The bane of sport utility vehicles, compact crossovers included, is their infamy for being gas-guzzlers. Equipped with four-wheel drive this and electronic doodad that, they do deliver outstanding driving performance at the expense of burning a sizable hole in your wallet due to terrible fuel mileage. It’s for this reason why some buyers skip this genre altogether and instead move up to a mid-sized SUV powered by a lean-burning diesel. However, Mazda wants you to re-consider the compact crossover once more; one that doesn’t sacrifice driving performance for the sake of great fuel economy. They want you to take a look at the new Mazda CX-5 Pro.
“New” isn’t exactly the best term to describe the Mazda CX-5 Pro. From tip to stern, it is the very same CX-5 that debuted in the Philippine market two years ago. So with the exception of an additional exterior color, Soul Red, the CX-5 Pro speaks the all too familiar Mazda design language of KODO – Soul of Motion. The process of drilling down to the specifics of Mazda’s design philosophy may sound repetitive for anyone remotely interested in cars (after all, it was driven the year it launched in both M/T and A/T variants and soon as the range-topping 2.5 AWD Sport), but there’s little denying it still looks good. It’s been around since 2012, but the CX-5 looks millimeter perfect with its sweeping and swooping lines, complex projector headlamps, and clean (i.e. roof rail-less) roofline. There’s little to criticize maybe except it looks a tad like the Hyundai Tucson in some angles and the 225/65R17 tires are just too tiny. Those points aside, the CX-5 is still one of the, if not, the most handsome compact crossovers you can buy today.
Once you step inside, the “rinse and repeat” storyline of the CX-5 starts to wane. Now considered as their mid-level variant (though the base model has officially bitten the dust), the “Pro” in CX-5 Pro nets you leather not just on the steering wheel, but on the seats as well. The cowhide is well executed and gives more sense of luxury to the CX-5’s sporty cabin. Oddly enough, this perforated number features red stitching, a detail not found anywhere else in the CX-5’s interior. In addition, the door trims are still finished in the same jersey-like fabric found in the base CX-5. The mismatched stitching and use of cloth on the door trim aside, the rest of the CX-5’s cabin is well screwed together with soft, plush plastics on the upper dash and doors. There are still some hard plastics, but these are relegated to areas that you normally won’t and don’t touch or even see, so it’s perfectly fine.
Without mincing words, the CX-5’s seats aren’t the most comfortable, especially for the driver on long drives. But the seats on the CX-5 Pro are an exception, well at least for the front seats anyway. It’s as if Mazda plopped down the Mazda6’s seats into the CX-5 and called it a day. Whatever they did to these leather seats, it features excellent bum, thigh, and lumbar support. A drive to Santa Rosa one day and Clark the next aren’t tiring anymore. The backseats though are still pretty much the same, so passengers will end up with cushions which are several centimeters short of comfortable. This could mean complaints from the elderly and highly sensitive occupants. The rest of the cabin ergonomics are pretty much standard CX-5 fare: highly readable gauges, excellent steering wheel adjustment, and easy-to-reach controls. And though you sit a bit higher, the CX-5 does an excellent emulation of what it feels like driving a sports sedan. Space-wise, the CX-5 won’t win any awards; it’s good for four adults and luggage. If you plan to sit three at the back, better make sure they’re comfy sitting intimately close to each other.
The Mazda CX-5 is designed to maximize driving fun, and the Pro delivers the most returns; even outshining the 2.5 AWD Sport. Honestly, if you’re considering a CX-5 to fill your garage, it should be this one. Equipped with a 2.0-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque, the CX-5 won’t win any sort of horsepower race. But since the real world isn’t about Trump Card figures, the CX-5 Pro delivers a great mix of driving fun and excellent fuel economy. For one, it gives up 135 kilograms of weight over the 2.5 AWD Sport and trades just 33 horsepower and 50 Nm—that’s just 10 percent less horsepower per metric ton. The lighter weight makes itself felt almost immediately with the CX-5 Pro’s quicker power pick up and better off-the-line feel. Without using a stopwatch (and you really shouldn’t care), the CX-5 Pro feels quicker to the most important person in the cabin: the driver. It’s also remarkably quieter and more refined than the larger Skyactiv engine. Shifts from the 6-speed automatic are smooth and imperceptible. The CX-5 doesn’t come with paddle shifters, and in the case of the Pro, you don’t need it. It shifts up or down when you want and need it to. It’s almost telepathic.
The “Pro” in CX-5 Pro might as well stand for “professional fuel miser” since it’s very easy to drive economically. Driving normally, with air conditioning on and stuck in traffic, the CX-5 Pro can return 11.11 km/L in the city, a 10-percent improvement over the regular CX-5 and an impressive 30-percent jump over the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport thanks to its standard i-stop function that automatically shuts off the engine when idling in traffic. On highways though, the CX-5 Pro returns the same mileage figures as its non-i-stop equipped counterpart which is somewhere in the 17 km/L range.
Like its highway fuel mileage, the CX-5 Pro’s on-road behavior is fairly unchanged from the base model, so expect an exhilarating drive with good steering feel, excellent brakes, and a very balanced ride. Exterior visibility is excellent, so placing the CX-5 in traffic is easy. Parking it is equally easy, but it now comes with a reverse camera (no parking sensors) to help you out in tighter quarters. On the subject of ride, when the CX-5 Pro was first picked up from Mazda Philippines’s office, the ride is oddly soft and supple, like that of an executive sedan. A quick check revealed though that the tires were pumped at 32 PSI on all fours, when the recommended tire pressure is 38 PSI in front and 41 at the back; still even after packing the recommended pressure into the tires, the CX-5 Pro still managed a firm but comfortable ride.
For all intents and purposes, the Mazda CX-5 Pro could have suffered from the “middle child syndrome”, neglected and forgotten in lieu of its flashier big brother and more bang-for-the-buck little brother. However, this is farther from the truth. More than anything, the CX-5 Pro shines as the best example in Mazda’s compact crossover stable. It may not offer as much toys as the 2.5 AWD Sport, but it nicely tiptoes the balance between luxury and value-for-money. It’s the definite CX-5 and one that’s worthy of its P 1,455,000 price tag.
2014 Mazda CX-5 Pro
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door Crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||155 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||200 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Unleaded / 93~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,451|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No (Reverse Camera)|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|