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Mazda CX-5 sticks to winning formula with mid-life refresh

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Mazda’s CX-5 has become a common sight on our roads since it was launched in 2012.

Since then over 70,000 of them have been sold in the UK. Little wonder. With a combination of refinement, comfort, practicality and a premium cabin, it’s always had the edge over its opposition.

A decade on and the car is in its second generation. This sleeker, sharper model has just been given a mid-life refresh to improve it still further.

Looks-wise, there are new bumpers front and rear, new headlights and taillights, and a new grille. Buyers can choose from five trim levels: SE-L, Newground, Sport, Sport Black and GT Sport.

A refined choice

Prices start at from around £29,000 for SE-L models. Buyers have the choice of two 2.2 litre diesels with 150 or 184hp, or a 2.0 litre petrol with 165hp. You can also pick two or four-wheel drive and six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

I spent a week with the petrol model in Sport trim with front-wheel drive and manual gearbox – yours for £34,170.

One of the CX-5’s strong suits has always been its refinement. Mazda has put a lot of effort into getting the suspension right and keeping the cabin well insulated from external noise.

Quiet on long drives

On a drive to the Central Belt the CX-5 was whisper quiet at 70mph. The petrol engine is exceptionally smooth and silent. The only downside is it’s a little lacking in power.

Zero to 62mph takes 10.5 seconds and it needs to be revved hard to get much speed out of it. It is pretty economical for a petrol, though, returning more than 40mpg.

If it were my money I would pick one of the diesels. Their low range power suits the character of an SUV much better.

The Mazda CX-5 is one of those cars whose size feels just right. I didn’t find it big or cumbersome driving through the narrow streets of Edinburgh in busy traffic. Yet it can accommodate four six-foot adults and has a large 510-litre boot.

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The cockpit is well laid out and has a premium feel. A user-friendly rotary dial controls most functions, and there are buttons and knobs for the heating and fan controls.

A 10.25in infotainment screen is well placed and easy to use. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can easily stream music and podcasts.

All of the switchgear feels built to last and is a notch above what you’d find in an equivalent Ford, Peugeot or Vauxhall in terms of quality.

The only minor gripe is Mazda persists in fitting a tiny ‘90s style sunroof when most other car makers now offer beautiful panoramic glass roofs.

On a twisting country road the Mazda CX-5 is one of the more entertaining mid-size SUVs

A range of driver assistance and safety systems is included. Automatic emergency braking slams on the anchors if it detects a crash is imminent, and there are systems that brake and accelerate for you when you’re stuck in traffic jams, making rush hour less fatiguing.

Subtle improvements enhance the driving experience

On a twisting country road the Mazda CX-5 is one of the more entertaining mid-size SUVs. Relatively firm suspension means it doesn’t wallow during fast cornering and it’s surprisingly entertaining to hustle round some bends.

The six-speed manual gearbox has a smooth action and it’s easy to move through the gears without any fuss.

The refreshed CX-5 hasn’t deviated too far from a winning formula but it has been improved in a number of subtle ways.

It’s better looking, better equipped and more comfortable. Its interior is even more premium, with a cabin that feels closer in quality to an Audi’s than a Vauxhall’s.

I expect Mazda to keep selling CX-5s as quickly as they can make them.

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The Facts

Model: Mazda CX-5 Sport

Price: £34,170

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Top speed: 125mph

Economy: 41.5mpg

CO2 emissions: 153g/km

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