In the case of our test drive, the roads were a mixture of tight and slick, sweeping and drenched, with plenty of scope to verify the 9.3sec 0-62mph sprint time between bends – hardly rapid but far from dull – and tackle bends enthusiastically. This being Mazda’s least overtly sporting car, dynamic verve is hardly going to be the factor that nabs the bulk of buyers, but even in this prevailingly sensible and staid segment, there’s got to be room to cut loose occasionally.
There’s a fair bit of lean to contend with, obviously, even when not going for it – but for the most part, the CX-5 feels well tied down and predictably composed. The steering becomes perceptibly weightier off centre and torque-vectoring trickery makes it possible to almost pivot through tight corners at speed, but at all times, there’s a sense of disengagement between the thin-rimmed steering wheel and the front wheels, and it quickly becomes clear that although the CX-5 is more inspiring to pilot through the twisties than its competitors might be, this is not a car that will tempt you out of bed for a blast before the kids get up. But you didn’t expect it to be, so that’s fine.
Sport mode, added as part of the newly integrated Mi-Drive powertrain management system, makes everything a bit louder and redder for that artificially enhanced sporting experience, which only begins to feel slightly less synthetic with the gearbox operated manually through the column-mounted paddles. In this scenario, the Mazda manages to entertain beyond what might be considered the bare minimum, but the bar – let’s remember – is not a high one to clear in this regard. The four-wheel-drive range-topper also gets an Off-road mode for peace of mind and ease of use over more challenging terrain, although it may as well be called ‘Football Practice’ mode and reserved exclusively for Sunday mornings.
The CX-5 is at its best in day-to-day driving scenarios, rolling smoothly and quietly over all but the most chasmic of imperfections, and dependably maintaining grip at each end when the going gets greasy. Gripes extend to a vibration through the steering wheel and seat base over crumbly Tarmac and a noticeable amount of tyre and wind roar at speed, but neither of these overly blights the driving experience and the CX-5 is a capable tourer, irrespective of specification.