2013 Mazda CX-5 AWD

2013 Mazda CX-5 AWD

The Good:
– Good interior space
– Superb fuel economy
– Excellent handling
The Bad:
– Pricey with options
– Noisy highway drive
– Needs more power

As our first taste of the new generation of Mazda models, the CX-5 is certainly a good example to start with. A brand new nameplate, the CX-5 is their first model to go with the new “Kodo” design theme and their first GCC-spec model to feature their new “SkyActiv” engine. Marketing buzzwords aside, the CX-5 had our interest piqued as soon as we got the call to try one out.

The Mazda CX-5 is said to be replacing the similarly-priced CX-7, the latter being a larger car that never sold well for some reason. The CX-5 is visibly smaller and a fairly good-looking car, although it will never turn any heads, even with the 19-inch alloys, the dual exhaust tips, and the built-in roof spoiler. It looks small, but is apparently slightly longer than the Honda CR-V, and much longer than the Kia Sportage.

Inside, the dashboard/console design is devoid of any personality, very simplistic and focussed on functionality. In a welcome change from the cheap cabin treatment in its competitors, the CX-5 instead has a soft-touch dashboard top, with cushy door inserts and armrests. Of course, the upper door-sills and everything below the belt is still hard plastics, but few are likely to notice.

Cabin space is pretty good, with moderately-bolstered front seats and just enough legroom for six-footers even in the back, and great all-round headroom. Boot floor-space is also sizeable, although the sloping rear window cuts down on some of the volume. There is a roll-up cargo cover, the rear bench has three headrests, and the 40:20:40-split rear seatback can almost fold flat. There are enough moulded-in cup-holders and useful storage cubbies, although the door pockets are small for some reason. But all in all, it does what crossovers are generally popular for.

The gadgetry in our well-kitted tester was commendable. There’s a decent touchscreen stereo with Bluetooth streaming and USB/AUX ports, dual-zone auto a/c, sunroof, bi-xenon HID headlights with turning feature, fog lamps, front and side-curtain airbags, cruise control, trip computer, smart keyless entry and start, rear camera with sensors, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The a/c was unstressed in our December test, but the lack of rear vents is a concern. There’s also a tyre-pressure monitor, a welcome addition, but it seemed overly sensitive sometimes. And for some reason, there is a sharp “beep” sound on every button-push, even when changing the volume using the back-lit steering-wheel buttons. We did like the little light that goes away only when the engine has warmed up, so you know how long to take it easy.

Mazda’s new direct-injection “SkyActiv” engine tech is actually a brilliant piece of engineering. They’ve apparently managed to create super-high compression in a mass-produced engine, something that no one else could do due to the need for better cooling solutions and high-octane fuel. Of course, this being the Middle East, we aren’t getting the 14:1 compression-ratio motor, but rather the slightly detuned one with a 13:1 ratio that runs on “Special” RON95 petrol. In our all-wheel-drive tester, it makes 151 hp at 6000 rpm and 198 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed automatic, these numbers aren’t particularly competitive, especially when you can buy a Honda with a bigger engine for the same price. We timed it in the 0-100 kph run at 12.2 seconds, slower than any other crossover we’ve tested except for the lowly Renault Duster.

And yet, it doesn’t feel particularly inadequate in certain situations. Once up to speed, it cruises just fine, revving below 2500 rpm doing 120 kph. Poke the accelerator to overtake, and somehow it manages to find the juice to speed up, albeit slowly, but not much slower than its rivals. In initial mixed driving, we were seeing a fuel consumption reading of 10.8 litres/100 km, a little better than the Honda, but we brought that average down to 9.5 litres/100 km with a Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway trip. Those figures are better than the small Chevrolet Cruze sedan even!

The Mazda CX-5 offers a good-enough ride, at least as smooth as its best rivals. What it lacks in is sound-deadening, as the 140 kph highway trip was a cacophony of external noises, like you’d find when driving a small hatchback. Otherwise, around town, the CX-5 is easy to drive, with its mild steering effort, good size, good visibility, optional rear camera, and a smooth gearbox, even if the latter is hesitant to downshift sometimes.

But then there’s the infamous Mazda handling, something that they never seem to advertise. The CX-5 is probably the best compact crossover we’ve ever driven when it came to cornering. The 225/55 rubbers offer good grip, the body roll is kept to a minimum, the tiptronic transmission shifts when you want it to, and the brakes are surprisingly good with great pedal feel and linear action. But damn, they’ve really outdone themselves with that electric power steering. It is mildly-weighted, with realistic feedback and great response. If it weren’t for that lack of power, the CX-5 could’ve passed off as a Toyota 86 competitor! Only without the drifting.

