When I picked up the new Mazda CX-5 last week I immediately thought of the Nissan Qashqai. The CX-5 is very attractive and looks a bit like Nissan’s best-seller, a model which most car companies admit is the one they all look up to. While the Qashqai has been overtaken by the Ford Focus as Ireland’s best selling car, it's still done very well for Nissan in this country over the past few years.
Now, a bit late in the day perhaps, comes the CX-5 from Mazda, but it may have been worth the wait. Mazda may not be targeting the Qashqai as it’s slightly bigger than the Nissan model, but it definitely is as good, if not better on the road; I cannot give a car higher praise than that.
Mazda plan to make all of their cars more fuel efficient in the next few years. This will be done by way of a design system called SkyActiv, which aims to cut the weight of all their models by 100kg, using lightweight material in body parts and engines. This car, with its stop-start technology is economical and in future the new Mazdas will be even more frugal. The new models will also be cleaner. This 2.2 litre diesel produces only 119 C02 emissions. The 2.2 gives you 150 brake horse power while the four-wheel drive version gives you 175 bhp.
This is an attractive looking motor, starting with the big black grille which dominates the front of the car. Inside there is ample room for five well-built adults and you get a decent-sized boot, but no spare wheel, just a space-saving repair kit. On the dash I loved the two decent-sized buttons to operate the radio. Some car radios just scan the wavelengths for you, but with the button to scroll you can select the exact frequency you want, which for me was brilliant.
You also get a Smart City Braking system, which will automatically apply the brakes if a passenger walks out in front of you in slow-moving traffic. This is a system I first saw used by Volvo, but it will only work if you don’t ‘hit’ the brake pedal yourself. I also had a reversing camera in the test car.
I know the CX-5 is probably coming a bit late to the Irish market and apart from the Qashqai, Mazda will also be competing with established models like the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage and VW Tiguan for sales, but the Japanese company now has a motor capable of competing. Overall sales of new cars in Ireland are down on 2011, but the good news for the motor industry is that sales for the month of July increased slightly.