Mazda benefited from the SUV boom thanks to the introduction of the first-generation CX-5 in 2012.
Jeremy Thomson, Mazda UK managing director, recalls the model as an instant hit, requiring no marketing for the first four years of a life cycle that amassed 34,664 sales. It accounted for 20% of Mazda’s UK sales in 2017.
The manufacturer has a more aggressive launch plan this time around, as the new CX-5 takes on rivals such as the Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan and Kia Sportage.
A TV-led marketing campaign is under way and an introductory PCP offer sees a three-year, 5.9% APR offer deliver an entry-level CX-5 2.0 petrol SE-L Nav (£23,695) for £298 a month with a 20% deposit.
A 0% APR conditional sale offer delivers a £329-per-month rate – dependent on a 50% deposit – until the end of September.
Mazda launched its SkyActiv programme with the CX-5, shunning turbocharged small capacity engines and hybrids in favour of weight savings.
This time the brand has added 50kg back into the car to improve refinement.
Changes to the exterior are subtle. Sleeker, more assertive headlights and a bolder grille are the most noticeable alterations.
Inside, a soft-touch dashboard sits above elongated hexagonal vents. The cabin’s horizontal lines emphasise its width, while a broad centre console contains a now- familiar rotary controller for the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment and satnav system standard in all new CX-5s.
The system boosts the SUV’s connectivity, with Twitter and Facebook compatibility and the ability to dictate SMS messages.
Prices for the two-grade range start at £23,695 for the 165PS two-litre petrol SE-L Nav. LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control and a DAB radio are among the standard equipment.
Highlights of the Sport Nav (£26,695) include leather seats, 19-inch alloys, a reversing camera, powered tailgate, traffic sign recognition, a head-up display, keyless entry and a Bose sound system.
The lower-powered of two turbo diesels – a 150PS two-litre unit – costs from £25,695 (SE-L Nav) and has automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive options. The range-topping 175PS, 2.2-litre turbodiesel-engined Sport Nav Auto is priced at £33,195.
Mazda aims to entertain with its driving dynamics and while the CX-5 does elicit slight roll in sharper corners and has a tendency towards understeer, it offers better composure than many class rivals.
Torque vectoring allows the CX-5 to channel power to improve cornering accuracy while i-ActiveSense radar technology (£800) provides adaptive cruise control, even at crawling speeds.
Cabin space is a CX-5 strong suit, with good leg- and headroom, but a 503-litre boot does fall behind the 3008 and Tiguan, however.
The 2.2-litre turbodiesel offers the best balance of performance and economy.
It’s relatively quiet and will rev freely, but stay smooth and Mazda claims 56.5mpg fuel economy for the manual, two-wheel-drive derivative, along with 132g/km CO2 emissions, 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds and a top speed of 127mph.
The two-litre petrol version boasts more power, but less torque (210Nm versus 380Nm). While refined, it did require the odd down-shift to tackle inclines.
Mazda claims the petrol unit is good for 44.1mpg in the same guise, along with 149g/km CO2 emissions alongside 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 125mph.
The brand predicts 84% of UK sales will be diesel, 67% will be front-wheel-drive and 78% with a manual transmission. The Sport Nav trim will account for 59% of sales. Fleet sales will account for 46% of a projected 8,000-unit annual volume.
Q&A with Jeremy Thomson, Mazda UK managing director
After a tough start to the year (Mazda’s registrations were down more than 13% to the end of May) what are your expectations for the rest of the year?
Looking at the full calendar year, our expectation is that we’ll do 45,000 units. That compares with 46,500 last year so that’s in line with the anticipated decline in the overall industry.
Within that a move towards more retail and core fleet and a lot less, if any, of the very high-end cost of fleet and quite a bit less Motability.
The reality is quite a lot of that is exchange rate-driven.
How important is CX-5 in arresting this year’s decline in registrations?
This year the CX-5 will be our best-selling car, around 8,000 units, slightly ahead of Mazda3, so it is a crucial car and it is vital that it is well received.
The thing that gives me great confidence is that after we launched the car in 2012, it created quite an unexpected bow wave of customer pull, not
We didn’t have to promote it for four years and for the first two years we didn’t even have a consumer offer. It’s fair to say it was a great-looking car in what was not a great-looking segment.
The styling has been changed, but where else are the key changes?
The premium-ness of the car is very different – if you drive them back-to-back it’s quite apparent. Refinement has been improved, 50kg has been put back into the car, partially to improve NVH levels, and the interior quality is also improved.
Pricing is from the heartland of the Qashqai into the premium part of the sector. We had to up our game with the new CX-5. It now sits between its volume and premium rivals.
Apart from new rivals, what are the key challenges for the new CX-5?
Our challenge, as ever as a manufacturer around 1.5% overall market share, is to make sure enough people know about the new CX-5.
A really strong TV advert will be screened from early July and we have some strong introductory finance offers as well.
Thankfully we also have the benefit of five years of consumer knowledge on our side this time around, so we’ll send dealers leads when a customer has tipped into a positive equity position.
That’s supporting the dealer network and pro-actively helping them have a positive conversation about getting customers into a new car.