Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted April 22, 2014 15:53
Bang for the buck
Mazda is on a SkyActiv-powered roll. Their proprietary SkyActiv tech centered around efficiencies gained in terms of the engine, transmission, body and chassis have garnered their models awards around the world, including the 2013-2014 Car of the Year Philippines award for the Mazda6.
The charge actually began in 2012 with the Mazda CX-5, a compact crossover SUV that the then-distributor of Mazda in the country (Ford Group Philippines) introduced. Sadly, they didn't capitalize on the potential of SkyActiv, as the distributorship of Mazda was in the process of being turned over to Berjaya Auto Philippines by the end of that year. Now, Mazda Philippines has the CX-5 FWD PRO, a new, more affordable, more economical variant in the CX-5 family.
Let's see how it gets on.
In terms of design, not much has changed over the previous CX-5's we've driven. The ride height is the same, the stance is the same, the design is the same. The FWD PRO, being an 'entry-level' version of the CX-5 line, has omitted a few things like the sunroof and the larger wheels but other than that it's identical. I would also say that the shade of blue that Mazda has applied onto this car is quite striking, even when compared to the Soul Red that has become the brand's signature color.
Normally you would expect a lower grade model to have much less features than the top-of-the-line one, but Mazda Philippines isn't reading from the conventional playbook. The interior is exactly the same as the top spec versions and lined in leather that's comfortable, making the CX-5 FWD PRO perfect for long drives for 5.
The standard features are virtually identical par with the top spec 2.5L. On top of the usual power features (steering, windows, mirrors and locks), iStop is standard along with traction control, auto climate control and cruise control. The audio system is the same and has USB input, Aux input and Bluetooth. Even the smart keyless entry and push button start are fitted into the CX-5 FWD PRO.
Beyond the features, what Mazda really highlights in the CX-5 FWD PRO, not to mention the new wave of Mazda vehicles including the Mazda6 and newly launched Mazda3, is the great SkyActiv system that encompasses the engine, transmission, body and chassis. All of these systems combined are meant to deliver improved fuel economy and better performance.
The engine is the same as the CX-5 we drove back in 2012: a 2.0 liter SkyActiv-G gasoline engine. The high compression direct injection motor makes 155 PS and 200 Newton meters of torque, all of which are transferred to the ground via a 6-speed SkyActiv automatic transmission. As the badging indicates, this version is a front wheel drive model, as opposed to the top-of-the-line, all wheel drive 2.5L Sport.
In the city, the CX-5 impresses. It's quite roomy inside even for the rear occupants. The ride is a little firmer than say, a RAV4, but not overly so. In tight and congested city streets the FWD PRO is nimble and agile for a crossover, all thanks to the chassis and body.
As for fuel economy, the CX-5 FWD PRO's trip computer indicates a consumption of 10.8 liters per 100 kilometers (Driver and passenger, light to moderate traffic) or 9.3 kilometers to a liter. Out of town, the 2.0L CX-5 impresses even further, as the same computer yielded 7.2 liters/100 kilometers, or 13.9 km/l.
A major reason for these numbers is the overall combination of the engine, transmission, body and chassis. All have been optimized for better fuel economy through direct injection, the high compression ratio, improved shifting and even lighter weight through the use of boron steel on the body. All these things may sound like they give the CX-5 or any other SkyActiv vehicle the manners of something like a Prius, but not so. Far from it, in fact.
On an open road, the CX-5 FWD PRO impresses even more than it does at the fuel pump. The lightness of being that this crossover has exceeds what is expected in its class. As a 2.0 liter, it's not that quick, but braking, handling, weight control and driving manners all give whoever is behind the wheel the confidence to have fun on any road, winding or otherwise. What would be really interesting is to see how this would compare to its real competition: the Subaru Forester.
Overall, the Mazda CX-5 FWD PRO is a greatly balanced package right from the showroom floor. If you're in need of a crossover that does everything and then some, perhaps this one might be well worth considering.