by Doug Gutrie
Last summer, I drove the 2013 Mazda CX-5 and thought, huh?
The compact crossover SUV was well regarded, a finalist for the Detroit North American International Auto Show Truck of the Year award. Yet the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine was weak and buzzy-sounding.
Since then, Mazda upgraded the 2014 CX-5 lineup by adding 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines with 29 more horsepower and 35 more pound-feet of torque to its upper level Touring and Grand Touring models.
The new engine is more than more powerful. It is plush because the increased power peaks at lower rpm than the small engine in the Sport model. It’s working harder while making it feel and sound like less effort. More moxie and a meatier sound from the engine bay completes the CX-5 package while sacrificing little fuel economy in front-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive configuration.
Introduced last year, the CX-5’s price was competitive, its handling nimble, fuel economy class-leading and looks unique. Despite the small engine that forces its transmission to do a lot of shifting to deliver power on demand, CX-5’s abundant good qualities made it an instant success.
CX-5 replaced CX-7, a vehicle dating back to Mazda’s Ford partnership. It had shared underlying architecture with the boxy previous-generation Ford Escape. Three years after the breakup, CX-5 is completely new. It immediately became Mazda’s second best-selling vehicle, behind the compact Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks.
CX-5 is roomy. There’s more legroom up front than in Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and VW Tiguan. Rear legroom is better than CR-V, Sportage, and Tucson. It equals Escape and Tiguan. Only CR-V has more total passenger space.
The CX-5’s long hood and forward-leaning looks come from Mazda’s latest interpretation of “Kodo Soul of Motion” design. There’s a lot in common here with the new Mazda6 sedan. The badge-shaped grille is a better direction than the grilles that looked like smiley faces.
From the inside, the windshield and hood feel low, giving good visibility forward. Not so good aft, through the small lift gate window. The seating position is high and commanding; the suspension is taut and handles well in the curves.
The practicality of the crossover is the big cargo space that gets bigger with the back seats folded down.
The interior of CX-5 isn’t as nice as Mazda6. It has similar styling with leather-like soft touch materials on the dash and doors, shiny piano-black horizontal accents give the cockpit a wide appearance. But where there is metal trim in the sedan, there is hard, undisguised plastic in the crossover. The area surrounding the shifter looks cheap.
Mazda has simple three-knob environmental controls and a nice, deep padded pocket at the base of the center stack for cell phones. The seats appear to be the same comfortable, well-bolstered units in Mazda6.
The 5.8-inch color touch screen, standard with a backup camera in the Touring model and above, is surrounded by redundant buttons. It’s a good thing, because the optional TomTom navigation system is slow and requires you to follow rigid complicated voice commands.
The most popular model has been the Touring edition, which comes standard with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for wireless phones and music players. It’s a $400 option on the base Sport model.
All models come with push button start. Options include blind zone alert and something Mazda calls the Smart City Brake System that can detect a pedestrian or a dog ahead and bring the CX-5 to a halt when operating at less than 15 mph.
Grand Touring gets leather and 19-inch alloy wheels that look sporty, but add more tire rumble to the already noisier than average cabin. The ride was more comfortable and quieter with the higher profile tires on 17-inch alloy wheels that are stock on all other models. The competitors in this class come with standard steel wheels and hub caps.
The nimble character of a $30,340 Grand Touring model I tested had me pushing the gas pedal hard and often. So the 25.9 mpg performance I saw in a mix of city, highway and twisty country roads wasn’t bad. The vehicle is EPA rated for 25 mpg city, 32 highway and a combined average of 27 mpg.
If you are looking for maximum mpg, a front-wheel-drive Sport model with a standard, five-speed manual transmission gets an EPA rated 26 mpg city and 35 highway. That’s the best fuel efficiency in the compact SUV class. With all-wheel-drive fuel economy drops to 25 city and 31 highway.
The larger engine is a better match for the bulk of the SUV, earning a rating of 25 mpg city and 32 highway with front-wheel-drive. The all-wheel-drive version gets 24 city and 30 highway. Mazda claims CX-5 can travel 400 miles on a tank of gas.
