This refreshed model now has squintier headlights, a wider grille and a longer bonnet—a few refinements to the original design; all while still retaining its core Kodo DNA and its lineup of renowned, full SKYACTIV engines.
Mazda/Photo Release
Mazda CX-5 Sport SKYACTIV-D: Fun, frugal and fantastic
Angel Rivero (philstar.com) - February 22, 2019 - 1:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Crossovers — they're generally elevated, versatile, commodious, but hardly ever top-of-mind when it comes to spirited driving. At least not until you start entering the luxury realm and the world of luxury pricing.

And then there are the occasional exceptions in the mainstream market—“driver's cars” of the segment, if you would like to call them.

Hard to miss here is the driver-centric Mazda CX-5 premium compact crossover: A capable albeit very elegantly designed vehicle that pleases its driver and passengers with premium vehicle appointments amid an enjoyable ride.

If you will recall, the Mazda CX-5 won the prestigious Japan Car of the Year 2012-2013 title shortly after it was first launched. It is a core model in the Mazda lineup; and of late, has risen to be recognized as the brand's current top-selling product, globally.

That says a lot about this charismatic crossover, which was designed and engineered with much passion by a small car company that always valued the preservation of driving fun.

The current CX-5 on offer is the second edition of the full SKYACTIV model, based on Mazda's evolution of Kodo: Soul of Motion design concept; and this time, is more specifically inspired by Mazda's globally acclaimed “RX Vision” concept car—which has won several awards, including Best Concept Car of the Year at the 31st Festival Automobile International.

You will notice that this refreshed model now has squintier headlights, a wider grille and a longer bonnet—a few refinements to the original design; all while still retaining its core Kodo DNA and its lineup of renowned, full SKYACTIV engines.

I had the pleasure of testing the much-coveted 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport SKYACTIV-D—its turbocharged, 2.2L diesel variant.

The current CX-5 on offer is the second edition of the full SKYACTIV model, based on Mazda's evolution of Kodo: Soul of Motion design concept. Photo Release

This 5-door crossover comes gifted with a luxurious 10-speaker Bose surround sound system, housed within a driver-centric cabin brimming with classy touches. From the genuine leather seats to the soft-touch surfaces, the interior of the CX-5 is nothing short of premium—except without the premium price.

A 7-inch tablet-style screen sits within the driver's easy line of vision at the dash, and its controls are operated via an instinctive rotary knob surrounded by easy shortcut buttons, located beside the driver.

The vehicle also offers a truly convenient HUD (Heads Up Display) projected on the windshield within the natural line of sight of the driver (which may be adjusted based on the driver's height), to provide speed and other important information without requiring the driver to take his or her eyes off the road.

These are all manifestations of Mazda's core design goal of achieving “Jinba Ittai” or “horse and rider as one,” which translates into the ideal of the operator becoming one with his vehicle—and therefore being able to instinctively maintain control with a high level of synergy.

In fact, so many little details can be traced to achieving Jinba Ittai—whether it be from the basic driver's seat architecture, ergonomically designed to promote the best driving position (optimized by a power-operated mechanism); or the spatial placement of the pedals, to ensure that it promotes the most natural position possible and therefore reduces driving fatigue; to the visual location of the instrument gauges and to the pleasant feeling of every single contour subject to human interface.

That, I think, is part of the magic of every Mazda—that it does the driver a service, in least obvious ways but with significant, collective impact to the overall driving experience.

Mazda's core design goal is to achieve “Jinba Ittai” or “horse and rider as one,” which translates into the ideal of the operator becoming one with his vehicle. Photo Release

Speaking of driving experience, did I say that Mazdas were fun to drive?

The Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport SKYACTIV-D is no different. Exploiting its SKYACTIV diesel engine gives that extra oomph that is truly wonderful for highway driving and passing.

In the city setting, it offers real nice low-end power that makes it a pleasure to operate even in stop-and-go. Steering is well-weighted and precise; and handling the vehicle is truly a joy—especially from the perspective of a crossover SUV!

What also makes a subtle but collectively significant difference is Mazda's proprietary G-Vectoring Control (GVC) technology. It is an innovative technology that reduces the engine torque on each wheel, based on the driver's steering inputs. It improves chassis performance by controlling engine output, and optimizes vehicle dynamics at such a minute level—it cannot be done by humans themselves. The result is less driver corrections necessary, more efficient driving and a significant reduction in driver fatigue.

I have always loved the visual proportions of the CX-5, and the deep, glossy body colors that they come in, which require the use of expensive and highly sophisticated paint facilities to achieve.

Our current supply of CX-5 vehicles in the country now come imported from Mazda's new Kulim plant in Malaysia. The model maintains the great build quality it has been recognized for, and you can quickly determine that right from initial inspection.

Adding extra spice to the CX-5 are adaptive LED headlamps, real-world fuel economy—it's a diesel, after all—and advanced active safety features such as: a Blind Spot Monitoring system, Lane Departure Warning alert, and Lane Keep Assist.

The crossover also offers an electric parking brake with auto hold (via the click of a switch), and a convenient power liftgate.

Behind the second row is 30.9 cubic feet of storage space, expandable to 59.6 cubic feet with its 40/20/40 split foldable rear seats. I particularly like the low load floor of the trunk, which makes it easier for petite women like me to load cargo in the back.

The CX-5's deep, glossy body colors, in which they come in, require the use of expensive and highly sophisticated paint facilities to achieve. Photo Release

Moreover, the wide-opening doors of the CX-5 make it easy to load in pets in their bulky carriers, and to bring in and install child's seats.

Fortunately for the rear passengers, this vehicle has reclining rear seats. And to share the love via breaths of cool air, the second row also has its own rear a/c vents, as well as USB ports located at the center arm rest.

As mainstream crossovers pull back on power, Mazda seems to have other things on its mind.

The CX-5 driving experience is truly engaging; and with extra scoot underfoot for the diesel variant. Therefore, the CX-5 is an excellent contender in the country's highly-competitive, crossover SUV market—especially for customers who are looking for more than just the typical crossover capabilities and space.

Most uniquely, the CX-5 offers an intangible, special “driver-in-charge” experience amid premium equipment, without the premium price tag.

And finally, Mazda's YOJIN3 Free Preventive Maintenance Service is a tempting proposition for a worry-free ownership experience for the next three years from purchase. You can inquire more about it when you visit your nearest Mazda dealership and schedule a test-drive.

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