The Mazda CX-5 eventually fills whathas been a gaping hole in Mazda Australia’s line-up by becoming thebrand’s first diesel-powered passenger vehicle on an automatictransmission. Although Australians have warmed to the added torqueand increased fuel efficiency of diesel engines in recent years, wehave lost our love of the clutch pedal at an also faster rate,forcing manufacturers to offer self-shifting gearboxes or riskbecoming irrelevant in the marketplace. The introduction of the twoMazda CX-5 diesel models – Maxx Sport and the range-topping GrandTouring – completes the all-new medium SUV line-up that launchedlast month with the petrol variants.

Both models characteristic Mazda’severything-new 2.2-liter diesel engine and six-speed automatictransmission, every-wheel drive, and a lighter, stronger body andbody – everything of which were developed under the brand’s‘Skyactiv’ efficiency strategy. The high beginning cost for thediesel models will exclude a number of prospective purchasers fromthe outset – Mazda Australia has no plans to introduce a cheaperMaxx diesel – while compared with the superseded CX-7 Diesel Sportsmanual, the CX-5 represents good value.

Low-speed limit inputs provoke a raspynote, but the engine shows few other characteristic diesel traits.There is no start-up or idle clatter – and, of course, no noise ateverything when the standard ‘i-stop’ stop-start system kicks into switch off the engine at idle to bring down fuel consumption.Firmer acceleration inputs are rewarded with an enthusiastic,metallic engine sound, instead of the gruffer, less sophisticatedgrowls common among its competitors.

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The diesel’s 9.4-second 0-100km/hsprint time may be no better as compare to the base model petrolmanual, but it is far more capable and instantiate when you ask it toaccelerate onto a highway or overtake at higher speeds. The dieselsare 94kg heavier as compare to their AWD petrol counterparts –ranging from 1637kg to 1687kg – and have an identical 1800kg brakedtowing capacity.

Contempt the performance benefits, theEuro 4-compliant powerplant has an official fuel consumption ratingof 5.7 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 149 grams per kilometre– better as compare to many petrol-powered small cars. We achieved7.7L/100km on the launch – an acceptable result affordable ourdrive route included no freeway stints.

We were critical of the automatic forchanging up gears so hurriedly in the petrol variants, but it looksbetter behaved when teamed on the diesel engine. Shifts are smoothand commonly considerable timed, and the engine’s additional torquecreates it more forgiving of any tardy down modifications. What hasnot altered from the petrol variants is the CX-5’s brilliant rideand managing features. Despite its taller body and boosted rideheight, the CX-5 does not bounce or roll excessively. The suspensiondeals on ruts, potholes and undulations without drama, letting thecar to sit flat and remain poised and comfortable over a scope ofsurfaces and road qualities.

The steering is considerably weighted,provides consistent feel regardless of the vehicle speed, and has anunrivaled ability to negotiate tight corners and hairpins withintoxicating ease. Road noise is less intrusive as compareto few of Mazda’s other passenger cars, while wind noise from thelarge side mirrors and the top of the A-pillars detracts from anotherwise considerable insulated interior.The 4.5m long CX-5 embracesMazda’s new ‘Kodo’ design language, highlighted by theassertive headlights and prominent grille, curved body contours andstrong shoulder line, and neat rear with its short overhang.

Contempt having a shorter wheelbase ascompared to the CX-7, the CX-5’s cabin is more spacious. Both diesel variants characteristic40:20:40 split rear seats, which can be folded flat independentlyeither by using levers in the cargo area or buttons inside the cabin.Capacity expands from a respectable 403 liters to 1560 liters witheverything rear seats folded forwards. The look and feel of theCX-5’s interior is among the best in its class, on soft plasticsacross the dashboard and front doors and high-gloss black and satininserts to add contrast the dark tones. The scratch-prone plastichousing over the climate control display and some panel fit issuestake away from the premium ambiance.

The front seats’ thin bases suitslender bodies better as compared to larger ones, and the Maxx Sportcould do on the Grand Touring’s driver-slope lumbar support. Rearpassengers are unlikely to be wanting for room in any direction,while the lack of rear air vents could make “shotgun” a popularsummer catch-cry. Forward visibility is satisfactory for the driverwhile the view over your left shoulder is impeded by the sizabletriangular D-pillar.

The CX-5 diesel models are veryoutfitted to their petrol siblings. The Maxx Sport – theentry-level diesel but essentially the mid-spec model above thepetrol-only Maxx – features 17-inch alloy wheels, automaticheadlights and wipers, fog lights, dual-zone climate control,satellite navigation, push-button start, cruise control, and asix-speaker sound system with USB input and Bluetooth phoneconnectivity with audio streaming.