You can chase VW Golf GTIs all day around the twisties, but you’ll have to give up on chasing Nissan Xterras on the dunes. The CX-5 is more car than offroader, with a basic all-wheel-drive system that comes with no offroad aids whatsoever. The ground clearance is limited and the stability control cannot be turned off completely, so it’s best to not venture too far off the beaten trails.

So leave the CX-5 on the paved road, where it shines in terms of driving pleasure, as long as it involves a lot of corners. Even with its deficiencies, the CX-5 is a real winner from Mazda, and would’ve become their first proper cash-cow were it not for the fact that its rivals offer a whole lot more for about the same price.

Price Range:
Dh 99,750-115,750

Current Model Introduced in:

Body Styles:
5-door wagon

2.0L 151 hp Inline-4 / 198 Nm

6-speed automatic


Front: independent
Rear: independent

Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1555 kg

4540 mm

2700 mm

Top Speed:
185 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
12.2 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
9.5 litres/100km

What do you think?



  1. All is well. But the price!!!

    Excellent and honest review.Especially i like the part “You can chase VW Golf GTIs all day around the twisties, but you’ll have to give up on chasing Nissan Xterras on the dunes”.

  2. lol 151bhp, 12 secs to hit a 100, a 100,000 dhs for the base. What are these guys smoking?

  3. Pity that the AC is single zone…
    And that the dashboard looks old style.

  4. I am happy with my santa fe 2013 3.3 L AWD…

  5. Well balanced car!! In america they introduced 2.5L skyactiv in CX-5 from 2013. Hope so they will do the same in UAE soon.

  6. Mazda is making some great cars these days, I would say it is a heavy weight now. Our hands on approach assessed it to be a very solid car as compared to the trio of japanese giants.

  7. Look at that ugly dash.

  8. hi Mash, Why don’t you compare CX-5 with Scoda Yeti? will be interesting!

  9. 12 seconds to 100 is slower than cheap hatchbacks!! What and where did Mazda went wrong with this one…I am sure in other markets, they offer better engines

  10. at last mazda have come up with an affordable and practicable solution to family needs, and it looks good too!

  11. I scouted for cars. Almost bought a Santa Fe. But this (“CX-5 could’ve passed off as a Toyota 86 competitor”) cought my eye. I bought the basic CX-5 for 78,750, and it served me well.

  12. The 2014 Cx-5 comes with a 2.5L engine, giving 30 additional HPs

  13. The top trim is now SR 101k here in Riyadh. Very good deal in my opinion.

  14. How is the resale value here in Qatar? I heard that Mazda lacks aftersales care here in Qatar. is it true?

  15. Have the CX5 2015 top 2.5 AWD model. The car is responsive and is light in handling. Not great for off roading but is great for city and highway drive. Not much road noise till around 100, than it increases exponentially till 140 (up to where I pushed it). Overtaking even at 120 is effortless. My grudge is lack of GPS and the music system and the irritating fact that it does not recognise my folders in iPod. Starts with the first song on the whole list. Does not recognise the albums of the artists right. Sound great though I just cannot get it to restart from where my last song was. It takes forever to start.
    Like its interiors plush but no character. It’s black and looks drab if you have the black seats. I got the “beige” trim its more like off white and goes well with the black.

  16. Any comments and/or advice regarding mazda cx-5’s reliability? after sales and spare parts?

  17. Any body has experience with CX-5 2016 in saudi arabia…

    Put your valuable comments.

  18. Got CX 5 2016, Full Option, the drive the drive ……… Japanese BMW, not too quick but not slow as it competitors

  19. Hi Mash,

    Do you know if the new Mazda CX-9 2017 model is being released in Summer in Middle East?

  20. I am interested in buying the Mazda CX-5 in Saudi Arabia so any info, in addition to Faazi’s, would be appreciated

  21. Mazda will soon launch the 2nd generation CX5 (maybe May June in USA), which is a bit longer, sharper and lower than current version. Any Idea when its coming to GCC. Should I wait for the new one if its out in next 2 months or buy current on some discount.

    Also the new CX3 still not launched in Bahrain. Any Idea?

    Thanks a Ton.

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