes on.

It opens up to a luggage space that easily has at least 500 litres of storage capability and which could be extended by more than double through folding down the 60:40 split rear seat backrests.

The best part about the refreshed lineup is that the respective variants are available with only a slight increase in prices.

The CX-5 2.2 D is priced at RM180,322 on the road without insurance for the metallic paint version; the one with premium paint costs an additional RM3,300.

Mazda CX-5 2.2 D High 2WD
Engine: 2,191cc, turbodiesel, four cylinders
Maximum power: 188hp at 4,500rpm
Maximum torque: 450Nm at 2,000rpm
Transmission: SkyActiv Drive six-speed automatic
Features: LED front headlamps with Auto On/Off Auto Levelling function, Power Tailgate with Programmable Height function, 8-inch Mazda Connect Infotainment System with Multi-Function Commander Control and Voice Command, Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wireless Charger, Mazda i-Stop Idling, Smart City Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front ventilation seats, Driver Attention Alert
Price: RM180,322 (on the road without insurance); RM182,732 (with additional ACTIV-e film and sill plates with LED installed)
Autos Mazda
CarSifu's Rating: 8.3