2014 Mazda CX-5 GT
2014 Mazda CX-5 GT
2014 Mazda CX-5 GT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

Five hundred millilitres is about the size of the proper 20 oz Imperial measure of beer, and at the end of a long week, what a difference a properly poured pint can make to one’s mental well-being. Work done, shoes off, kids in bed, and the weekend’s chores tomorrow’s problem – sure it’s grand, so ’tis. Slainté.

Of course, where Mazda’s clean-sheet entry into the crossover market is concerned, relaxing was never a problem. Allow me to explain.

Mazda held their launch event at the challenging Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track; when the invite showed up via e-mail, my eyebrows raised to a point somewhere about six inches above the top of my head. A crossover at a race course? Come on guys, be serious.

However, the racetrack report from a notoriously hard-to-impress colleague of mine (I sat out the event) was almost unequivocal in its praise. Here, finally, was a trucklet worthy to share a badge with a spec-MX-5.

Thrilled to see how the CX-5 would do in the real world, I picked up a 2.0L-equipped tester with considerable anticipation. Together, we attacked the mountain roads and, well, it was okay. I guess….

In a classic Mazda move, a thrilling, sharp-steering chassis had been wedded to a powertrain that was willing but a bit wimpy. Underneath the 2.0L CX-5’s hood they’d installed a Jack Russell terrier: scrappy, yappy, straining at the leash, but not much pulling power.

With the smaller four-cylinder, the CX-5 reminded me instantly of the old Protegé5 wagon. Do your best Fred Astaire on the pedals and stir the gear-stick like a butter churn, and it’s quite a fun drive; load it up and show it hilly terrain and it struggles somewhat.

So, here we are with the same CUV, albeit with a slightly bigger engine under the hood. Twenty-five percent more displacement, fifteen percent more power. You’d think it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. You’d be wrong; if they’ve installed an extra pint, it’s a pint of Red Bull.

First, a general overview of the CX-5. There’s much to like about this little truck from a curb-appeal perspective. It’s nicely put together, conservatively styled and sensibly boxy where competitors try to out-swoosh each other with form-over-function styling experiments. I’ve said before that the front end reminds me of Angry Birds – I can’t quite put my finger on why, though I stand by the observation – but overall it’s a sharp design, and one that looks like it’ll age well. Think 2004–2009 Mazda3.

2014 Mazda CX-5 GT2014 Mazda CX-5 GT
2014 Mazda CX-5 GT. Click image to enlarge

This GT-spec model comes equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, and that puts me in mind of the P5 again, with its expensive-to-replace low-profile tires. For wintertime, you should be able to fit a set of 16-inch alloys over the brakes, but I might suggest 17-inchers as a minimum.

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