With the end of the Ford partnership, Mazda had to find new ways to build its cars, launching a holistic engineering approach. Mazda hasn’t gone the hybrid or turbocharger route. Skyactiv technology improves every element of vehicle performance through attention to detail and maximizing system potential. The cars are lighter and their structures stiffer. The engines have higher compression ratios coaxing power and efficiency from lighter weight engines.
Diesel engines in the Mazda6 are next, the first offered by a Japanese manufacturer in North American. How long it will take before the high mileage diesels find their way into Mazda’s SUVs depends on how well they sell in the midsize sedan.
For those of you who are keeping track, yes, I said the same 2.5-liter engine failed to put any real zoom into the new Mazda6 when introduced in March. But that’s a larger, midsize car. The new diesel engine option with its powerful torque is on the way soon for Mazda6.
Adding the 2.5-liter engine put CX-5 on par with the power of its well regarded competitors. It now matches CR-V’s horsepower and is stronger than any competitor’s engines that aren’t turbocharged.
Sometimes you have to be patient before you can, as the Mazda ads say, Zoom Zoom.
Even Mazda, which has enjoyed such incredible success in the roadster market, isn’t resting on its laurels. The new fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 is currently being developed in conjunction with Alfa Romeo so that the two companies can share the initial investment and boost profits. The project will also spawn a new Alfa Spider – but there are no signs that the MX-5’s winning formula will be diluted in any way.
As our exclusive image shows, the styling falls into line with the current Mazda model range thanks to the large, shield-shaped grille and hawk-eye headlights, as well as bodywork that swoops tightly around the rear-wheel-drive chassis beneath.
Besides the basic steel structure, the Mazda MX-5 won’t share very much with the Alfa. The new MX-5 will be powered by unique 1.3 and 1.5-litre turbocharged engines with just enough performance to let the chassis’ talents shine through. With high-strength steels used throughout, engineers are aiming to strip at least 100kg from the current MX-5’s kerbweight, with 1,050kg the target figure. And a sub-£20,000 price tag will help the car retain its reputation for value.
NASCAR betting picks
At one stage this season Jimmie Johnson looked an absolute certainty to win NASCAR 2013, with a huge points lead over everyone else, but those who chose to put their outright bets on Johnson may be sweating just a little bit, as recent weeks have seen his lead get whittled down. It should be acknowledged at this point that he is still the bookies top pick to win the 2013 Sprint Cup Series, at 8/5, it is just that he is no longer quite the sure thing that he seemed to be a little while back. So who are the other drivers that could be worth a punt?
Well although the standings show him as being well off the pace – eighty two points behind to be exact – Matt Kenseth is down as one of the favourites with the bookmakers at 6/1; so why is that? Well he has won four events this season, which is actually more than Johnson has managed, which suggests that he just needs to secure better placings in the events he doesn’t win. Kyle Busch, with two race wins and one hundred and ten points deficit is another possible (if more risky) pick at 8/1, while Carl Edwards at 15/1 should also not be forgotten. He hasn’t had the wins, but is just thirty two points behind Johnson in the standings. What this goes to show is just how much there is to take into account with NASCAR betting, and why some motor racing fans play online casino games like Motor Slot Speed Machine instead.
With games like this five reel, twenty pay line slot game you don’t have to worry about points versus race wins and other issues – you just put your money in and you’re away. There is also the little matter of the $50,000 jackpot, which is a sum few are likely to win by betting on NASCAR 2013, while the game involving a race between three motor bikes of different colours that you trigger when you score 1000 points is one of the major bonuses of this game for racing fans. The video graphics bring this scenario to life vividly, and let you feel like a racer as well as a gambler, which is surely what every motor sports fan secretly dreams of.
by James Raia of The Weekly Driver
Now in the second year of its debut generation, the 2014 The Mazda CX-5 continues the carmaker’s third-time’s-the-charm good fortune. The compact, five-passenger sport utility vehicle follows the not-to-successful Tribute and CX-7, and it’s proven popular in a crowded segment with its modern look, clean styling, efficiency and economy.
