“WHAT a beautiful car,” exclaimed the boss of a Chinese takeaway in the Derbyshire Peak District market town of Bakewell as I parked my test car outside and called in for a curry, writes Bryan Longworth.
The object of his admiration was the new bright red Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV which did look good with its stylish body and the new large Audi-like front grille which will be the family face for all future Mazda cars - although I was a bit taken aback by his very enthusiastic acclamation.
As well as having a beautiful and shapely body, the CX-5 also incorporates what Mazda describe as SkyActiv technology which centres on three key areas - sophisticated lightweight platform technology, advanced fuel saving engines and efficient manual and automatic transmissions.
The styling of the CX-5 reminded me of the Nissan Qashqai which started this market sector but I found the Mazda a more dynamic car than the Qashqai I once owned and there is no doubt that this Mazda raises the bar in the very competitive crossover class.
CX-5 can be acquired with either two or four wheel drive and my test car was the two wheel drive CX-5 2.2 SE-L Nav Auto which had a 150bhp diesel engine and automatic transmission and cost £24,695.
The 2.2-litre engine provided the CX-5 with a top speed of 123mph, a zero to 62mph time of 10 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km - the on board trip computer showed the fuel consumption to be less than this figure which is normal for most cars in real world driving.
I liked the design of the roomy and comfortable interior especially the controls and instruments apart from one thing - the location of the engine stop-start button which was completely hidden behind the winker stalk and even I could have found a more user friendly location for this control!
On the road the diesel engine provided a very lively and quiet performance and the car had good handling qualities with smooth changes on the six speed automatic gearbox although I would have preferred the steering to have had a little more feel about it.
At the rear is a large load area that will hold enough holiday luggage and equipment for most owners and underneath this there is a puncture repair kit but no spare wheel which is now the norm with most new cars - although I prefer a spare or space saver wheel and paid £80 for the security of a spare wheel on my last new car.
Overall I liked the CX-5 and Mazda has done a really good job with the car but it is unfortunate that they did not launch it earlier before other competitors became established especially Qashqai which is now beginning to get a bit long in the tooth.
My Verdict: An MPV that should be seriously considered.