Drive Reviews the Mazda CX-5 SKY ACTIV in Skye

In Car Reviews by Jonathan Humphrey

Mazda CX-5 SKY ACTIV driven at the launch in the Highlands

The new dynamic Mazda CX-5 SKY ACTIV is a fitting new model in the highly popular SUV crossover market. A medium size family vehicle ideally suited to the modern family lifestyle, touring, holidaying or towing. With its fantastic fuel consumption suited to our emptier pockets and lower emissions, the new SKY ACTIV technologies and their lightness of being, are making their mark.

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The Mazda CX-5 SKY ACTIV range has an 18 model line up to include a choice of petrol and diesel options available in two or all wheel drive. These vehicles offer impressive economy figures and the lowest emissions in the SUV class from 119k/gm.

After meeting the cars at Inverness airport along with other journalists I set off with the well respected Sue Baker motoring correspondent and ex Top Gear presenter. We firstly drove over 100 miles stopping briefly at the Eilean Donan Castle ahead of a lunch stop and to swap cars at the one of the Highlands finest, the Kinloch Lodge Hotel.

The first model driven was a 2.2 SE-L Diesel with an on the road price of £25,515. It was the automatic version with 150bhp. The car was dressed in a Zeal Red Mica Paint finish with the Black Cloth interior. This first model introduced me to the new Mazda KODO soul of motion design expression. First impressions are very good and the new style interiors are a step forward featuring soft touch fabrics and subtle detailing. The cars are very well equipped as standard, with many features found as extras on other cars. All models feature keyless entry with a dashboard stop start button. The car was light, fun to drive and easy to get comfortable in. Even though it is on the larger size of the SUV model market it didn’t feel that way and the luggage space was plenty large enough. At the rear the the low rear bumper made loading easy. The rear in all models feature the ‘Karakuri’ fold flat seats which turn the car into an impressive load carrier. The dual zone climate control was consistent and faultless. All cars feature i-stop/start to maximise their fuel efficiency, this worked well throughout the day.

There are plenty of spaces to hold things and the all important, loads of leg room in the rear even with the seats positioned further back. The 150bhp engine and two wheel drive were perfectly adequate and the automatic transmission was smooth and effortless.

The Mazda SKY ACTIV technologies used in their car although not clearly obvious to the consumer deserve some explanation.

What does Mazda SKY ACTIV Mean to me?

The SKY ACTIV tech focuses on three key areas in the construction of the car – Lightweight chassis technology, advanced engines with world-beating compression high compression ratios and highly efficient new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The results are class leading emissions and fuel economy – up to 61.4mpg and 119g/km.

The SKY ACTIV process will concentrate on lightening the construction of the vehicles using high tensile steels and improving on all safety aspects of the vehicles. The new lightened power plants will move towards Mazda’s goal of reducing fuel consumption by 30 percent in 2015 from its cars from 2008.

The Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV technology includes lightening the construction of the bodywork, with extensive use of high tensile steel and improving on all safety aspects of the vehicles. This reinforces the Mazda sporty driving experience.

Two sparkling new engines with three power outputs – the 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol powerplant with 165ps, or the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel unit – expected to account for 85 percent of UK sales – with outputs of 150ps or 175ps.

Mazda Sky Activ in the Highlands

For the future SKY ACTIV technologies will be enhanced even more and will include regenerative braking systems and hybrid power. Mazda are focused on getting the most out of the internal combustion engine and SKY ACTIV on the CX-5 goes long way towards this goal.[/learn_more]

After a good lunch, alcohol free we then took over the 2.2 Litre Sport Nav with a manual gearbox. The 2.2 Litre is expected to be the flagship of the range in the UK. Driving on and after more spectacular scenery, weather improving we then reached the turning to one of the most fun and spectacular roads in the Highlands, checking the time we then smiled and headed along the Applecross road. A must if you venture up that way in your SUV.

In the CX-5 the six speed manual gear box was smooth and a delight. Mazda have managed to give a short throw gearshift, like the MX-5, to add a bit of sportiness to this SUV = Sports Utility Vehicle.  The extra horsepower and all wheel drive made the car altogether a more enjoyable sporty drive. The car had taughter handling and felt more direct and appealing. Even thought the 0-60 was only slightly improved from the previous model 8.8 as opposed to 9.2 secs it just felt more interesting. I liked the black leather sport interior with the six way adjustable drivers seat, visibility was good in all areas. The extra horsepower on the open road is worth the extra cost. We then headed to the exceptional cosy Torridon Hotel a jewel in the highlands with a warm welcome,  raging fires, an exceptional view and one of the finest whisky bars in the Highlands, with a choice of over 350! Before we were able to park we were asked to try the new SCBS Smart City Brake Support system available as standard on all the CX-5 range. Watch our video HERE surely a step forward in preventing low speed collisions.

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More about Mazda – Soul of Motion Design.  What is Mazda KODO Soul of Motion Design?, Ikuo Maeda, the head of Mazda’s Design Division, explains the new KODO design theme in this way: “In our work to further evolve the expression of motion, Mazda Design has focused on the strength, beauty and tension found in the ‘instantaneous movement’ of animals at the very moment that the motion begins. This motion is so full of vitality that it stirs the emotions of those who see it. We have named it ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’, and our aim is to express movement with forceful vitality and speed, embodying this design theme in Mazda’s upcoming models.

The following day we drove the Mazda CX-5 SE-L this time with a petrol engine, 2 wheel drive  and 165 bhp. Similarly well equipped as standard and in the lowest insurance group of the three tested. The smaller petrol engine was adequate but its lack of torque was noticeable with 210NM compared to 380 and 420 of the alternatives driven. Alongside the lack of torque the MPG figures for the petrol are still a respectable 47.1mpg combined but not quite as bold as 53.3mpg and 54.3mpg for the other two tested. Clearly the diesel models are going to be the choice for UK drivers with Mazda expecting the diesels to be more successful in the UK by far. Although the car had more power, this lack of torque combined to make this version feel less fun than the other two driven.

All the CX-5 models driven featured, excellent fuel consumption and low emissions, more than adequate performance, roomy interiors, quality in all areas, interesting SKY ACTIV cutting edge tech and SCBS braking. Considering an SUV? It is worth taking a look at the Mazda -CX-5.

Niggles – The only one for me was the lack of anything to hold anything secure in the boot on a journey, maybe it was just the highland roads were a bit windy. Some rubber strips, hooks or a net.

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Car Info

Mazda CX-5 Crossover SUV, available Now Priced from £21,395 to £28,795

Similar models in the SUV Market

Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Nissan Qashqai, Audi Q5, Ford Kuga, Land Rover Freelander

Read More Honda articles at search for used Honda CX-5 Here