The Mazda CX-5 debuted as a 2013 model at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2012. For 2014, there are only minor tweaks to the car’s first year with increased horsepower in the top-two trims, a collision warning system option and advanced radio technology services.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
One week after test-driving a high-tech, high-priced, ill-conceived BMW crossover, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 arrived just in time. I test drove the Grand Touring model, the most detailed of the three available trims.
The CX-5 was a refreshing change because unlike the BMW, Mazda offers a lot of features, comfort and logically smart technology without crossing into the land of accoutrement overload and high-tech wizardry.
In addition to a health offering of standard features, the CX-5 Grand Touring edition features 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats and leather upholstery.
For 2014, the CX-5 Touring and Grand Touring models have power boosts with their 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines now producing 184 horsepower, 29 horsepower more than last year. My weekly driver was front-wheel drive, but there’s also an all-wheel drive option. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the front-wheel drive calculated at 25 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway) and 27 mpg (combined). The AWD option is EPA estimated at 24/30/26 mpg.
Comfortable, well-positioned, spacious front and rear seating.
Pull-down rear window screen should be the standard for other manufacturers. It’s sturdy, latches and unlatches with precision and remains out of the way against the window yet hide the cargo well.
Strong gas mileage averages for SUV segment.
Simple, intuitive dials, controls, buttons, etc.
With the rear seats folded, there’s 65 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than sufficient for lots of stuff.
Good overall driver visibility.
The Tom-Tom navigation system isn’t bad. But it’s far from the best in industry, with lack of screen clarity quite noticeable.
The sound system is only adequate.
Fiat and Mazda have officially inked the deal which will retool the MX-5 (aka the Miata) as Alfa Romeo’s next open-top sports car, expected to hit showrooms in 2015. The agreement was first mooted back in May 2012, and will see the as-yet-unnamed Alfa Romeo droptop eventually go on sale globally; meanwhile, Mazda will also offer its own version of the car, the next-gen MX-5.
Although the two cars “will be based on the architecture” of Mazda’s new Miata model, there will be some key differences in what ends up on sale. Beyond the differentiated styling – unconfirmed, though we’re hoping Alfa Romeo doesn’t stray too far from the delectable 2010 concept by Pininfarina, shown here, although we wouldn’t argue with a convertible version of last year’s Disco Volante concept either – each marque will slot in their choice of engine.
Both versions will be produced at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan, and feature rear-wheel drive and two seats. For the Japanese firm, it’s a chance to squeeze as much value as possible out of its new design and manufacturing investment, vital if the compact droptop is to be financially viable.
For Fiat, meanwhile, Alfa Romeo has been struggling for some time, and the deal means producing “a modern interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo roadster” needn’t be quite so impractical. Initial plans to reintroduce the brand to the US market later this year have been delayed, however, with the Alfa Romeo 4C now not expected to debut in North America until sometime in 2014.
By Tim Pollard (artist’s impressions by Christian Schulte)
The Fiat Group’s revelation in May 2012 that it would co-develop the next Alfa Romeo Spider alongside the Mazda MX-5 got everyone at CAR, and its digital audience, salivating. Today we can bring you the latest artist’s impressions showing how this Japanese-Italian fusion could look on the road.
This is perhaps one of the most exciting prospects for years: a project marrying Italian design flair and Alfa Romeo style with the Japanese reliability and back-to-basics MX-5 purity. It could be a marriage made in heaven – we’ll know for sure when we see this duo in 2015.
This is an artist’s impression, remember. None of us yet know exactly how the sports car twins will look, but the rules of jigsaw identification mean we can have a good stab at how they’ll turn out.
The MX-5 hasn’t deviated much over the years from the original 1989 recipe, and our sources at Mazda suggest the same evolutionary style will continue, pepped up with the latest ‘Kodo’ design language seen on the new 6 family car. That means a pointier front face and exaggerated Mazda grille, but the essential footprint of the 2015 MX-5 won’t change much.
