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2021 Mazda CX-5 GT SP Turbo review

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The Mazda CX-5 has been one of the best-selling SUVs for the best part of a decade, but the top-spec versions can be pretty expensive. We find out if they are worth the spend.

VALUE

Mazda has six CX-5 variants in its range, offering the choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and four engine options – three petrol and one diesel.

Prices start from $33,990 for the CX-5 Maxx with a manual transmission and rise to $55,990 for the range-topping, diesel-powered Akera. We are testing the CX-5 GT SP Turbo priced at $52,990 drive-away.

The SP scores a range of styling tweaks, including big 19-inch alloy wheels, black exterior highlights, and contrast red stitching on the seats and dash. A luxe interior, comprehensive safety features, and svelte looks help to justify the price.

The punchy 2.5-liter turbo engine is worth the extra $2500 over the smaller 2.0-liter. Mazda takes care of owners with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, and servicing is respectable at about $1800 over five years.

A big 10.25-inch infotainment screen is controlled by a rotary dial and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite navigation and digital radio are also standard.

Unlike many rivals, the CX-5 does with analog dials and needles in front of the driver and a small information screen on the dash. On the SP, though, a head-up display makes up for this by projecting your speed and the prevailing speed limit onto the windscreen. It will also warn if there’s a car in your blind spot. There are two USB charging points in the center storage bin, but the lack of wireless phone charging is disappointing at this price.

COMFORT

All that money buys you a very plush cabin. The GT SP’s interior is a step above mainstream rivals, layered in soft-touch leather and classy surface treatments. Well bolstered, heated faux leather and suede front seats are ideal for long-haul road trips.

Rear seat passengers have ample head and legroom, two air vents, and a center armrest USB plug-in. Boot space is decent at 442 liters, and the power tailgate is handy. The quiet cabin and softish suspension soak up most road imperfections, although settling over bigger bumps can take a fraction.

SAFETY

The CX-5 will brake automatically if it detects a potential collision with a car, but not pedestrians or cyclists. Lane-keep assist and a lane-departure warning will help you stay on the straight and narrow. Rear cross-traffic alert helps when reversing out of your drive and blind-spot alert keeps an eye on the lane next to you.

DRIVING

The GT SP’s 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 170kW and 420Nm, delivering ample grunt low down for easy acceleration and effortless overtaking and hill climbing. The six-speed transmission does an excellent job of keeping the engine humming along in its sweet spot, while light and direct steering make for an engaging drive.

The CX-5 sits high on the road and, as a result, leans a little through corners. It could also do with better tires. Claimed fuel use is optimistic at 8.2L/100km, and we saw closer to 10L/100km on our test, but it only requires regular unleaded petrol.

VERDICT 3.5/5

The CX-5 GT SP is stylish, well equipped, and comes with a beefy turbo engine, making for a compelling and well-rounded family SUV.

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Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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