2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP review (video)

For many years, the Mazda CX-5 enjoyed first position as Australia’s favourite SUV. Now, fierce competition has caught up and some have taken over in terms of sales. Currently, it hovers around second place behind the Toyota RAV4, taking around 20 per cent of its specific SUV market share in Australia.

The CX-5 is considered a safe and rudimentary option for buyers with its strong reputation, quality design, and non-threatening features and powertrains. But there are some considerations Mazda needs to keep in mind to maintain that market share in such a crowded, and in many ways, more advanced market.

One of the CX-5’s strongpoints is the vast range of variants and powertrains it is available in and with. Six trim levels and four engines, with a mix of front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, manual and auto. Across the board, the Japanese-built soft-roader has been freshened up with a minor facelift for 2022.

Here, we’re testing the flagship 2.5 turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that produces 170kW and 420Nm. This unit is available in the GT, GT SP and range-topping Akera. We’re sampling the GT SP, which was newly introduced in 2021. Prices kick off from $31,390 for the base Maxx, while the GT SP 2.5T retails from $51,490 (excluding on-road costs).

2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP – THE SPECS

Engine: 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 170kW@5000rpm / 420Nm@2000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×7.0, 225/55
ANCAP: Five stars
Kerb weight: 1730kg
Power-to-weight: 10.17:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 8.2L/100km
Economy during test: 9.9L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 58L/91 RON

Power efficiency: 20.73kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.86 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.50 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.85 seconds*
1/4 mile: 15.14 seconds at 152.4km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.716g
100-0km/h braking: 3.07 seconds at 39.61 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.116g
Decibel at idle: 39*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 80*
Priced from: $51,490

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP – THE PACKAGE

The facelifted external design is rather unchanged from that familiar look Aussies have come to love. It’s a design language that is unmistakable in all Mazda models. The GT SP inherits a deep glossy black grille surrounded by a prominent shadow chrome surround, and thin and sharp new headlights sit under that bulging bull shark shaped bonnet. Side-on, glossy black 19-inch alloy wheels contrast with the body paint to draw your attention. At the rear, new sculptured taillights stick out and embed circular lamps to make an overall elegant appeal. But it is a design that has been around for a while and is due for a bigger update soon we think.

Inside is a familiar territory. It’s elegantly presented, simple to navigate, comfortable, and everything feels plush and durable. But it lacks any sort of wow-factor against the more modern rivals in our opinion. Smooth, plain panelling with no patterns are applied, the instrument cluster is still analogue, and the steering wheel centre cap design looks like it comes from a Mazda2 from seven years ago. But this might not necessarily be a bad thing to some. Familiarity can be seen as the safe option.

All passengers get plenty of room for long journeys. The rear row is surprisingly spacious with good legroom. Some SUVs put the rear seats on rails so you can balance the space available in the back seat and boot. But the CX-5 does not offer this. However, you can fold the rear seats down from the boot or the backseat – that, we do like. There is a lack of charging ports in the back for today’s market, too.

Speaking of the boot, the space available for your luggage is officially 442 litres. It looks to be a decently sized boot to the eye. But it is under average compared to the competition. The Toyota RAV4 offers 542 litres, the Ford Escape fits 556 litres, and the Hyundai Tucson presents 539L. Folding the back seats down expands the space in the CX-5 to 1342 litres.

Sitting high on the dash is a wide but short 10.25-inch multimedia screen. When moving it can be navigated not by touch, but by a control knob down below. It allows you to browse things like the built-in sat-nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay services, digital radio, and fiddle with the settings for the premium Bose 10-speaker sound system – it sounds brilliant.

The price is reasonable when you consider all the features the GT SP comes with as standard. Nothing notable has been omitted. Some highlight features include heated front seats, full responsive and proactive safety assist systems, distance-controlled cruise control, auto high beam with active shadowing, head-up info display, road sign recognition, a powered tailgate, tyre pressure sensors, and a mobile phone wireless charger.

Mazda offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and five years of free roadside assistance. However, servicing is required every 10,000km or 12 months, which is comparatively frequent if you plan to do lots of travelling.

2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP – THE DRIVE

The GT SP variant is available with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine or a turbocharged version. Being a higher spec variant, we think it really should come with the 2.5T engine by default. 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque are finally some outputs from Mazda that can excite. It boosts up to the speed of traffic without struggle.

That turbo gives it the oomph it deserves. And all that torque means that hills and a full carload are not an issue. It pulls away with positive, confident momentum. The 0-100km/h test is officially clocked in 7.7 seconds. Our test measured a best of 7.50 seconds, using the ‘brake-hold’ method by building revs on the brake before setting off. Without doing that and simply flooring it, it took 7.83 seconds.

The pitfall with the 2.5T engine is that it burns more fuel than the non-turbo version. This offers an official average consumption of 8.2L/100km, which is 0.8L/100km more than the regular 2.5L AWD (7.4L/100km). It’s also significantly higher than the market segment standard – and that is a big deal currently with inflated petrol prices. Our average was an abysmal 9.9L/100km, which was made up of city and highway driving.

Ideally, Mazda should be getting the 2.5T’s power outputs from an engine that is twenty per cent smaller. Maybe then it could be a little more fuel efficient. Other manufacturers have been able to achieve this. Six gear ratios could be considered a low number compared with other SUVs on the market as well. More ratios could help to improve efficiency.

But, that aside, the engine does work with the gearbox faultlessly. And its oodles better than the CVT autos popping up everywhere these days. Gear shifting is so smooth and polished, you don’t feel it as a passenger, under light or heavy acceleration. It also works intuitively to set up the right gear ahead of time before you accelerate out of a corner.

On the road, the CX-5 feels particularly manageable to handle. In other words, it holds its footprint in the lane strongly. And when those unavoidable bumps come by your track, it soaks them up confidently and surprisingly quietly. You feel a predictable SUV-like body roll when taking on corners hurriedly. But it’s well within expectations, and worth it to get that smooth ride. Road noise and vibration levels are low, except there is some engine harshness when revved hard.

2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP – THE VIDEO

2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP – THE VERDICT

The Mazda CX-5 will still be the safe and predictable option for many mid-sized SUV buyers. And this current gen has been around for a long time now. It has never done anything wrong, but it lacks any striking traits or zest for 2022. Boring for some. An old, familiar fave for others. Hopefully the next model will improve on fuel consumption.

– GT SP variant is feature-packed and looks great
– Premium feel inside with top build quality
– Nice driving dynamics
– MZD media interface hand controller still ahead of most rivals

– High fuel consumption
– Lacks any spark or cutting-edge features for 2022 model
– Small boot compared with modern rivals

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.