This suggests the Alfa Spider won’t be wildly different. The hard points of the architecture will be shared, but each brand will be allowed the freedom to graft on their own grilles and corporate jewellery. Let’s hope they’re allowed more flexibility than the identikit Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.
While details remain scant on the Spider/MX-5 project, a few nuggets have been announced already in the formal statement.
‘The study calls for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive,’ the companies have confirmed. ‘The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.
‘The project assumption is that both vehicles will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015.’
Engines in the new Alfa Romeo Spider
Each brand will stick with their own engines, and CAR understands the Spider will use the 1750TBi four-cylinder, tuned to produce more than 200bhp and mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch TCT transmission.
CAR understands the Italian roadster will stick with a folding soft-top, rather than use the MX-5′s folding hard top. Fingers crossed the rear-wheel drive purity of the Mazda comes as standard on the Alfa Romeo Spider.
by Robert Thomas and Frank Ochal
Welcome to all of the many new members that have joined the club since the last magazine. Look for your name in “Meet the New Members”. Thanks to this issue’s contributors.
Thanks to this issue’s contributors.
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(top photo: Gull Wing Miata as photographed by Larry Velman)
The recently announced 2013 Mazda CX-5 has received critical acclaim from reviewers and drivers alike. The Mazda CX-5 has been completely revamped for the 2013 year, and recent advances in engine technology are utilized by the completely new platform of Mazda’s 2013 CX-5.
The small crossover has entered an extremely competitive market. Honda’s CRV and the Ford Escape have already received critical acclaim and the market is saturated with a host of options.
The 2013 Mazda CX-5, however, offers several new tricks that separate it away from its competition. The CX-5 features a Skyactic template, an elaborate set of features that boost fuel economy while simultaneously increasing driving and handling capabilities.
The new Skyactiv system is very effective. The car’s handling and driving abilities have been improved significantly over those of its competition. The four-wheel drive capabilities have improved drastically, and the car handles expertly in fast, tight corners.
The engine, however, does have its faults. The egine is significantly underpowered in comparison to its competition, and it lags 30 HP behind the C-RV’s 155 HP. The pure pleasure derived from driving a car with a more powerful engine and the safety benefits associated with a more powerful engine are counteracted by a terrific gas mileage. The gas mileage is reported to be the best in its class, with an expected 26/33 MPG city/highway.
The car also sports a host of interior features that add a sense of elegance and refinedness to the car. The detailed interior of the car seems well though out and is a major perk of the car. The back seats have three separate folding sections, which allows for more options for car cargo carrying capacity. The car has a built in GPS made by TomTom, a renowned manufacturer of GPS devices. The interior is lavish and well constructed.
The outside of the car has been equally well thought out. A new Kodo design has been implemented throughout the CX-5, and the attractive new design will soon spread to every Mazda model. The aggressive front styling gives the car a more compact and professional look. Mazda describes the design as looking like an animal up on its haunches, ready to pounce.
The handling of the car is terrific. Steering is responsive and smooth, and the general suspension gives the car a very nice feel. Despite its smaller engine, the Mazda CX-5 has terrific driving capabilities and only lags behind its competitors when it comes to raw horsepower.
The prices are not yet announced on the new 2013 Mazda CX-5. Estimates based off of announcements from Mazda have placed the car’s price at about $24,000. This will likely translate to a base price that is slightly less than many of the CX-5’s competitors. This price differentiation is also enunciated by the CX-5’s terrific fuel economy. The financial cost of maintaining the vehicle is significantly less than maintaining a similar vehicle.
Overall, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a very suitable car for those seeking a small crossover. The car offers many luxury options at a very reasonable price. Aggressive and attractive styling, coupled with excellent handling and terrific fuel economy, make the CX-5 a top choice for anyone interested in a small crossover. Those looking for a larger, more powerful engine or should check out the competition. The engine, however, is powerful enough to not detract from the superb driving experience and the Skyactic template is a major engineering accomplishment that vastly adds to the car’s allure. Those looking for an affordable, practical small crossover will be very pleased with the 2013 Mazda CX-5.