Brilliant engines and good handling, but ride and refinement aren't perfect
Comfortable and easy to operate, but could feel posher
Plenty of measures to keep your family safe
Some drab materials, but shouldn't suffer any unforeseen problems
Bags of interior space, with clever seats and a big boot
Basic SE-L trim has all you need
The CX-5 is a good choice if you enjoy driving: the steering responds quickly and the car doesn't sway at all on bends. It's a bit bumpy on urban roads but this isn't a big deal and the car settles down on faster roads.The 2.2 diesel with 148bhp is super - it's strong, smooth and quiet, and there's no need for the more powerful 175bhp diesel, which is also a bit gruffer. Avoid the 2.0-litre petrol: you have to rev it hard to get the most power from it, which makes it noisy.
Wind and road noise are also too prevalent on all models.
The ride is a little firm, but the flipside is good body control. The accurate steering and reassuring grip also means there's some fun to be had at the wheel.
The dashboard is well laid out and the central controlling knob for the infotainment system works quite well, though it's not as intuitive as some similar systems. Soft-touch materials and chrome detailing makes the cabin feel reasonably appealing at first glance, but anything out of view is made from decidedly functional plastics.
There's lots of seat- and steering wheel adjustment, and the raised SUV driving position gives you a clear view at the front. However, rear visibility is hampered by thick rear pillars.
The cabin feels extremely roomy, and there's even decent space for the middle rear passenger's feet. The boot is large for the class, too.
Even entry-level SE-L trim brings luxury kit such as alloys, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth and cruise control. Pricier Sport models add leather, xenon headlamps, a reversing camera and an upgraded stereo, but their bigger wheels scupper the ride quality.
The CX-5 hasn't yet featured in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but Mazda scored only an average rating for mechanical reliability with owners of its other cars. However, it scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, with 94% for adult protection, 87% for children and 64% for pedestrians, beating many rivals such as the Volvo XC60 and Hyundai ix35. Its City Braking system stops the car automatically if it senses an impending collision when you're travelling at less than 10mph; it also slows the car down up to 19mph.
For this amount of space, equipment and driver appeal, the CX-5 is very well priced, and the entry-level diesel returns an impressive 61.4mpg with 119g/km CO2. That's better than a Land Rover Freelander or a VW Tiguan, and means road tax costs just £30 a year. If you're not bothered by a bit of background noise or a slightly firm ride, then the CX-5 makes a great buy.