Published on December 31st, 2017 | by Subhash Nair


7 Things Mazda Proved with the New CX-5

1. That Kodo is not a ‘dead-end’ design language

Sometimes a car company comes up with a breakthrough design language without a long-term plan. With the E60 BMW 5-Series and B8 Audi A4, you can really see this. BMW ended up reversing a lot of the progress with the successing F10 5-Series, while Audi’s B9 A4 ended up showing the limitations of their design path.

Kodo design, on the other hand, keeps evolving. The principles are unchanged, but Mazda’s designers are not afraid of experimenting. The MX-5 took away the large, smiling grille. This CX-5 merges the grille with the headlights and protrudes the front Mazda emblem. It sounds weird but it looks amazing, and we’re so excited to see what their other models will look like as Kodo evolves.

2. That non-premium brands can produce premium-feeling products

If I were a struggling premium brand, I would be shaking in my boots. Mazda’s brand image is improving with every year, and soon they may come to define what’s premium based on how self-confident their products are.

The CX-5 isn’t yet equipped to take on the big brands, but wow, does it come dangerously close. The FUNDAMENTALS of a premium car are all there, but the execution and price point that Mazda plays in are limiting them.

3. That you don’t need to turbocharge a modern petrol engine

Just about every car company has a turbocharged, downsized engine today. With the CX-5 2.5-litre, we still have a beautiful, naturally-aspirated motor. The torque and power delivery is great and there’s so much of it too. The best part is that all the tech and fine tuning that go into SKYACTIV-G engines make them as efficient as some of the competitors with much smaller engines.

4. That a 6-speed automatic is all you need

When Volkswagen popularised the 7-speed DSG, we thought, “hey, this is as many gear ratios as we’ll ever need.” But soon after, 8-speed automatics started getting into Jaguars, Beemers, and more. Now, we have 9- and even 10-speed automatics. Some manufacturers do it for the right driving feel – so that you always shift at the right moment – others do it purely for the fuel-economy gains.

But look at the most perfect transmission type in the world – the manual. There are usually no more than 6-speeds to it. So if you can take that feeling and tuning of a manual gearbox and translate it to an automatic, 6-speeds should really be what you need. And in fact, Mazda’s able to make do with its 6-speed Skyactiv Drive. Even in this new CX-5, we never felt the need for another ratio.

5. That an SUV can be tuned to handle well

Part of the reason (but perhaps not the primary reason) many motoring journalists and enthusiasts aren’t big on crossovers and SUVs is that they’re inherently heavier, larger (without being that much larger inside), harder to see out of, and not quite as sharp as their sedan counterparts. But the CX-5 shows us that weight and dimensions can be overcome with proper engineering. It’s nimble, with sharp handling characteristics, all while playing the role of the comfy family SUV.

6. That less is more

Sometimes manufacturers surprise themselves with a successful model only to find themselves lost with the next generation. They end up overdoing it, adding way too much to the successor car, and losing the essense of the nameplate in the process.

That is not the case with the new CX-5. It feels like an improvement, especially in the cabin quality and design department. Yet, when you look at it the list of features, the price list, and the overall proportion and size, it’s still as much of a CX-5 as the last car.

In fact, the cabin is really restrained in its execution it makes premium German cars look like they’re overdoing it.

7. That not everybody buys an SUV for the space

It’s true, the crossover/SUV craze has really come to change the way manufacturers plan their products. Sedans and hatchbacks are now the exception, while crossovers and SUVs are the norm. For a long time, people assumed that crossovers and SUVs were becoming popular because they were ‘bigger’, and ‘safer’.

But that’s really not always true. Mazda knows this. Crossovers are popular because… well who cares? They’re popular. Build them well, don’t assume what aspects of the genre are making them popular. Most people just do things because their neighbours are doing it anyway, so why shouldn’t the crossover craze be any different? The CX-5 continues to trail behind in terms of sheer internal volume, but really, it’s so beautiful to drive and look at, that size ends up being a secondary consideration.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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